What should I do at Confession?


I haven’t been to mass in a while to say the least and unless it was with my school (more/less all schools are Catholic in Ireland) I have never actually gone to confession.

I want to go to confession but I’m not sure how. I went recently to a Franciscan church nearby for mass and they had a confessional. Other than once I had never seen one before.
What happens at confession? I remember from when I made my confirmation when I was 12/13 the sentence “Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been (length of time) since my last confession” but that’s about it. Is there a special way (as in a different name) of saying the name of sins (for example lying,stealing, not going to mass, masturbation etc.)
Also, not necessarily confession related but does it matter which church you go to as I’m not sure which one is my parish church as there a lot of churches nearby.
Thanks in advance,


One must confess all mortal sins in number and kind (and if the kind changes -like it was the chalice from Church that was stolen).

One confesses by kind adultery, masturbation, missing Sunday and Holy Day Mass, buying and watching pornography, stealing your mothers wedding ring and selling it,fornication etc.

Examine for numbers but if one does not know that numbers -one may approximate according to what one does know…around 3x, 3-+5x a month for the last 5 years, maybe around 10x, several, many…etc

Venial sins need not be confessed. Though it is good to do so (at least some) and can be more general and without numbers.

One can confess to any Catholic Priest who can hear a confession – a near by Church…a monastery…


Read through this:


(and if one forgets a mortal sin one need to confess it in the next confession after one remembers it).

Know that Jesus is the *Good Shepherd *and he loves you! In him (and thus in confession!) is true life!


Thanks Bookcat,
Do you do the Act of Contrition and/or Penance in the Church?


And one need not use the technical name but one needs to get at what the mortal sin was - such as "missing Sunday and Holy Day Mass, having sexual relations with a married person (and one gives ones state of life in the beginning)…it seems easier though to say the masturbation, fornication, adultery…

jimmyakin.com/2007/03/specific_confes.html (jimmy akin of Catholic Answers fame)


Some priests will ask you to say the Act of Contrition while you are still in the confessional. Ours does and has it taped to the kneeler (in multiple languages) in case you don’t remember the words. :slight_smile: If not, you should say it as soon as you leave the Confessional.

If your penance is to say some prayers, I recommend doing it before you leave the Church but it’s not required. It’s just easier to do it while it’s fresh on your mind. Sometimes the penance is something other than prayers and has to be done later such as doing an act of charity or meditating on a psalm.


Thank you,
Would I be able to write the Act of Contrition down and bring the paper in my pocket, just in case?


Yes. Many parishes have the Act of Contrition printed in the confessional for the penitent’s use. In fact, some people also find it helpful to write their sins on a list to make it easier to remember. Remember that priests hear many confessions each week. Most priests will not remember what you confessed the next time they see you. Don’t worry what the priest might be thinking, because most people confess the same range of sins and chances are that you will not shock him by whatever you confess. Most priests will be glad that you came, and if it has been a long time, will be happy that you’re back and freed from your sins.


Make one before Confession…and normally make one in confession at the end.


Sure. Bring whatever you need (within reason).

Heck, I have an iPhone app (Laudate) that has the whole examination of conscience thing as well as the act and everything else. I use that as I tend to get flustered and forget stuff without some kind of crutch.

I’d suggest that you don’t get yourself too wound up about the whole thing. Make a good examination, state everything (number and kind, priest doesn’t need a dramatic retelling nor do the others waiting). It’s pretty simple, and you’ll feel better after. I always do.


Yes…or even make on in your own words.

It is important to be contrite (which is more an act of the will with grace than emotions -emotion may or may not happen -no worries) and amended -particularly regarding mortal sin (and about avoiding that which leads one to commit such).

Words can vary.

One can even simply say in confession “Jesus I love you and am sorry for my sins” or “Jesus have mercy” etc.


If all this seems too much, you can do what I did and just go to a solid priest and say, “Father it has been ___years since I’ve been to confession and I don’t know what to do.” The priest I went to didn’t miss a beat; he just began with reassurance and then helped me sort things out. God bless you!:thumbsup:


At the beginning, you must tell the Priest how long it has been since you had your last Confession. Then, at the end, you say the Act of Contrition before the Priest gives you your Penance, which could either be a few prayers or maybe even certain acts (being friendly to your enemy, feeding the homeless, and so on). When you confess your sins, however, you only have to do your mortal sins. The rules for a mortal sin are as follows:

  1. It must be a grave (or serious) matter.
  2. It must be commited with full knowledge.
  3. It must be commited with full consent.

As for me, I confess all of my venial sins and mortal sins to get the weight off of my chest; and to be “fully” clean. It’s your choice, though. You can confess your venial and mortal sins, or just confess your mortal sins. God bless, and peace be with you!


Yes, you may do that. I write down all of my sins on a piece of paper and bring it to Confession all the time, so I don’t see why you couldn’t write down the Act of Contrition too.


Youtube.com has some helpful videos on how to go to confession. Check it out.


I will probably get raked over the coals for this, but don’t forget that your iPhone (or any smartphone) has a listening microphone. With the recent NSA surveillance story and the Utah Data Center, I personally would not take my smartphone into the confessional.

Call me paranoid, but when they say, “we’ll watch you through the dishwasher if we have to” I believe them.


Wow! I never thought about that, but in this day and age, you are probably right.


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