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This sacrament is a powerful help to get rid of our weaknesses, grow in holiness, and lead a balanced and virtuous life.
A helpful pattern for examination of conscience is to review the Commandments of God and the Precepts of the Church: Begin your confession with the sign of the cross, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Three simultaneous conditions must be fulfilled for a mortal sin: 1) the act must be something very serious; 2) the person must have sufficient understanding of what is being done; 3) the person must have sufficient freedom of the will.
If you need help-especially if you have been away for some time-simply ask the priest and he will help you by "walking" you through the steps to make a good confession. The essential act of Penance, on the part of the penitent, is contrition, a clear and decisive rejection of the sin committed, together with a resolution not to commit it again, out of the love one has for God and which is reborn with repentance.
My last confession was _______ weeks (months, years) ago." The priest may read a passage from holy Scripture. Start with the one(s) that is most difficult to say.
(In order to make a good confession the faithful must confess all mortal sins, according to kind and number.) After confessing all the sins you remember since your last good confession, you may conclude by saying, "I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past life." Listen to the words of the priest. Doing the penance will diminish the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.