What confession is not:
The confessional is NOT a place where anyone goes to receive forgiveness for any sin, any time they choose to, with the intention of returning back to their sins afterward. In fact, the Church teaches that abuse of sacrament is a sacrilege, one of which is lying to a priest, insincere repentance; having the intention of sinning again while confessing; having a willful attachment to sin; refusing to let go of sin even while confessing. We believe that God does not forgive those who are insincere before Him, only those who meet these conditions are actually forgiven:
- Recognition of the evil of one’s sin
- Sincerely confessing them to the priest without wilfully withholding any detail.
- Being truly sorry, which precludes, the clear intention to be better, to discard all instruments of sin one possesses, and to restore what one has damaged or unjustly taken.
- To do penance and to struggle against such sins afterwards.
This does not mean that if one has an unhealthy dependence on sin or is addicted that God does not forgive them. Read more here
Examine your conscience:
Prayerfully examining your conscience is always a good place to start. This is more than simply remembering your sins, it is renewing your sense of disgust for each and every sin you have committed. You ask for the Spirit of God to shine his light on your darkness, so you can see through his eyes, the real state of your soul. I personally like to call on the help of Mary and my Guardian Angel, to help me recall and to help ask God for the grace of true contrition.
This is a wonderful examination of conscience by the USCCB.
Plan your confession:
Decide to make the move to a priest. Look up confession times, set a reminder, take it seriously. When it is time, do not be late. Go early so you can renew your resolve in front of the Blessed Sacrament and also get some time to pray afterward. If you have things to do, you can skip this, but do not forget to do your penance.
Confession and Penance
Confessing your sins has to be like talking to God in your heart. Say EVERYTHING, do not wilfully keep anything back. Keeping back a mortal sin pretty much invalidates your confession. Unless you forgot something, then it is fine. You can receive communion after but remember to confess that sin during your next visit.
After talking to the priest listen to his words. Answer questions, heed the counsel. Let God speak to you through the ministry of his priest. Do the penance EXACTLY AS GIVEN. Do not try to modify or be smart. Obedience is part of it.
After: what next
After the confessional and penance, you must do restitution. If there is anything you stole or broke, you have to fix it. This is a requirement for receiving God’s mercy. You also must try to forgive others who have injured you. It must not be immediately nor must it be perfect forgiveness. God wants you to regularly make an effort; correct yourself when you falter and keep trying.
You also must remember to sever all ties to sin and the occasions of sin. It is not enough to confess sins or to try to avoid committing sin, you must also run from anything that exposes you to risk. We are weak, we almost will certainly fall into sin anytime the temptation is strong. Especially those to which we are most susceptible.a