Preparation For Confession
God does not desire the death of a sinner, but rather that he turn away from his sins and live. In the holy Sacrament of Penance we have the means whereby we may obtain forgiveness of our sins, and be restored to the favor of God, our heavenly Father.
In order that you may make a good confession, it is necessary for you to prepare yourself carefully. Ask God to give you grace to make a thorough examination of your conscience, courage to make a sincere and complete confession, and strength to amend your way of life in the days to come.
Begin your examination with the time of your last confession; try to recall whether you omitted anything through carelessness or lapse of memory, or from fear of embarassment. Examine yourself with the assistance of the form of Self-examination according to the Ten Commandments of God which follows, and with reference to the informative spiritual helps in this book.
It is most necessary that you be truly sorry for the sins which you have committed, and that you firmly purpose amendment of your manner of living. Accordingly, when you have finished your examination of conscience, say the Prayer of Repentence (page 17) and Psalm 50 (page 27).
Have I believed in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Have I failed to trust in God and His mercy? Have I complained against God in adversity? Have I been thankful for God's blessings? Have I doubted the Christian faith and the teachings of the Church? Have I tried to serve God and keep His Commandments? Have I given way to superstition? Have I frequented the religious meetings of heretics and schismatics? Have I neglected my duties to God through fear of ridicule or persecution? Have I failed .to pray to God faithfully? Have I put myself before God?
Have I made an idol of any person or thing? Have I given to anyone or anything the worship that is due to God alone? Have I set before myself the holy life of Jesus and tried to imitate Him? Have I read the Holy Scriptures regularly? Have I been irreverent during Church Services, let my attention wander, or been insincere? Have I neglected to receive Holy Communion regularly or without due preparation?
Have I profaned the holy name of God in any way? Have I cursed anyone or anything, or sworn a false oath? Have I failed to give proper reverence to holy persons and things? Have I had due respect for the clergy of the Church or hindered them in performing God's work? Have I broken any solemn vow or promise? Have I entered into any unlawful contract or made an unlawful promise?
Have I stayed away from Church on Sundays or prevented others from going? Have I done unnecessary work on Sundays? Have I spent the day in unwholesome fashion or profaned it by improper conduct? If I could not go to Church because of illness or other grave cause, have I prayed at home? Have I caused anyone else to profane the Lord's Day? Have I kept the Fasts and Festivals prescribed by the Church?
Have I respected my parents and been obedient to them? Have I been guilty of deception, or caused them pain by my words or actions? Have I neglected them or failed to help them? Have I done my duty towards my family? Have I been wanting in love or kindness towards my husband (or wife), or harmed him (or, her) in any way? Have I set my children a good example and tried to bring them up properly? Have I corrected their faults with patience and not with anger? Have I over-indulged or spoiled them? Have I neglected my god-children and failed in my obligations towards them? Have I worked for my employers honestly and diligently? Have I treated fairly all those who have worked for me? Have I honored God as my Heavenly Father by treating others as my brothers., and have I honored the Church as my spiritual Mother by honoring and practicing my religion in accordance with her teachings?
Have I caused the injury or death of any one, or wished that I were dead? Have I done anything to shorten my own life or that of someone else by injuring health, or through evil and intemperate living? Have I given way to anger, or harmed others with words or actions? Have I defamed others who needed help, or failed to stand up for those unjustly treated? Have I been cruel to anyone? Have I mistreated animals or destroyed any life unnecessarily? Have I failed to forgive anyone or harbored evil thoughts against them?
Have I given way to impure thoughts, words, or deeds? Have I committed any unworthy actions alone or with others? Have I degraded myself in any way, or forgotten human dignity? Have I read immoral books or magazines, or delighted in obscenity of any kind? Have I associated with bad companions or frequented unsavory places? Have I eaten or drunk or smoked too much? Have I been lazy, idle, or wasted my time? Have I led others to commit sinful acts? Have I been unfaithful to any trust confided in me?
Have I stolen anything or wished to do so? Have I kept anything that did not belong to me? Have I tried honestly to find owners of lost articles I have found? Have I cheated anyone? Have I paid my debts? Have I lived within, my income, and not wastefully and extravagantly? Have I given to charitable causes in proportion to my means? Have I been honest and upright?
Have I told lies, or added to or subtracted from the truth? Have I made careless statements or spoken evil of anyone? Have I told any secrets entrusted to me, or betrayed anyone? Have I gossiped about anyone or harmed their reputation? Have I concealed the truth, assisted in carrying out a lie, or pretended to commit a sin of which I was not guilty? Have I tried to see the good in others rather than their shortcomings?
Have I envied anything good that has come to others? Have I been jealous of another's good fortune? Have I wished for anything that was another's? Have I damaged or destroyed the property of others? Have I wished for things God has not given me, or been discontented with my lot? Have I been stingy? Have I held back anything due another? Have I hoped for the downfall of anyone go that I might gain by it? Have I failed to be gracious and generous to anyone? Have I expected God to give me that which I would refuse one of my fellow men?
THE ORDER OF CONFESSION
(A short form)
While the Penitent is waiting for the Priest to hear his confessions he says quietly the "Trisagion Prayers" and Psalm 50, if he has time, and then aloud:
I have sinned, O Lord: forgive me. O God, be gracious unto me a sinner.
When the Penitent's turn comes, he goes forward and kneels in the proper place, and says aloud:
O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I confess to you all the hidden and open sins of my heart and mind, which I have committed to this present day; wherefore I beg of you, the righteous and compassionate Judge, remission of sins and grace to sin no more.
Then the Priest says in a kindly voice:
My brother, inasmuch as you have come to God, and to me, be not ashamed; for you speak not to me, but to God, before whom you stand.
The Priest questions the Penitent concerning his sins, and the questioning finished, he says these words:
My spiritual child, who has confessed to my humble self, I, humble and a sinner, have no power on earth to forgive sins, but God alone; yet through that divinely spoken word which came to the Apostles after the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, saying: Whoever sins they remit, they are remitted, and whoever. sins we retain, they are retained, we too are emboldened to say: Whatever you have said to my most humble self, and whatever you have not succeeded in saying, either through ignorance, or through forgetfulness, Whatever it may be: God forgive you in this present world, and in that which is to come.
And the Priest adds this Prayer, making the sign of the Cross over the Penitent:
God it was who forgave David through Nathan the Prophet, when he confessed his sins, and Peter weeping bitterly for his denial, and the sinful woman in tears at his feet, and the Publican, and the Prodigal Son: May that same God forgive you all things, through me a sinner, both in this present world, and in that which is to come, and set you uncondemned before his dread Judgment Seat. And the Priest adds: And now, having no further care for the sins which you least declared, depart in peace.
Then the Priest allows the Penitent to depart with this blessing:
May Christ our true God, through the prayers of his most holy Mother and of all the Saints, have mercy upon us and save us, for inasmuch as he is good and loves mankind. Amen.
The Penitent returns to his seat and gives thanks to God for His goodness, saying one or more of the Prayers After Confession which follow:
PRAYERS AFTER CONFESSION
O almighty and merciful God, I truly thank you for the forgiveness of my sins ; bless me, O Lord, and help me always, that I may ever do that which is pleasing to you, and sin no more. Amen.
O Lord God of my salvation, the Savior and Benefactor of my soul, I am truly sorry for my every transgression and I firmly resolve never again to offend you by my sins, and sincerely promise to amend my way of life.
Implant in me the fear of your blessed commandments, that I may trample down all carnal appetite and may lead a godly life, both thinking and doing always such things as are pleasing to you. I pray to you, grant to me the Grace of your Holy Spirit, that so strengthened, I may shun all evil deeds and works, and words and thoughts, and may avoid all snares of Evil. Shine in my heart with the true Sun of your Righteousness enlighten my mind and guard all my senses, that walking uprightly in the way of your statutes, I may attain life eternal. Amen.
O Sovereign Master, who loves mankind, lead me in your way, that I may walk in your truth. Make glad my heart, that I may fear your Holy Name. O Lord, mighty in mercy, gracious in strength, aid and comfort and save me, as I put my trust in your holy Name. Rebuke, me not, O Lord, in your displeasure, neither punish me in your wrath, but show to me your great mercy and compassion, O Physician and Healer of my soul. O Merciful Savior, blot out all my transgressions, for I am sorry for having offended you. Grant me your Grace that I may avoid my previous evil ways. Strengthen me, O Mighty One, to withstand those temptations before which I am weak, that I may avoid all future sin Keep me under your protection and in the shadow of your wings, that I may serve you, praise you, and glorify you all the days of my life. Amen.
PRAYERS OF PREPARATION BEFORE HOLY COMMUNION
1. A Prayer of St. Basil the Great
O Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, our God. Fountain of life and immortality, Creator of all things visible and invisible; Consubstantial and Co-eternal Son of the eternal Father, who in your exceeding great love did become incarnate in the latter days, and was crucified for us ungrateful and wicked children, and by your own Blood did renew our nature corrupted by sin: Do you, O Immortal King, receive me, a repentant sinner; incline your ear to me and hear my prayer. I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am not worthy to lift up my eyes to the majesty of your glory, for I have affronted your goodness, and broken your commandments, and disobeyed your laws. But you, O Lord most loving, long-suffering and merciful, have not given me over to perish in my sin, but do ever await my return. For, O you who loves mankind, you have said, by thy Prophet, that you have no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live. You do not desire, O Master, to destroy the works of your hands or that they should perish, but will that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth. Wherefore I, although unworthy both of heaven and of earth and of this temporary life, even I, a wretched sinner who had given [TBP.]