Take some time in prayer to examine your conscience before making your confession. Then when you are ready, take a place in line and enter when it is your turn. When you enter for reconciliation, you have two choices. You may kneel down and make your confession anonymously or you may go to the chair by the priest to confess your sins face to face. It is your option, but many people find they have a richer experience of the Lord’s mercy by confessing their sins face to face.
The priest will greet you. Then you begin.
Penitent: In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Priest: May the Lord who has enlightened every heart, help you to know your sins and trust in his mercy.
(The priest may also begin with a different prayer)
You may begin your confession in these or similar words, but you should always say how long it has been since your last confession.
Penitent: Forgive me (Bless Me) father for I have sinned. It has been (how long) since my last confession.
Then it would be a good idea to indicate your state in life, e.g. I am a married father of 3 children or I am single or I am a nun, etc.
Now mention all your serious sins and sinful patterns of life which you have noticed. When you have finished your confession, the priest may give you some words of counsel. Then the priest will suggest to you a penance or act of satisfaction. This will be a prayer or some action which will serve as a sign and pledge that you will strive to change your life and follow the Lord more faithfully as his disciple.
When you have accepted the penance the priest will ask you to express your sorrow. This is called the prayer of the penitent or act of contrition. It may be in your own words, a form you learned as a child, or the following:
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.
O my God, I am sorry for my sins because I have offended you. I know I should love you above all things. Help me to do penance, to do better, and to avoid anything that might lead me to sin. Amen.
an equally appropriate personal act of contrition which expresses the same or similar sentiments.
Priest: 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.
Priest: Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.
Penitent: His mercy endures forever.
Priest: The Lord has freed you from your sins. Go in peace.