When asked about what counsels he would give penitents for a good confession, Pope Francis replied, “They should consider the truth of their lives before God, what they feel, what they think. They should be able to observe themselves and their sin with sincerity. And they should feel themselves to be sinners and let themselves be surprised, amazed by God” (Pope Francis, The Name of God Is Mercy, pp. 58-59).


It consists of asking ourselves about the evil committed and the good omitted in relation to God, our neighbor, and ourselves.

In Relation to God

Do I address God only when I am in need?
Do I take part in the Mass on Sundays and days of obligation?
Do I begin and end my day with prayer?
Have I taken the name of God, Mary, or the saints in vain?
Have I been ashamed to be seen as a Christian?
What do I do to grow spiritually? How? When?
Do I rebel against God’s designs?
Do I expect Him to do my will?

In Relation to Our Neighbor

Am I able to forgive, show compassion for, and help my neighbor?
Have I defamed, robbed, or disdained children and the defenseless?
Am I envious, wrathful, or biased?
Do I take care of the poor and the sick?
Am I ashamed of the humanity of my brother or my sister?
Am I honest and just to everyone or do I foster the “culture of casting aside”?
Have I incited others to do wrong?
Do I observe the Gospel’s moral teaching on marriage and the family?
How do I handle my educational responsibilities towards my children?
Do I honor and respect my parents?
Have I refused newly-conceived life?
Have I extinguished the gift of life?
Have I helped to do so?
Do I respect the environment?

In Relation to Ourselves

Am I a bit worldly and a bit of a believer?
Do I exaggerate in eating, drinking, smoking, and entertainment?
Am I too concerned about my physical health and my possessions?
How do I use my time?
Am I lazy?
Do I want to be served?
Do I love and cultivate purity of heart and in thoughts and actions?
Do I think about revenge or hold grudges?
Am I meek and humble, a builder of peace?


When you approach as a penitent, the priests cordially welcomes you with words of encouragement.
He renders the merciful Lord present.
Together with the priest, make the sign of the cross, saying,

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The priest helps you to open yourself to trust in God with these or similar words:

May God, who has enlightened every heart, help you to know your sins and trust in his mercy.

The priest, as circumstances permit, either reads or says from memory a text from Sacred Scripture speaking of the mercy of God and calling us to conversion.

If you forgive others for their failings, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your failings. (Mt 6:14-15)

At this point you may confess your sins. If necessary, the priest helps you with questions and suitable advice. The priest invites the penitent to manifest repentance by reciting the Act of Contrition or another similar formula:

O my God, I am sorry with all my heart for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because of your just punishments, 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 amend my life, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Amen.


Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.


Lord, remember your love, your faithfulness enduring forever. Do not bear in mind my sins: remember me in your mercy, for the sake of your goodness, Lord. (Ps 24:6-7)

The priest, placing his hands (or at least his right hand) upon the head of the penitent, says,

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son + and of Holy Spirit.

You respond: Amen.

After absolution the priest continues:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

You respond: His mercy endures forever.

The priest then takes leave of you, saying:

The Lord has freed you from your sins. Go in peace.

Source:Pontifical Council For The Promotion Of The New Evangelization