About the Sacrament
"But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins he then said to the paralytic, 'Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.' He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings" ~Matthew 9:6-8.
Jesus Christ had the authority to forgive sins on earth and he gave this authority to his apostles when he said "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." "And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them receive the Holy Spirit whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained" (John 20:21-23.) "Only priests who have received the faculty of absolving from the authority of the Church can forgive sins in the name of Christ" (CCC 1495).
"The whole power of the sacrament of Reconciliation consists in restoring us to God's grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship." (Roman Catechism) " Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament" (CCC 1468)
In order to make a good confession an Examination of Conscience is helpful in bringing to mind the times we have sinned against God. Begin with an opening prayer such as: Lord, hear my prayer as I examine my conscience, asking for your merciful help. I know that you desire to forgive me for I am helpless to save myself. May I always remember the goodness you want to see in me in imitation of Your Son Who died to save me from my sins. Amen. We can examine our conscience in light of the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and the 7 capital sins which are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth.
Preparation for First Reconciliation is done in conjunction with preparation for First Communion.
"The sacrament of Penance is a whole consisting in three actions of the penitent and the priest's absolution. The penitent's acts are repentance, confession or disclosure of sins to the priest, and the intention to make reparation and do works of reparation" (CCC 1491).
"One who desires to obtain reconciliation with God and with the Church, must confess to a priest all the unconfessed grave sins he or she remembers after having carefully examined their conscience. The confession of venial faults, without being necessary in itself, is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church" (CCC 1493).
"The priest is the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner. He gives absolution and proposes the performance of certain acts of penance to be performed by the penitent in order to repair the harm caused by sin and to re-establish habit befitting a disciple of God" (CCC 1494)
The Sacrament of Reconciliation can be a fearful experience for Catholics, especially if one has not been to confession in many years or has committed grave sin. The beauty of this sacrament is that God is always willing to welcome us back into his grace and protection. Satan wants us to hide our sin so we will not be free from them. But there is no sin that cannot be forgiven.