As a child in the Byzantine Catholic church, I was taught to begin my confession “I confess to Almighty God, one in the Holy Trinity, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, to all the saints, and to you Father…”
As a child in a Latin-rite school, I was taught to begin “Bless me Father, for I have sinned…”
My husband, in a different part of the country, was taught “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…”
What were you taught and how do you begin your confession?
At the time I joined the Church, nobody taught me what I was supposed to say. I thought the “Bless me Fr for I have sinned” was only in the movies, so I just jumped right in.
To this day I start with how long it’s been since my last confession, then mention the sins.
The priest I went to always ended by saying to make (or say) an act of contrition, but he would immediately start praying out loud, so I would just say “I’m sorry” to God silently.
Some years later I went to confession to a new priest. When he said to say an act of contrition, he kept silent & waited for me to say it. I was so surprised that I just blurted out, “But Fr, I’m a convert - no one has ever told me to say it out loud.”
That cracked him up & I started laughing, too. People waiting must have wondered what kind of jokes we were telling!
My husband had the opposite experience. As a cradle Catholic, he had never experienced the saying the absolution while he prayed the Act of Contrition. One time, he came home from confession and said “It was weird. The priest asked me to pray the Act of Contrition, but then he just started talking. I didn’t know what to do.”
In Lithuania I was taught to start by kneeling and making a sign of the cross while the priest gives the blessing. Then the greeting comes - “Garbė Jėzui Kristui.” - “Per amžius. Amen.” (literally “Glory to Jesus Christ.” - “Through ages. Amen.”). Then I say “Išpažinties buvau prieš X, atgailą įvykdžiau, Švenčiausiąjį Sakramentą priėmiau. Dievui nusidėjau šiomis nuodėmėmis: …” (approximately “My [last] confession was X ago, I did my penance, I have received the Blessed Sacrament, I have sinned against God by those sins: …”). After the list of sins, I say “Daugiau nuodėmių neatsimenu, gailiuosi, žadu pasitaisyti, prašau išrišimo.” (approximately “I remember no more sins, I am sorry, I promise to improve, I ask for absolution.”). Then the priest talks for a while, giving the penance and ending with “Gailėkis, duosiu išrišimą.” (“Be contrite, I will give the absolution.”). Then, while the priest gives the absolution, I beat my chest while repeating “Dieve, pasigailėk manęs, nusidėjėlio.” (“God, have mercy on me, sinner.”). After the absolution the priest says “Viešpats tau atleido. Eiki ramybėje.” (“God has forgiven you. Go in peace.”) and knocks on the confessional (to indicate that the confession is over). Then I stand up, bow to the priest and go away.
When I first started going to private confessions, I always sign myself with the sign of the cross and say 'bless me Father for i have sinned, it has been x time since my last confession' (as I've heard and seen that in movies, plus my iConfess app has it there for me too)
I make the sign of the cross (a good evening greeting before/after is recommended), then say “Bless me Father I have sinned.” Then state how many days since last confession/or the exact date thereof. Count as many sins as I can.
I am always confused about practices. I never know when to do the sign of the Cross. At the end, the priest does the sign of the Cross and I am not sure if I am supposed to do it also. Do I sign myself additionally when I enter, before the opening formula, as one member here has mentioned?
[quote="Bonnie, post:15, topic:330100"]
You're not alone. I wonder if there is a general unease about "doing it right" that keeps people from going to confession.
I wondered that as well...
Funny thing was, after 'X' amount of time not going to confession I started off by saying, "Forgive me Father..." instead of the "Bless me Father..." I'm pretty sure either is accepted, as my confessor didn't get after me over it. The 'intention' is there as well as contrition,
What kept me away from confession wasn't so much as 'doing it right' was probably more along the lines of feelings of guilt and shame. The mere fact of spilling ones heart and soul out to another (especially to God) can be unnerving to some.
The priest I confess to knows I am a convert. Make sure they know that. When I started going to confession regularly, I also told him that, while I had been a Catholic for over 8 years, I could count the number of confessions I had been to on one hand.
Often he will actually say, “Let’s begin” Then he will say, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and we both make the sign of the cross.
Then I used to say, “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…etc.” until this past year when a guide was actually printed in the church bulletin that said to begin with, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.” I don’t think one is more “right” than the other, but I could be wrong. Now I say, “Bless me…”
Then I state my sins and the number of times. I don’t usually say “I sinned against the first commandment ten times.” My mind doesn’t work that way. Usually it’s more along the lines of, “I still have problems with my mouth.”
After I am done and I have received counsel, I am told to make an act of contrition. The first time he told me that, I reached for my prayer card with the Act of Contrition on it and he told me I could just pray it from my heart. My prayer is never very long, and very simple.
When I am done, Father prays the prayer of Absolution. When he says, “I absolve your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” he makes the sign of the cross over me and I cross myself. I think the Catechism says we are to do this, but I do it anyway.
Then I thank him and I leave.
I don’t know if that is what a cradle catholic would have been trained to do, but since I always confess to the same priest, it’s what we do. If I was doing anythinig wrong, or Father would prefer I did something differently, I know he would tell me.
I hope that helps with the “nuts and bolts” of confession. And if you’re ever in doubt, just ask the priest. He’ll be happy to guide you through the “how to” part.
I love this blog post and am enjoying reading the different variations. I am so interested in this.
I had always heard in movies, etc. "Forgive me father" never "bless me." In RCIA they taught us "bless me" but I liked "forgive me" better so I use that.
I kneel and wait for the priest to make the sign of the cross, then "Forgive me father, for I have sinned, It's been (amount of time) since my last Confession, and these are my sins........for these and all of my sins, I am truly sorry."
Then priest gives advice and a penance, and invites me to say the Act of Contrition. Sometimes the priest will say absolution while I pray the Act of Contrition, in which case I say it softly, other times he waits until I'm done. Then I say "Thank you" and that's it!