Three acts are required from the penitent for forgiveness through the sacrament. These are contrition, confession, and satisfaction.
Contrition is sincere sorrow for having offended God, the most important act of the penitent. There can be no forgiveness of sin if we do not have sorrow and a firm resolve to not repeat our sin. Confession requires confronting our sins in a profound way before God by acknowledging them aloud to a priest.
Satisfaction is the “penance” the priest imposes on the penitent to make amends for sin, an important part of our healing.
Confession is not difficult, but it does require preparation.We should begin with prayer, placing ourselves in the presence of God, our loving Father. We seek healing and forgiveness through repentance and a resolve to sin no more. Then we review our lives since our last confession, searching out thoughts, words, and actions that did not conform to God’s love, to His law, or to the laws of the Church. This review is called an “examination of conscience.”
To make an examination of conscience, we should:
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and 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 confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen