SOME INFORMATION ABOUT CONFESSION

Confession is offered before every Mass, on Saturdays after the 10am Mass, and by appointment.

What is Confession?

Confession is one of the seven Sacraments instituted by Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. Through this Sacrament Jesus continues his healing ministry. In it we obtain forgiveness for our sins and we are reconciled with God and the Church. The sacrament “washes us clean,” and renews us in Chris

Isn't confession just an excuse to do whatever I want? I will just simply confess it…

Confession is not simply an enumeration of various sins but a genuine sorrow over sin in a Christian’s life. A firm resolution and an honest promise to try to do our best to avoid sins in the future must be an essential part of every Confession.

I have never been to confession...

Sometimes we get nervous about going to Confession. But don’t let nerves or fear hold you back. Remember that it is the Lord we meet in Confession. Christ touches our life through the priest, whoever he is; and every priest will keep your Confession absolutely secret for the rest of his life..

So what does the Church of England teach about confession?

Anyone who feels their conscience is troubled “should make a special confession of their sins, that the priest may absolve them if they humbly and heartily desire it.” Canons of the Church of England (B 29) and Book of Common Prayer

Is Confession in the Bible?

Just a few examples:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2Chronicles 7,14

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1,8-9

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5,16

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1,9

Fine, but why should I confess my sins to a priest?

During his life-time Christ forgave sins.  He knew he would not always be with the Church physically and visibly, so he delegated this power to other men for the sake of future generations.  He gave this as a communicable power to the apostles so it could be passed on to their successors, the bishops. 

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” John 20,21-23

Or in Matthew 18,18  “Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Note that all of this is God's doing.  It is he who, through Christ, has reconciled us to himself, and allowed us to minister this reconciliation of his to others (2 Cor 5,18).  Indeed, confirms St. Paul, “We are Christ's ambassadors” (2 Cor 5,20).

Can’t I just confess my sins directly to God in prayer?

As you could see in the previous questions, for some reason God wanted to delegate his power of forgiveness of sins to the Church. Why? We don’t know. But since it is God that is offended by sin, it is his right to set down the conditions for forgiveness. We cannot insist of God that he forgive our sins on our own conditions.

However, remember that even in Confession you are confessing your sins to God. But the words of absolution are pronounced by the priest, giving you an objective and external assurance of forgiveness; assurance that we could never have in private prayer.

Why should I need Confession?

Jesus knows what dwells in our heart (John 2,24). We must never doubt that he knew what he was doing. We would never doubt how the other Sacraments (Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Marriage, Anointing) are signs of his wisdom and goodness, and how necessary these Sacraments are in our Christian life. Why would not this be true of the Sacrament of Confession as well?

What are the benefits of Confession?

Some of the benefits: a) We have the assurance of forgiveness of all our sins. b) We will know ourselves better. Frequent Confession makes us realise how fallen we are, and how badly we need God’s help and grace. c) The grace we receive  in Confession helps us to combat our faults and failings and break our habits of vice. d) When we hear God’s forgiving words to us from the lips of the priest in Confession, a burden is lifted off our shoulders and peace and joy fill our hearts. e) Confession makes our will stronger. In each Confession God strengthens our will and our self-control to help us to keep our promise of holier life.

What should I confess? And how often?

It is our duty to mention in Confession all our serious sins; and we are encouraged to mention some of our other smaller sins and everyday faults. If you are not sure what to say or do, don’t worry – tell the priest, and ask him to help you as you begin. It is recommended to go to Confession once a month.

I don’t think I have “big sins”!

Good! Confession is still a meeting with Christ! Why would you miss out on it? It is still Christ’s healing touch! Don’t we all need it? It still gives us grace to become better persons and better Christians. Why not to use this grace? Also, see all the other benefits of this Sacrament above.

So what should I do before confession?

Pray for God’s help and guidance; examine your conscience; remember any sins you have committed (write them down if it helps); pray for God’s forgiveness. A possible prayer:

Give me light, O my God, to see what sins I have committed since my last confession, and the grace humbly to confess them. I ask you to help me to be truly sorry for them. Grant me perfect sorrow so that I may obtain forgiveness for all my sins.

What happens during confession?

Don’t worry, as long as you say your sins and express your sorrow over them, you should be fine. There is no right or wrong way doing this. However, the priest will give you a simple Order of Service to help you.

And what about after confession?

If it is possible now, do your penance in the church before you leave; e.g. if you have been asked to say a certain prayer, kneel down and say it now.

Pray for a moment in thanksgiving for the forgiveness you have received in this sacrament; and pray for God’s help to live a new life. You might feel peace and joy. Or you may not. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have been forgiven and been given new life.

A possible prayer:

Lord my God, I thank you for the great gift of  your forgiveness. I will now try to love you with all my heart and soul and mind, and I will try to love others too. Help me by your holy grace.

Any help to examine my conscience?

We can examine our conscience comparing our life to the Ten Commandments, to Jesus’ Commandment of Love and Charity, or to the lists of virtues and sins St. Paul offers us in his letters. Some verses from the Bible we can use: Romans 12,9-21; 1Corinthians 13,4-8a.13; Galatians 5,16-26; Ephesians 4,25-32; Ephesians 5,1-10; Colossians 3,1-17; 1Thessalonians 5,12-22.

Some questions we may want to ask ourselves:

How is my prayer life? Have I been ashamed of God or my faith? Have I acted against my conscience or faith? Have I missed worship on Sundays through my own fault? Have I received Communion without proper reverence and preparation? Have I been involved with the occult, e.g., with ouija boards, séances, tarot cards, fortune telling, or the like? Have I used God’s holy Name irreverently? Have I neglected my spouse/parents/family or my duties towards them? Have I been disrespectful towards them? Do I support and care for the well-being of all family members, especially the elderly and the sick? Have I mistreated them verbally, emotionally or physically? Have I been unfaithful to my spouse in any way? Do I teach my children to pray? Do I try to be kind and generous with everyone I meet? Do I share what I have with the poor and with the Church according to my means? Have I been impatient, angry or jealous? Have I brooded over injuries or refused to forgive? Do I hate anybody or wish them ill? Have I taken part in or encouraged abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia or any other means of taking human life? Have I been verbally or physically violent to others? Have I hurt anyone by speaking badly about them? Have I betrayed confidences without good cause or revealed things simply to hurt others? Have I judged others rashly? Have I been drunk or used illegal drugs? Do I care for my own physical, emotional, and spiritual health? Have I driven dangerously or inconsiderately? Have I spoken in an obscene way? Have I been vain, proud, selfish or self-seeking? Have I stolen anything? Have I cheated my employers or employees? Have I misused or damaged the property of others? Have I set my heart on possessing things? Have I given scandal or bad example? Have I encouraged others to do wrong in any way? Have I been lazy at my work, study or domestic duties? Do I tell the truth, even if it is inconvenient? But do I tell truth in a kind and charitable way? Do I lie or mislead people? Have I ridiculed or humiliated anyone? Am I grateful for the things I have and for the blessings God has given me - or am I always complaining?

St Paul's

St Paul’s is a lively, forward-looking Anglican church in the Catholic tradition. We are affiliated to the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda and our PCC has passed the resolution seeking episcopal oversight from the Bishop of Ebbsfleet.

We are part of the diocese of Salisbury and the Deanery of Weymouth and Portland. We maintain very close links with our Voluntary Aided School, Beechcroft St. Paul’s. 

Get in touch

58 Abbotsbury Road

Weymouth

DT4 0BJ

01305 771217

stpweymouth@gmail.com

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