How to Make a Good Confession: Contrition
A sincere sorrow for having offended God is the most important and essential part of Confession. It is a clear and decisive rejection of the sins committed, together with the resolution not to commit them again. Therefore upon this disposition of heart depends the fruit of Reconciliation. There is no forgiveness of sin if we do not have sorrow, that is, if we do not regret our sins, resolve not to repeat them, and turn back to God with sincerity. Sorrow must be in the heart, not merely on the lips. It must be extended to all our mortal sins without exception, accompanied by a sincere decision to take realistic and practical steps not to sin again. For this reason, those who are not really sorry for all their sins, and not ready or able to live in a situation free from sin, cannot reap the fruits of a sacramental Confession. How can those who divorced and civilly remarried, or living together as husband and wife after only a civil marriage, fulfill these conditions and benefit by Confession?
There are cases of some of our brothers and sisters who still form part of the Church and who live in a state of grave sin, even though there are no serious impediments preventing them from putting their family life in order. The situation is sad and painful. There are other situations which are particularly delicate and almost impossible to get out of. Nevertheless, none of these brothers and sisters should feel abandoned by the Church. Even though they are not in a disposition to approach sacramental Confession, they should have recourse to divine mercy in other ways - with sincere efforts to maintain contact with the Lord by attendance at Mass, frequent repetitions of the acts of faith, hope and charity. All these can prepare the way for full reconciliation in the hour that Providence alone knows (Reconciliation and Penance 34).
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