Guide to the Sacrament of Reconciliation

The priest will help guide you through these steps. If the option exists, you may choose to confess your sins anonymously (behind a screen) or face to face with the priest. You will need to decide this before receiving the Sacrament.

Greeting and Welcome

Priest: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. 
Penitent: Amen.
Penitent: It has been (how long) since I last celebrated the sacrament.

The priest may offer a greeting in the name of Jesus (e.g., “Peace be with you”) or offer an invitation to trust in the mercy of God, in these or similar words:
May God, who has enlightened every heart,
help you to know your sins
and trust in his mercy.
The priest and you together will begin with the Sign of the Cross and a greeting.

Reading from Scripture

The priest may offer to share a reading from scripture (this will be omitted if the celebration takes place as part of a communal service or if there is a great number of people waiting to celebrate the sacrament). 

Confession of Sins

State the sins you would like to confess.  End with “for these and all my sins I am truly sorry.”  The priest may offer words of encouragement or advice.

Penance for Sin

The priest will offer a penance, either in the form of some prayer or some action to perform, to make satisfaction for sin and to amend your life.

Prayer of the Penitent (Act of Contrition)

The priest will invite you to express sorrow for sin and ask for God’s forgiveness.  You may use this one or use another similar prayer.

My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.

Prayer of Absolution

The priest, with hands extended over your head, prays:
God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and resurrection of his Son,
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of  sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Penitent: Amen.

Proclamation of Praise of God and Dismissal

The celebration may conclude with an acclamation:
Priest:         Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.
Penitent:     His mercy endures for ever.
Priest:          The Lord has freed you from your sins.  Go in peace.
Penitent:      Thanks be to God.

Other Helpful Resources:

Examination of Conscience
USCCB on the Sacrament of Reconciliation