The Commandments of the Church.
The particular Duties of your State
The Seven Deadly Sins:
where, in, and how often, you have offended
God by thought, word, deed, or omission.
REMEMBER ALWAYS TO COUNT YOUR SINS.
There are certain words never to be used in the confessional. Never say sometimes, a good many times, not often, very often. Never use such expressions, because they are all vague, indefinite terms; they do not give the priest any idea of the exact number of one’s sins. Tell the priest:
If you cannot give the exact number, give it as nearly as you can. Tell about how often. God does not require impossibilities. Doing the best you can, you need have no fear of telling a lie. To come as nearly as you can to the number is not lying. It is all you can do. But if you find this too difficult, because you have been absent from Confession a long time, then give an average number of the sins you have committed daily or weekly or monthly. Put one day or one week or one month with another, and see about how often in a day or in the week or in the month you have been in the habit of committing each sin.
Moreover, have some system in examining yourself and in telling your sins.
Follow the order of the Commandments.
EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE (reflecting upon your sins)
“I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.”
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”
“Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath Day.”
“Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother.”
1. Duty of Children
3. Duties of Wives and Mothers
“Thou shalt not kill”
Sixth Commandment and
shalt not commit adultery.”
Here the penitent must seriously consider past thoughts, words, and actions against these commandments. If one had the misfortune to break them, one must tell whether one is single or married; whether thoughts, words, desires, or acts referred to single or married persons or relatives.
(* In the Book of Genesis, Onan was commanded by his father to impregnate the widow of his slain brother and to raise the offspring of the union. In order to avoid raising descendants for his late brother, however, Onan engaged in coitus interruptus.)
shalt not steal.”
“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
Commandments of the Church (The 7 Precepts of the Church)
1. To hear Mass on Sundays and holydays of obligation.
The Seven Deadly Sins
The Four Sins Crying to Heaven for Vengeance
Nine Ways of being Accessory to Another’s Sin
Also, don’t forget to always confess all Venial sins that you might have committed — i.e. ingratitude, reckless driving, selfishness, rudeness etc.
HOW TO GO TO CONFESSION
Having prepared yourself for Confession, go to your confessor with great humility and modesty, and remember that you are about to present yourself before Jesus Christ Himself, who sees the depths of you heart, and will one day judge you. If you are obliged to wait, renew your act of contrition. Regard yourself as a criminal bound with chains, who has been tried and convicted, and is called before the judge who he has insulted and offended.
When at the feet of your confessor, kneel with the greatest reverence and humility, and consider that you are at the feet of Jesus crucified, who desires to hear from your own lips a sincere Confession of all your sins, and is ready to pardon them if you really repent, and to wash you in His own absolution. Avoid all mention of your virtues or of the sins of others not pertaining to your own offences, except when, through necessity, you seek direction and advice.
Never mention the names of others in the confessional. We enter the tribunal to accuse ourselves of our own sins, not to declare our virtues or to blame others.
Then make the Sign of the Cross, saying, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”
Then humbly, and in a clear, intelligible voice, say how long it is since your last Confession, whether you received absolution, and whether you performed you penance. Confess your sins according to the Commandments; that is, tell first all the sins committed against the First Commandment, then those committed against the Second, and so on.
Say if you frequently fall back into these sins, or if you have any attachment or occupation which leads you into temptation. Mention, also, if you have neglected to fulfill any serious obligation; — tell your confessor everything with sincerity and as clearly as possible, both that he may be able to apply the proper remedy, and that you may avoid making a bad Confession, which is easily done by the slothful and careless.
If you desire to make really good Confessions, imagine each Confession to be the last one you will ever make, and that, immediately after, you will be judged by Almighty God. Think that on this Confession may depend your salvation or damnation. Endeavor so to confess that at the hour of your death your past Confessions may not be the cause of any disquietude to you, but rather of consolation.
Listen with silence, attention, and humility to the instructions of your confessor; remark carefully the penance enjoined; and while receiving absolution, renew with all your heart your act of contrition and purpose of amendment
On leaving the confessional, excite in your heart the liveliest sentiments of consolation and confidence, hoping and rejoicing that God has forgiven your sins. Perform your penance as soon as possible, and thank God for the great favor He has granted you.
After Confession go before our Divine Lord in the Blessed Sacrament,
to make your thanksgiving for holy absolution. Spend at
least a quarter of an hour in forming acts of praise, thanksgiving,
and contrition. Our Lord delights to pour out His graces on
the grateful soul. Many shamefully go home from Confession
without saying one act of thanksgiving.
It is a sacrilege to make a bad Confession. To receive absolution after having made an unworthy Confession, and consequently without having the right dispositions, is to incur the guilt of sacrilege; that is, the violation of a sacred thing. A bad Confession hinders and frustrates the instrumental action of the Sacrament of Penance, and he who is guilty of it may be said thus to destroy the efficacy of the Blood of Jesus Christ; for it is in the precious Blood of our Lord, shed long ago, that souls are cleansed from sin.
Our Lord, instituted the Sacraments as so many channels through which His Precious Blood may be applied to souls, quickening them with and sustaining them in, a new and higher life. In Baptism, for instance, when the water flows over the head of the child, and the words are pronounced, at the same moment, in virtue of the Blood of our Lord, its soul is cleansed from sin, and it is awakened to the new life of a child of God and heir of Heaven.
In like manner, in the sacred tribunal of Penance, when the penitent comes properly disposed, as soon as the priest raises his hand over him and pronounces the words of absolution, through the Divine agency of the Blood of our Lord, the soul is laved and purified of all its sins, no matter how great they may be; for Christ has said, “Whose sins ye shall forgive, they are forgiven.” But if the penitent has not the proper disposition there is a sacrilege, for the Blood of our Lord is in a manner destroyed – rendered ineffectual in that case. And, what is worse, a bad Confession is generally followed by a bad Communion. How great a crime is committed by unworthily receiving our Lord in Communion! They who do so, as St. Paul says, are guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. You have heard, perhaps of the unnatural mother who took her lovely smiling babe and buried it alive. Oh, how much greater is the crime of the bad Catholic who will bury the living Son of God in a heart foul with every crime, worse than any grave, however horrible! How will such a wretch one day answer an enraged Father for what may be called the murder of His adorable Son?
What has been said was not to terrify or keep you away from the Sacraments. God forbid! The priest does not desire to frighten people away from the table of the Lord, but to press them to come to the Feast. You know, that if you do not approach and receive Holy Communion,“you cannot have life in you;” that is, the life of the soul, the life of the children of God. Yes, go to Communion – go frequently! It will nourish and strengthen your soul. Our Lord will dwell in you; He will support you. He will sustain you in your conflicts with the devil. Remember that what has been said was only to guard you against that carelessness with which too many, alas, approach the Sacraments.
The term “General Confession” must
not be mistaken for “Ordinary Confession”.
A General Confession is usually
only required of those who have gone for a year or more
without the Sacrament of Confession.
A General Confession is often
long and should not be attempted in the queue for ordinary Confession,
since it would deprive the other waiting penitents the opportunity
for their ordinary (and generally much shorter) Confession.
A General Confession involves the confessing of all
ones sins that had been committed since one’s last Confession. Needless
to say, one can accumulate quite a bit in the way of sin in one
year, and substantially more when it has been longer.]
It is not necessary to make a General Confession. For some, it would be profitable, and there are some to whom a General Confession is absolutely necessary; but there are others to whom it would be hurtful. First: a General Confession is useful to those who have been leading a tepid, careless life. To such persons it is often the beginning of a life of fervor. There are eight classes of persons who are under the necessity of making a General Confession:
1. All those who, in some past Confession, willfully concealed a mortal sin through shame, fear, or indifference.
2. Those who, instead of having used sufficient diligence, having been grossly negligent in the examination of their conscience.
3. Those who have lived in gross and culpable ignorance of the necessary points of faith and practice.
4. Those who have confessed without sincere repentance for the past, and a firm resolution of avoiding sin, and the occasions of sin, in the future.
5. Those who continue to go to Confession while they live in the immediate occasions of sin, which they can, but will not, avoid.
6. Those who have deliberately neglected restitution when they had the power and opportunity of making it.
7. Those who lived in vicious habits without earnestly trying to overcome them.
8. Those who have (after their Confessions the same as before) continued to live in enmity, hatred and malice.
Thirdly, scrupulous persons and those who have often made general Confessions should not attempt to make a general Confession. Such persons worry the priest. They say to themselves, “Well, if I am allowed to make a general Confession now, I shall be satisfied.” But if they are allowed to make it, they will be as dissatisfied as ever.
The best proof of true sorrow is a change of life. When a man immediately falls into the sins which he has just confessed, almost without a struggle to guard against such a fall, there is reason to fear that he had no true sorrow. But when a man carefully watches over himself, tries to shun the dangerous occasions of sin, and prays fervently for graces to keep from sinning, we can reasonably hope that his was true sorrow such as God accepts.
There can be no true contrition, and therefore, no good Confession, unless there be a purpose of amendment. It is an act of the will by which you firmly resolve to commit sin no more, to change your lives, and to do penance for the past. If you are really sorry for what you have done, you shall also be firmly resolved to avoid the same and other offenses in the future.
This purpose of amendment ought to be firm, that is, you must have a fixed will never again to commit sin, no matter what temptations may arise, no matter what you may have to endure in proving your fidelity to God; you must be determined to use the means necessary to avoid sin, such as shunning its occasions and following the directions of your confessor; it must extend not only to those mortal sins which you have committed, but to all mortal sins. In this respect, your purpose of amendment must be like your contrition. You should set no limit to it. You must hate and determine to avoid sin. You should have no pet sin held in reserve. Unless all be renounced, none will be forgiven: for the love of God cannot exist in the same heart with mortal sin, nor will God take up His dwelling in the same house with His enemy.
If you are weak, do not imagine that you cannot promise to be faithful. God is our strength. Grace will conquer nature and sin.“I can do all things in Him who strengthens me,” says St. Paul. Do not hesitate, therefore; your present will is what you must regard. Are you here and now determined, with God’s grace, to do all you can to avoid sin in the future? If so, take courage; God will strengthen you.
If you fall at the first attack, if you make no struggle against temptation, if you employ none of the means given you to avoid sin, then you may judge that you were not sincere. But if you cannot in any of these ways reproach yourself, only learn from your weakness, lessons of humility, and begin again. Oh, yes! no matter how often you fall, never cease to trust in the mercy of God, even while you keep before your eyes the strictness of His justice.
HABITUAL SINNERS AND SINS OF HABIT
It is easy to account for some who become slaves to their passions. In the first place, we are all, because of your fallen nature, prone to sin:“The life of man upon earth is warfare,” says holy Job. We must all fight, and no man, St. Paul declares, will be crowned “except he strive lawfully.” “Strive,” says our Lord, “to enter by the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able,” because they do not strive hard. Again, “the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away.” One of the holy Fathers compares the heart to a rich garden. This garden, if neglected, is soon filled with noxious weeds. Foreign seeds will be carried there by the wind, and unless you pluck up the young plants by the roots, you will soon have a forest to contend with. Another Father compares our passions to the lion’s whelp. You can easily strangle it when young; but if you nourish it a little, it will become a wild beast, which will one day devour you. There was a time, when the miserable man who dies a victim of his intemperance could have said, “I can drink and I can let it alone.” A little later he acquired the habit of drink, and could no longer let it alone. He fed the wild beast of his passion until it became strong enough to devour him. So it is with every other sin.
When passions become strong, or when bad habits have been fostered for a long time, it is hard to overcome them. When you indulge in any passion, it becomes strong, a second nature, and therefore very difficult to overcome. No matter how bad you may be, how long you may have been given to the worst kinds of sin, if you do your part, God can and will lift you up and will break all the fetters that bind you.
In order to break off bad habits, such as those cursing, drinking and impurity, you must be fully determined not to commit those sins again. Without that determination, your conversion would be a mockery. You must realize that your habit of cursing or drinking or impurity was formed by repeated acts.
You are bound to overcome such a habit. Nor can you excuse yourself, as many do, by saying that you have the habit. By willfully placing yourself in such a state you are responsible for the many crimes it leads you to commit. A mere desire to do better is not sufficient. You must have a strong will to do better. You must then vigorously and watchfully labor to destroy your bad habits. But how many show by their lives that they are never in earnest, that they never sincerely and courageously strive to overcome themselves! They are satisfied with wishing to change their lives, but they never make a real effort to do so. Hence you will often see people make the Mission, but alas! you will also see them in a few days returning to their old haunts of sin, committing the same crimes that but a short time before, they had solemnly promised God to abandon forever.
This happens because they are not fully determined to keep from falling into their old habits. When you have a firm will not to return to your former sins, you will endeavor to avoid the occasions of them. What would you think of a man who would throw a dry log into a burning furnace, and yet declare he did not wish the log to burn? If you say you do not wish to sin, and yet go into places, or associate with companions who, you know, will drag you back into sin, you are equally senseless. Oh, how true it is, “He that loveth danger shall perish in it!” Not only must you have a firm resolution not to return to your old ways, not only must you avoid as far as you can every occasion of sin, but you must also pray earnestly to God for strength to keep your good resolutions.“Ask and ye shall receive,” says our Lord. Pray earnestly, fervently and constantly for grace to overcome your temptations.
You are tempted. Who is not? But, in the language of St. Paul, “God will make issue with temptations,” that you may overcome them. You must remember that our Lord knows your weakness. He shed His Blood for us. By its virtue the soul is cleanses and its wounds healed in Confession, and He gives Himself to us in Holy Communion to be our soul’s food and nourishment. Men are wounded, but they will not come to the Divine Physician. They are weak, but they will not come to the Divine Table to obtain strength! Is it not evident that they desire to remain slaves to their passions when they do not make use of the proper means to overcome them?
Remember what has been said: “Let your Confession be supplemented by a firm resolution of never again offending God, and a strong determination of avoiding all occasions of sin. Go to the Sacraments to obtain strength to keep those resolutions, and pray fervently to our Lord for grace, lest the enemy should overcome you.
Lastly, be devoted to our dear Immaculate Mother, the refuge of sinners, the help of Christians. Beg of her to shield you under the mantle of her protection from all the fiery darts of your bitter enemy; and be assured that, no matter what may have been your habits, you will overcome them. God will one day crown you with victory.
PRAYER BEFORE CONFESSION
Most merciful God, Father in heaven, relying on Thy goodness and mercy, I come to Thee with filial confidence to confess my sins and to implore Thy forgiveness. Thou wilt not despise a contrite and humble heart. Bless me and receive me again into Thy favor; I acknowledge that I have been most ungrateful to Thee, but I sincerely repent and detest the wrong I have done, and I desire henceforth to walk in the way of perfection, in accordance with Thy holy will.
O Jesus, my Savior, my good Shepherd, I have strayed far from the path Thou hast marked out for me; I did not follow in Thy footsteps; I wandered into forbidden places. Repentant and sorrowful, I beg to be admitted again into the fold of Thy faithful followers. I want to confess my sins with perfect sincerity, as if I were at the point of death. My Jesus, I look to Thee with confidence for the grace to examine my conscience well.
O Holy Ghost, come in Thy mercy; enlighten my mind and strengthen my will that I may know my sins, humbly confess them, and sincerely amend my life.
Mary, my mother, immaculate spouse of the Holy Ghost, refuge to sinners, assist me in Thy intercessions.
Holy angels and saints of God, pray for me. Amen.
O Holy Ghost, Source of all light, Spirit of wisdom, of understanding and of knowledge, come to my assistance and enable me to make a good confession. Enlighten me, and help me now know my sins as one day I shall be forced to recognize them before Thy judgment seat. Bring to my mind the evil which I have done and the good which I have neglected. Permit me not to be blinded by self-love. Grant me, moreover, heartfelt sorrow for my transgressions, and the grace of a sincere confession, so that I may be forgiven and admitted into Thy friendship. Amen.
ACT BEFORE CONFESSION
thank Thee O my God!
For having waited for me until now! I hope, through
the merits of Jesus Christ, for the pardon of all my offenses against
Thee! I am sorry for them, and repent of them with my whole heart,
because by them I have lost heaven and have deserved hell; but,
above all, I am grieved to my inmost soul, and hate and detest my
sins more than all evils, because they have offended Thy infinite
goodness. I purpose in future rather to die than to offend Thee
any more. Amen.
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, 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 Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.
how much do I not owe Thee? By the merits of Thy
blood I hope that I have this day been pardoned. I thank Thee above
all things. I hope to reach heaven, where I shall praise Thy mercies
forever. My God, if I have hitherto lost Thee so often, I now desire
to lose Thee no more. From this day forward I will change my life
in earnest. Thou dost merit all my love; I will love Thee truly;
I will no longer see myself separated from Thee. I have promised
Thee this already; now I repeat my promise of being ready to die
rather than offend Thee again. I promise also to avoid all occasions
of sin, and to use such means as will prevent me from falling again.
My Jesus, Thou knowest my weakness: give me grace to be faithful
to Thee till death, and to have recourse to Thee when I am tempted.
My most holy Mary, help me! Thou art the mother of perseverance;
I place my hope in thee.
this confession, O Lord,
by the merits of Blessed Mary ever virgin,
Thy Mother, and of all the saints, be pleasing and acceptable in
Thy sight. Let Thy goodness and mercy supply for whatever has been
wanting in my contrition, and in the purity and integrity of my
confession. Deign Thou mercifully to regard me perfectly and entirely
absolved in heaven; Who livest and reignest God, world without end.
O Almighty and most merciful God, Who, according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies, hast vouchsafed once more to receive Thy prodigal child, after so many times going astray from Thee, and to admit me to this Sacrament of reconciliation; I give Thee thanks with all the powers of my soul for this and all other mercies, graces, and blessings bestowed on me; and prostrating myself at Thy sacred feet, I offer myself to be henceforth forever Thine. Oh! Let nothing in life or death ever separate me from Thee. I renounce with my whole soul all my treasons against Thee, and all thee abominations and sins of my past life. I renew my promises made in Baptism, and from this moment I dedicate myself eternally to Thy love and service. Oh! Grant that for the time to come I may abhor sin more than death itself, and avoid all such occasions and companies as have unhappily brought me to it. This I resolve to do, by the aid of Thy divine grace, without which I can do nothing. I beg Thy blessing upon these my resolutions, that they may not be ineffectual, like so many others I have formally made; for, O Lord, without Thee I am nothing but misery and sin. Give me grave to be now and always a true penitent, through the same Christ Thy Son. Amen.
Eternal Father! I thank Thee, I bless Thee, for Thy goodness and mercy. Thou has had compassion on me, although in my folly I had wandered far away from Thee and offended Thee most grievously. With father love Thou has received me anew after so many relapses into sin and forgiven me my offenses through the holy sacrament of Penance. Blessed forever, O my God, be Thy loving-kindness, Thy infinite mercy! Never again will I grieve Thee by ingratitude, by disobedience to Thy holy will. All that I am, all that I have, all that I do shall be consecrated to Thy service and Thy glory. Amen.
of Jesus, I put my trust in Thee!”
“Jesus, my God, I love Thee above all things.”
Indulgence of 300 days, each time. – S.P. Ap., July 28, 1932.
O Divine Spirit! penetrate my soul with true horror and loathing of sin. Grant that I may be more exact in the fulfillment of all my duties, and strengthen me by Thy grace, that I may not again yield to temptation.
“Sweet heart of Mary, by my salvation.”
Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.”
My queen! My mother! Remember that I am thine; keep me, guard me, as thy property and possession.
“O Mary, our hope, have pity on us!”
Indulgence of 300 days. – Pius X, January 8, 1906.
PRAYER TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN, TO BE SAID AFTER CONFESSION
Virgin Mother of God, most holy Mary safe refuge of sinners! to thee, who art, after God, our hope and consolation in this place of exile, to thee I have recourse with sincere confidence, though most undeserving of thy patronage. I know, one the one hand, how much I stand in need of being converted from my very heart; yet, on the other, the heinousness of my crimes strikes me terror. To thee, then, I betake myself-to thee who art our sovereign mediator with thy dear Son Jesus, as He is with His eternal Father. To thee, after Jesus, must I look for my amendment. Vouchsafe then, O Mother of mercy, to obtain for me the grace of a true and lasting conversion. I wish to change my life entirely. In this I am sincere; but my evil habits and ill-use I have made of so many saving inspirations, the multitude and heinousness of my sins , and the bonds by which the world holds me, while they render amendment difficult, call for thy special assistance. Grant it to me in spite of my unworthiness. In thee I trust; do thou not reject me. Although deserving of eternal punishment, I throw myself at thy feet, sorrowful and repentant. My sins, I own, have taken from me the strength which grace imparts, have cast me out from among the adopted sons of God, have deprived me of the right to everlasting happiness, and drawn on me instead the wrath of heaven. Tell me what I must do to regain the friendship of thy Son, Jesus. Beg of Him, by His precious Blood, His bitter Passion, and cruel death on the cross, to pardon my offenses, and He will pardon them. Tell Him thy desire for my salvation, and He will save me. But as I can still fail into sin and lose the life of grace amid the dangers which encompass me, ever watch thou over me, and I shall surely triumph over the enemies who incessantly work for my ruin. Instill into my heart a lively faith, a firm hope, an ardent charity, and all the virtues suitable to my state of life; and obtain for me constancy in good, and final perseverance. In fine, be thou my loving Mother here below, and my advocate at the hour of death, that I may be of the number of those to whom the divine Son shall say:“Come , ye blessed of My Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you.” Amen.
An indulgence of 100 days, once a day; plenary once a month on the last day of the month, or within eight days, on the usual conditions — Pope Leo XII., Jan. 30, 1828.
The Death of Saint Dominic in Bologna in 1221
This article is a redacted reprint from the:
TRADITIONAL ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Geoffrey K. Mondello
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