Source Fr. Livio’s Blog

Dear friend, it is now time to prepare for Confession in view of Christmas, which you can do in your Parish or in some sanctuary you know. A life-changing Confession will give you unforgettable joy. Here is a seven-step itinerary for you that will lead you to an embrace with the heavenly Father.

Confession is a journey to be followed in seven successive steps. The first two, which must be considered remote preparation, are prayer and examination of conscience. The other five, which constitute the heart of the sacrament, are the pain of having offended God, the resolution not to sin again, the accusation of one’s sins, the absolution of the priest and finally penance. It is an internal journey that may require a considerable amount of time to mature.

The protagonist is the heart that opens to God and his grace, in order to obtain forgiveness and peace. It is important to arrive before the confessor already prepared, after having examined one’s conscience and having expressed one’s pain and the intention to correct oneself to the Lord. Faith will be the lamp that will allow you to happily reach the end of the road without stumbling.

1. Prayer

Before starting your examination of conscience, gather yourself in prayer and ask God for the necessary light. In fact, it is grace that helps us to see sins, even the most hidden ones, and to avoid forms of self-deception and self-justification. In fact, man, who has an eye ready to see the sins of others, is rather reluctant to recognize his own. In particular, in prayer before the Crucifix we contemplate the divine mercy that bends over our illness to heal it. In prayer we not only see the sins, but also the root that generates them. It is the root of disbelief and disaffection. If it is not identified and eradicated, confession does not produce lasting effects. Prayer not only opens the path to confession, but is its logical conclusion. At the beginning it is a prayer of invocation, at the end of thanksgiving. Thanks to prayer, the entire penitential journey is completed in the presence of merciful Love.

2. The examination of conscience.

The examination of conscience “is a diligent search for the sins that have been committed, after the last well-made confession” (Catechism of St. Pius It will be easier for you if every evening, before going to bed, you reflect on your day in the light of God, asking for forgiveness and formulating a resolution for the next day. In the examination of conscience you must “diligently recall to memory, before God, all the sins committed, never confessed, in thoughts, words, actions and omissions, against the commandments of God and the Church and the obligations of one’s state” ( Catechism of St. Pius

In particular, it is necessary to focus on all mortal sins, because they must be confessed, specifying their number as much as possible. A sensitive conscience also focuses on venial sins, committing itself to eliminating them, even if it is not necessary to confess them all. Review, one by one, the ten commandments and the seven deadly sins. It will help you bring to the surface the evil that has settled in the depths of your soul.

3. The pain of having offended God.  

If you become aware of your sins before the Crucifix, it will not be difficult for you to feel deep pain for having offended him and you will heartily ask him for forgiveness, sincerely detesting the evil done. Perfect sorrow, or contrition, which arises from the consideration of the infinite goodness of God in comparison with our lack of love, has the wonderful effect of obtaining divine forgiveness and sanctifying grace, as long as it includes the will to confess. Ask for it every day in prayer, so you will keep your soul always ready for the moment of judgement. Imperfect pain or attrition arises from the fear of punishment and from the very ugliness of sin. It is sufficient to receive absolution from the priest, but only charity, that is, the love of God above all things, gives the strength not to fall back into the usual sins. Without sincere sorrow for sins, whether perfect or imperfect, “confession is not valid, because sorrow is the most important thing of all” (Catechism of St. Pius

4. The resolution to sin no more.

The pain of sins is authentic if it is followed by the firm decision to change one’s life. “The resolution consists in a resolute will never to commit the sin again and to use all the necessary means to escape from it” (Catechism of St. Pius It concerns all mortal sins committed or that could be committed. It also includes the desire to escape dangerous opportunities and to destroy bad habits that have been contracted by falling into the same sins. It is the firmness of purpose that makes progress on the spiritual path. If the confession ends with a concrete purpose, it becomes an effective tool on the path to holiness.

5. The confession of sins.

After having prepared with the examination of conscience, pain and resolution, the moment comes for the accusation of sins before the confessor, in order to obtain absolution. “ We are obliged to confess all mortal sins; However, it is good to confess even the venial” (Catechism of St. Pius The accusation must be humble, without haughtiness and without excuses; it must be complete, that is, include all the mortal sins committed after the last well-made confession and of which one is aware and indicate the circumstances that aggravate and multiply them; it must be sincere, that is, declare the sins as they are, without excusing them, diminishing them or increasing them; he must be prudent, using terms marked by modesty and confidentiality, avoiding revealing the sins of others; it must be short, avoiding telling the confessor useless things.

If one is not certain that he has committed a sin, he is not obliged to confess it. If one is in doubt as to whether he confessed it or not, he is equally under no obligation to confess it. Whoever has kept silent about a mortal sin due to forgetfulness, the confession is valid, but he must declare it at the next confession. “He who, out of shame or for some other reason, guiltily keeps silent about some mortal sin in confession, profanes the sacrament and therefore makes us guilty of a very grave sacrilege” (Catechism of St. Pius He must therefore expose the unspoken sin to the confessor and repeat the confession from the last one well done. Once the accusation of sins has been made, one must listen with respect to what the confessor says and, if necessary, ask for some advice to progress on one’s spiritual journey.

6. The absolution of the Priest.

When the provisions required by the dignity of the sacrament are present, the confessor imparts absolution in the name of Jesus. However, when they are missing, he can defer or deny it. But this should not lead to discouragement or resentment. Rather he must humbly consider his spiritual situation and put himself in a position to receive it as soon as possible.

7. penance.

“ Sacramental penance is one of the acts of the penitent, with which he gives some compensation to the justice of God for the sins committed, carrying out those works that the confessor imposes on him…. Penance is given because ordinarily, after the sacramental absolution which forgives guilt and eternal punishment, there remains a temporal punishment to be served in this world or in purgatory…The works of penance can be reduced to three types: prayer, to fasting, to almsgiving” (Catechism of St. Pius After confession, the penitent “if he has unjustly damaged his neighbor’s property or honor, or if he has given him scandal, must as soon as possible return his property, repair his honor and remedy the scandal” (Catechism of St. Pius

At the end of these seven steps, we have obtained God’s forgiveness and his renewed friendship, sanctifying grace, peace of conscience, the hope of eternal life and a special grace in spiritual warfare. From the dead we were we came back to life. God asks us only a little goodwill to give us his inexhaustible riches.

Your Father Livio