Below is an outline for making a good confession, with the penitant’s (the person confessing) words in boldface print.
A person should never receive Holy Communion in a state of serious sin, but must first be reconciled with God through the Sacrament of Penance, also called Reconciliation or Confession. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says,
“To respond to this invitation, we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion” (#1385).
– In church, pray Psalm 51 (50). This step is optional but helpful.
– Make an examination of conscience. (Call to mind the sins you have committed.)
– Express to God your sorrow for these sins in your own words.
– Kneel (or sit) in the confessional and make the Sign of the Cross.
– Say, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been (length of time) since my last confession. These are my sins.”
– Name your sins in kind and number, beginning with the most difficult one to confess.
– The priest may offer some advice, and then he will give you a penance.
– At the invitation of the priest, say either of these Acts of Contrition:
“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You.
I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell,
but most of all because they offend You, my God, Who are all-good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.
“Oh my God, 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.”
– The priest will then give the Absolution:
“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 (raising his right hand and making the sign of the Cross) I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
– Respond, “Amen.”
– The priest may then say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.”
– Respond, “His mercy endures forever.”
– After leaving the confessional, immediately offer in church the penance given to you by the priest (usually prayers or else a particular good work).
– Pray Psalm 32 (31). This step is optional but helpful.
– Pray for the priest’s welfare here and his salvation hereafter.
– Praise the good Lord for His kindness and mercy, and for a new beginning!