1480 like all sacraments, penance is a liturgical action. the elements of the celebration are ordinarily these:  a greeting and blessing from the priest, reading the word of god to illuminate the conscience and elicit contrition, and an exhortation to repentance; the confession, which acknowledges sins and makes them known to the priest; the imposition and acceptance of a penance; the priest's absolution; a prayer of thanksgiving and praise and dismissal with the blessing of the priest.

 (excerpts taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church;   copyright © 1994 Concacan Inc., Canada)

how to go to reconciliation 


  • Begin by making the sign of the cross and saying, “Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been _____(weeks, months, years) since my last confession."


  • Then you will tell the priest the sins that you have committed since your last confession.

You do not have to go into any explicit detail of your sins unless the priest feels it is necessary. If you feel it is necessary you can tell him the circumstances.   You may also ask him for advice regarding the sin.

  • When you are finished, you will tell the priest, "For all my sins I am truly sorry."

The priest will briefly discuss the effects of your sins and will offer advice and encouragement on leading a better Christian life. 

  • He will give you a penance to perform (usually a prayer or good deed) and may offer you advice to help you be a better Catholic.


  • The priest may ask you to say the Act of Contrition, expressing your sorrow for your sins.


  • Finally, the priest , acting in the person of Christ, will absolve you of your sins through the Prayer of Absolution.

At the end of his absolution he will say, “I absolve you of your sins in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. ”

  • Make the sign of the cross and respond "Amen".


  • He will then dismiss you by saying some variation of “Go in peace. ”  Reply, “Thanks be to God”.

As soon as possible, complete your penance and rejoice in the fact that your sins have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus Christ. 



John 20:19

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

John 20:22-23
22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. ”