Reconciliation, or penance, is one of Catholicism’s seven sacraments, and followers are expected to go to confession at least once a year. Rest assured that the priest, bound by the seal of confession, will not divulge your sins.
Step 1: Examine actions since last confession Examine your actions since your last confession. Reflect on those that have hurt other people or distanced you from God. Perhaps you’ve acted selfishly with a friend, or treated a family member unkindly. It goes without saying that you should already be reflecting on the heavy hitters, like adultery or theft.
Step 2: Find out confession schedule Call your local church or consult the parish bulletin to find out when confessions are scheduled. If necessary, you can also arrange a different time with a priest.
Step 3: Enter the confessional Enter the confessional or the designated meeting place.
TIP: You do not have to be in a classic confessional to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.
Step 4: Greet the priest Greet the priest.
Step 5: Tell priest last confession date Say, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It's been X days, months, or years since my last confession."
Step 6: Tell priest of hurtful actions Tell the priest about the hurtful actions you thought about earlier.
TIP: Rather than giving him a laundry list of sins, take the opportunity to have an open dialogue with your confessor.
Step 7: Receive penance from priest Receive your penance from the priest, which is usually some form of prayer or reconciliation with another person.
Step 8: Say the Act of Contrition Say the Act of Contrition.
Step 9: Receive priest's absolution Receive the priest's absolution, which frees you of your sins.
Step 10: Do your penance Do your penance and resolve, as best you can, to avoid the same sins in the future.
Step 11: Celebrate your forgiveness Celebrate your forgiveness—just try not to commit any sins while doing so.
FACT: A priest cannot break the confessional seal under penalty of automatic excommunication—even to report a crime.