How to Go Back to Confession
Admitting our guilt is never an easy thing. When we have to admit our guilt before God, the task can seem overwhelming—so overwhelming that we put off going to Confession as long as possible, or fail to go entirely. Often, Confession feels like the easiest thing to let fall by the wayside when life gets busy. However, we must remember that God is always calling us back to Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. God already knows, after all, when we have sinned, and He desires that we repent so that He can show us His Divine Mercy rather than punish us.
But what if it has been months or years since you have been to Confession? The longer you stay away from Confession, the easier it appears to keep staying away. What if you don’t remember what you are supposed to do? The good news is that if you are truly sorry for your sins and seek to reconcile yourself to God, you have already taken the first step. Take a look at our Confession Guide to refresh your memory, and you will be ready to begin your examination of conscience.
Taking the time to examine your conscience before going to Confession is important. You should already know what you are going to say when you walk into the confessional. This is not because the priest wants to speed things along—rather, it is because good preparation means you have genuinely identified your sins and are truly sorry for them. If it has been a while since you thought about your sins, start with the Ten Commandments. Consider carefully what each of the commandments is instructing, and think about the times you have failed to uphold those instructions. The point is not, in the long run, to make you feel bad. It is to strengthen your sorrow for your sins and your resolve not to commit them again so that you can grow closer to God. A good place to work on examining your conscience is in the silence of meditation or before the Blessed Sacrament.
Once you have prayerfully prepared for Reconciliation, check your local parish bulletin or website for when the Sacrament is offered. Often, this will be directly before or after Mass. Some parishes require you to make an appointment with the priest, but do not hesitate to get in touch; he will be happy to hear your confession! If you are feeling especially intimidated, keep an eye out for penance services that many parishes offer periodically, especially during Lent.
Generally, when you begin your confession, you will tell the priest how long it has been since your last confession. This does not have to scare you. If you feel guilty about how long it has been, then make that part of your confession and strengthen your dedication to receive the sacrament more often. The priest will not yell at you or judge you. He will probably recommend going to Confession more often, but this is for your benefit rather than a judgment.
If you feel nervous during your confession or forget one of the steps, do not hesitate to ask the priest for help. After all, the priest is forgiving your sins in Jesus’s name: he genuinely wants to see you make a good confession. It is important to follow the steps of the sacrament, but it is even more important that Reconciliation reveals your sorrow for your sins and God’s great mercy. If you approach the idea of confession with that in mind, it will be easier to return to Reconciliation if you have been gone for a long time, and to keep going back.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a great gift to us from God. He only asks that we accept it.