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SpiritualDirection.com / Catholic Spiritual Direction

Father Z’s 20 Tips for Making a Good Confession

April 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Penance/Confession, Sacraments

Tips for Making a GoodYou and I are going to die someday. We don’t know when.

When we die we will be judged.

Scripture teaches, and Christ’s own words and actions make clear, that there are some sins bad enough to kill the life of grace in the soul and sever you from friendship with God.

Die in that state and you will be eternally separated from God.

If you think about that – eternal separation from God – which doesn’t immediately sound that bad, you will run or crawl to the confessional, get yourself to the priest to confess every mortal sin in kind and number you can think of…. because… you one day will die.

Jesus Christ Himself gave His own power to forgive sins to bishops and priests as the ordinary means for forgiveness of post-baptismal mortal sins. Christ’s power is exercised in the Sacrament of Penance.

You may have heard some goofy ideas over the years, or when you were growing up, about it being nearly impossible to commit a mortal sin, or that all that stuff the Church taught is too strict or too focused on sex or too mired in the mores of ages past.

Do you want to bet your eternal soul on those goofy ideas which, in your heart of hearts you know full well are dead wrong? When they are going all squishy and wobbly and easy on what you are doing… doesn’t that actually ring alarm bells somewhere in your conscience?

That alarm bell you hear is your conscience and God’s grace trying to pull your sorry backside out of the serious spiritual danger your soul might be in. And if your soul winds up in Hell, friend, your body will one day follow. And the results of that will never… ever… end.

Never ending separation from God in hopeless, loveless agony … or… the sight of God face to face, the fulfillment of every good and the perfection of every joy and virtue in communion with the angels and saints and the infinite Triune God.

Heaven or the PIT.

Stick to the Church, friends.

Review the Catechism of the Catholic Church or any old approved Catechism or pious book of prayers with examinations of conscience. Forget what the “Everyone’s just fine as they are and Jesus is a fluffy huggy friend” crowd, the “There can’t be anyone in hell” gang. Wanna bet your soul on that?

Never mind about the pious language in some of those older book, look at the substance. The things the old books and approved Catechisms say are sins really are sins and they can put you in Hell forever if you don’t confess them, receive absolution, do penance and amend your life.

Go to confession. Hold nothing back.

Go to confession. Confess it all, in kind and number.

Go to confession. Don’t be afraid.

Fr. Z’s 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession o{]:¬)

We should…

1) …examine our consciences regularly and thoroughly;

2) …wait our turn in line patiently;

3) …come at the time confessions are scheduled, not a few minutes before they are to end;

4) …speak distinctly but never so loudly that we might be overheard;

5) …state our sins clearly and briefly without rambling;

6) …confess all mortal sins in number and kind;

7) …listen carefully to the advice the priest gives;

8) …confess our own sins and not someone else’s;

9) …carefully listen to and remember the penance and be sure to understand it;

10) …use a regular formula for confession so that it is familiar and comfortable;

11) …never be afraid to say something “embarrassing”… just say it;

12) …never worry that the priest thinks we are jerks…. he is usually impressed by our courage;

13) …never fear that the priest will not keep our confession secret… he is bound by the Seal;

14) …never confess “tendencies” or “struggles”… just sins;

15) …never leave the confessional before the priest has finished giving absolution;

16) …memorize an Act of Contrition;

17) …answer the priest’s questions briefly if he asks for a clarification;

18) …ask questions if we can’t understand what he means when he tells us something;

19) …keep in mind that sometimes priests can have bad days just like we do;

20) …remember that priests must go to confession too … they know what we are going through.

Fr. Z Blogs here!

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Nalulemarion

    thank you Fr for the tips of good confession

  • FitzO

    Go to confession. Don’t be afraid.13) …never fear that the priest will not keep our confession secret… he is bound by the Seal;The above are edifying statements and divine. My pastor mentioned my sins in the homily – I am mortified – What do I do?    

    • Dear Friend – first, be sure that he really did mention your sins. Many people are confused in that they think that they are the only ones who could have confessed a particular sin to the priest on a given day. In fact, the list of sins gets pretty simple for a priest when he hears them every week. It would be very easy to assume that he is speaking about you when in fact he was speaking in a general way that might reflect the sins of many others. That said, if what was revealed was very specific and, without a doubt, unique to you, then you need to 1) speak with the priest about it and then 2) speak with the Bishop about it.

  • FitzO

    Please, what has happened to my comment?

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