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Thames Isis Coordinating Pastor:
Rev Jamie McGrath
01235 520375

 

Coordinating Pastor's Office
1 Radley Road

Abingdon

OX14 3PL

Tel: 01235 520375

 

 

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How to go to Confession

A Good Confession

Why confess to a priest?
·         Our Lord gave the power to forgive sins to His priests (Jn 20:22-23);
·         in order to re-submit to the authority of God and the Church which we have betrayed by our sins, and to be re-admitted to that community (that oneness of Faith symbolized by the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of Unity) from which we have cut ourselves off by mortal sin;
·         because Confession is not purely about the individual and God but about our relationship with others also, and about re-establishing the harmony of a created order shattered by sin;
·         because the priest is the representive of the Christian community, the Church;
·         in Confession it is harder to sweep things under the carpet, or to justify and excuse our faults;
·         to benefit from the psychological release of naming our sins;
·         to benefit from spiritual direction or counsel.
 
What is conscience?
Blessed John Henry Newman described it as a law of the mind; a messenger of Him who... speaks to us behind a  veil; the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.
To examine our conscience is to identify ways in which we have been unfaithful to God’s grace, to His law, to His Word.
 
General examination
In a general examination of conscience we examine ourselves with regard to all aspects of our lives making use, for example, of the Ten Commandments.
 
Particular examen
A particular examen is a useful tool for tackling a particular, persistent fault. Each evening, instead of making a general examination of conscience (which you would still need to do immediately before going to Confession), try the following:·         -         give thanks for all the graces of the day;
·         examine in what ways and how many times you have been unfaithful to that grace with regard to a particular fault;
·         make an Act of Contrition;
·         make a resolution for the next day concerning that particular fault, and ask for God’s help.
Take as long as necessary to root out that particular fault: days, weeks, months, perhaps longer.
 
Daily examination of conscience
Wisdom may be defined as seeing as God sees. When we examine our conscience we begin to see ourselves as God sees us. When we die and meet our Maker we shall certainly see ourselves as God sees us. Making a daily examination of conscience – continually refining our self-awareness – may help reduce the shock a little!

General confession
Perhaps once in a lifetime we might make a general confession, revisiting our entire life, renewing our sorrow for past sins, and making a fresh start. We might do this shortly before getting married, being ordained priest, or taking religious vows. Seek advice from a priest before making such a confession.
 
Different types of sin
The definition of a sin is an offence against God.
A sin is that which offends or displeases God, and which is contrary to divine law or precept.
 
Original Sin is that sin of pride and disobedience committed by Adam. 
 
Actual sins are so called because they result from our actions, our acts of the will. All of our actual sins – whatever other name we give them – are in reality sins of pride and disobedience.
 Formal and material sins: We commit a formal sin when we choose to transgress God’s Law. We commit a material sin when what we have done is wrong but we did not know at the time that it was wrong; harm has still been done but we may not know it (in this last regard, at least, it’s a little bit  like a hit-and-run driver who genuinely doesn’t know he’s hurt someone).
 
Mortal sin: cuts us off from the charity of God. When we are in a state of mortal sin we have lost the life of God within us (sanctifying grace). Just as a dead body cannot resurrect itself, so a soul which is dead to the life of God cannot revivify itself. We need the Sacrament of Confession. Three conditions must be present for a sin to be mortal:
·         we must have full knowledge of what we are doing and that it is wrong;
·         we must give the act our full consent;
·         the act itself must involve grave matter.
 
Venial Sin: is a lesser sin and does not cut us off from the charity of God but it damages our friendship with Him and weakens our love for Him and for others:
·         deliberate venial sins weaken the soul and need to be rooted out;
·         semi-deliberate venial sins are those committed with less deliberation and which may involve an element of surprise or impulse, but complacency about them would increase guilt and hinder our progress towards perfection;
·         sins of fraility are committed inadvertently, there is wrong-doing but little guilt because they involve no deliberate act of the will to offend God and are promptly disavowed. Even so, we need to purify ourselves of these.
Lots of venial sins do not add up to a mortal sin, but being attached to venial sins or allowing venial sins to become habitual could indeed lead to us to commit a mortal sin.
 
Imperfections are not in fact sins. They result from our fraility and weakness, as do sins of course, but they are minor slip-ups to which we do not give our full consent, or they are attachments to things which are morally neutral but which prevent us from becoming perfect. Imperfections are acts of lesser generosity in the service of God. An imperfection is something that is less good rather than actually evil.

Occasions of sin are not in themselves sins but are, rather, circumstances which are likely to lead sin. To place oneself deliberately into such a circumstance would be a sin.

Three conditions for a good Confession
1.  Contrition
Being sorry for our sins, and making a firm purpose of amendment (involving hatred for sin and turning from sin, and the promise at least to try – to intend – not to commit them again).
·         perfect contrition, or simply contrition, means to be sorry because we have offended God; it means desiring God for His own sake, desiring to be reunited with Him and His family in love;
·         imperfect contrition, or attrition, means being sorry because of the harm we have done, or because of the harm we fear will accrue to us, because of our sins.
 
Perfect contrition leads to the forgiveness of sin even without the Sacrament of Confession because the desire for forgiveness brings about forgiveness, for example in the case of someone on the point of death. Nevertheless, going to the Sacrament is the fruit, the outcome, of that desire for forgiveness, not an optional extra. It is also the case that this desire does not restore us to our place in the community of believers. In other words, we cannot go to Communion. To do this we must re-submit ourselves to the community – the Church – from which we have separated ourselves. So we must always go to Confession before we can go to Holy Communion if we have committed a mortal sin.
 
One of the effects of the Sacrament of Confession is to turn attrition (or imperfect contrition) into contrition (or perfect sorrow).
 
2. Confession
We must confess our sins, that is, we must accuse ourselves of our sins and, in the process, confess – or proclaim – our need for God’s mercy and grace. Our confession should be:
 ·         clear – no waffle;
·         sincere – no hiding or excusing;
·         humble – an accusation of guilt against self;
·         prudent – not confessing others’ sins;
·         entire – mention all mortal sins, how many times they were committed, and all (and only) those circumstances which might affect the level of guilt. A good Confession will also include venial sins and, perhaps, imperfections.
 
3. Satisfaction
We must make satisfaction for our sins by doing penance, and “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s affliction” (Col 1:24).
 
A good Confession always remits (cancels) the eternal punishment due to sin (in other words, hell) but not always all of the temporal punishment (the punishment that only lasts for a while). If there is punishment still due to us when we die – if we have not carried our share of the weight of the Cross like Simon of Cyrene – then we will spend time in purgatory. The penance helps to expiate (make amends for) our sins and remit some or all of the temporal punishment.
 
The penance is also intended to excite our desire for God and to heal our broken friendship with Him; to assure Him, as it were, that we desire to love Him.
 
If we fail to do our penance, our sins would still have been forgiven (the Sacrament would still be valid), but deliberately to neglect the penance would be a sin and should be confessed next time.


The life of virtue
A habit is a disposition of the soul or mind. If some-one is disposed towards patience, he has the habit of patience; if towards laziness, he has the habit of laziness. Good habits are called virtues; bad habits, vices.

·         A virtue is something that makes it easier to do the things we should do.
·         A vice is something that makes it harder not to do the things we shouldn’t do.
 
Confession is one of the best means available of turning a bad habit into a good habit. Repeatedly...
·         confessing the same sins,
·         opening the heart to God’s forgiveness and grace
·         receiving the strength to resist temptation,
·         seeking God’s guidance and illumination,
·         and persevering in good resolutions,
all help to reduce the hold a vice may have over us and turn our hearts towards God instead.
 
Confessing a new sin before it has time to become a habit is a powerful corrective.
 
Grace and good resolutions

Grace does not work in a vacuum; it elevates and perfects nature. In other words, God takes what we give Him, and He uses His grace to build on our good resolutions, our intentions and our efforts, in order to purify and sanctify them.
 
Detachment
Bit by bit we need to become detached from anything and everything (including stubbornly held opinions) that keeps us at arm’s length from God so that, eventually, everything we do is motivated by our love for Him and by our willingness to do His will. In other words we need to free our hearts from creatures (the things and even the people that God has created) in order to become attached solely to the Creator.
“For where your treasure is,
there will your heart be also”
(Mt 6:21).
*
“The great thing is to become saints,”
said St Philip, but he also said,
“You cannot become a saint in four days”.

Before going to Confession
 
Preparatory prayers  -  Even before examining your conscience spend some time in prayer to excite sorrow, to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit, to ask for help from Our Lady the Refuge of Sinners.
 
Examination of Conscience  -  In what ways have I been unfaithful to God’s grace, His love or His law?
 
1. Have I loved God with all my heart?
- Have I without sufficient reason missed Mass on   
  any Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation?
- Have I undertaken some small penance each Friday
  throughout the year, such as abstaining from meat?
- Have I used the name of God in vain, in anger, or
  carelessly? Have I used swear words?
- Have I shown disrespect for holy things, places, or
  people?
- Have I experimented with the occult, or trusted in
  fortune tellers of horoscopes?
- Have I neglected my daily prayers, or said them
  badly? Have I been inattentive at Mass?
- Have I been careless in my preparation for, or
  thanksgiving after, receiving the Sacraments?
- Have I received Holy Communion in a state of
  mortal sin?
- Have I given thanks to God for what He has given
  me?
- Have I placed my trust in Him? Have I resigned
  myself to His will?
 
2. Have I loved my neighbour as myself?
- Have I taken part in, or encouraged, abortion, the
  destruction of human embryos, euthanasia, or any
  other means of taking human life?
- Have I been violent towards, or abused, anyone
  verbally or physically?
- Have I been dishonest by stealing or cheating, or
  not paying proper wages, or bills, or debts, or not
  doing the work well for which I am paid or which
  it is my duty to do?

- Have I been uncharitable by thought, word, or deed,   
  or omission?
- Have I revealed the faults of others in idle gossip?
- Have I told lies, to injure anyone or to excuse
  myself?
- Have I revealed secrets I was bound to keep, or
  read other people’s letters?
- Have I contributed to the support of the Church
  according to my means?
- Have I been disobedient, rude, or sulky to those in
  authority over me?
- Have I been harsh, overbearing, or sarcastic to
  those under my authority?
- Have I brooded over injuries, been resentful, or
  refused to forgive?
- Have I been angry, envious, or jealous? Have I set
  my heart greedily on possessing things?
- Have I despised others, or given scandal, or bad
  example?
- Have I been vain, proud, selfish, or self-seeking?
- Have I been immodest or impure in thought, word,
  or deed with myself or with others? Have I made
  use of impure images on the computer, by watching
  films, or reading books/magazines?
- Have I been greedy or intemperate in eating or
  drinking? Have I taken illegal drugs?
- Have I given way to self-pity?
- Have I driven a vehicle without due regard to the
  safety of others or of myself?
- Have I been lazy at work, study, or domestic
  duties?
- Have I encouraged others to do wrong?
 
For married people and for parents:
- Have I failed to foster warmth of love and affection
  in my marriage?
- Have I prolonged disagreements or harboured
  resentments? Have I failed to apologize when I have
  been wrong?
- Have I mistreated my spouse verbally, emotionally,
  physically?
- Have I used artificial forms of birth control?
- Have I been unfaithful to my marriage vows in any
  way?
- Have  I failed to teach my children to pray, and to
love God, Our Lady, the angels and the saints?
- Have I failed to bring my children to Mass on any
  Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation?
- Have I neglected my duty to my children in regard
  to the practice of the Catholic Faith? Or with regard
  to their moral or general education?
- Have I been harsh or unjust to my children?
- Have I monitored my children’s well-being, for
  example by keeping an eye on what they watch on
  the TV or computer, what they read, or who they
  mix with?
- Have I sinned against the duties of married life?
 
Some Formulas of Catholic Doctrine to help you -
 
The Two Commandments of Love (or Precepts of Charity)
1. You shall love the Lord your God with all your
     heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
2. You shall love your neighbour as yourself.
 
The Ten Commandments
1.   You shall not have strange gods before me. You
      shall not make to yourself any graven thing, nor
      the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above,
      or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that
      are in the waters under the earth. You shall not
      adore them nor serve them.
2.   You shall not take the name of the Lord Your  
      God in vain.
3.   Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
4.   Honour your father and your mother.
5.   You shall not kill.
6.   You shall not commit adultery.
7.   You shall not steal.
8.   You shall not bear false witness against your
      neighbour.
9.   You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife.
10. You shall not covet your neighbour’s goods.
 
The Eight Beatitudes
1.  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the
     Kingdom of Heaven
2.  Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be
     comforted.
3.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the
     earth.
4.  Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for
     righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
5.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain
     mercy.
6.  Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see
     God.
7.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be
     called the children of God.
8.  Blessed are they that suffer persecution for
     justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 
The Seven Sacraments
1. Baptism                            5. Matrimony
2. Confession                       6. Holy Order
3. Holy Communion           7. Anointing of the Sick
4. Confirmation
 
The Three Theological Virtues
1.  Faith     2.  Hope     3.  Charity
 
The Four Cardinal Virtues
1.  Prudence                          3.  Fortitude
2.  Justice                               4.  Temperance
 
The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
1.  Wisdom                            5.  Knowledge.
2.  Understanding.               6.  Godliness.
3.  Counsel.                           7.  Fear of the Lord.
4.  Fortitude.
 
The Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit
1.   Charity.                           7.   Generosity.
2.   Joy.                                  8.   Gentleness.
3.   Peace.                              9.   Faithfulness.
4.   Patience.                         10. Modesty.
5.   Kindness.                        11. Self-control.
6.   Goodness.                       12. Chastity.
 
The Three Eminent Good Works
1.  Prayer.       2.  Fasting.      3.  Almsgiving.
 
The Three Evangelical Counsels
1.  Poverty.     2.  Chastity.     3.  Obedience

The Six Precepts of the Church
1.  To assist at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of
     Obligation and remain free from work or activity
     that could impede the sanctification of such days.
2.  To confess your sins at least once a year.
3.  To receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion at
     least once during the Easter season.
4.  To observe the days of fasting and abstinence
     established by the Church.
5.  To contribute to the support of the Church.
6.  To observe the laws of the Church concerning
     marriage.
 
The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy
1.  Feed the hungry.
2.  Give drink to the thirsty.              
3.  Clothe naked.
4.  Shelter the homeless.
5.  Visit the sick.
6.  Visit the imprisoned.
7.  Bury the dead.
 
The Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy
1.  Counsel the doubtful.
2.  Instruct the ignorant.
3.  Admonish sinners.
4.  Comfort the afflicted.
5.  Forgive offences.
6.  Bear wrongs patiently.
7.  Pray for the living and the dead.
 
The Seven Capital Sins
1.  Pride.                 5.  Gluttony.
2.  Covetousness.                 6.  Envy.
3.  Lust.                                  7.  Sloth.
4.  Anger.
 
The Four Last Things.
1.  Death.                               3.  Hell.
2.  Judgement.                      4.  Heaven.

Going to Confession in 8 easy steps
 
1.  Go into the confessional and shut the door and
     kneel down.
2.  Make the Sign of the Cross.
3.  Say,   “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It is….
     since my last confession.” 
4.  Tell the priest your sins. Be as clear as you can.
     When you have finished say, “For these and all
     my sins I am truly sorry and beg pardon and      
     forgiveness”.
5.  Listen to what the priest says and remember the
     penance he gives you.
6.  When he asks you to say the Act of Contrition
     say:
 
Short Act of Contrition:
O my God, because You are so good I am very sorry that I have sinned against You, and by the help of Your grace I will try not to sin again. Amen.
 
Longer Act of Contrition:
O my God, I am sorry and beg pardon for all my sins, and detest them above all things, because they deserve Your dreadful punishments, because they have crucified my loving Saviour Jesus Christ, and, most of all, because they have offended Your infinite goodness; and I firmly resolve, by the help of Your grace, never to offend You again, and carefully to avoid the occasions of sin. Amen
 
7.  Make the sign of the Cross when the priest
     absolves you.
8.  Go out of the Confessional, leaving the door open.
 
 
 
After Confession
 
·         Say your penance.
·         Make a thanksgiving.
·         Ask for God’s help to persevere in your new resolutions, your firm purpose of amendment.
·         Say a prayer for the priest.

 

 

 

 
 

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