Baltimore Catechism 3

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How To Make a Good Confession


 * Q. 426. Before entering the confessional, how should we prepare ourselves for a good confession?
A. Before entering the confessional, we should prepare ourselves for a good confession by taking sufficient time not only to examine our conscience but, especially, to excite in our hearts sincere sorrow for our sins and a firm purpose not to commit them again.


 * Respect for the sacrament of Penance requires serious preparation for its reception. Reverence in church, a careful examination of conscience, exciting sincere sorrow for our sins, and patience in awaiting one's turn to approach the confessional, are marks of respect for the sacrament.


 * Q. 427. How should we begin our confession?
A. We should begin our confession in this manner: Entering the confessional, we kneel, and making the sign of the cross we say to the priest: "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned;" and then we tell how long it has been since our last confession.


 * Q. 428. After telling the time of our last confession, what do we confess?
A. After telling the time of our last confession, if we have committed any mortal sins since that time, we must confess them and also any that we have forgotten in previous confessions, telling the nature and number of each; we may also confess any venial sins we wish to mention.


 * In the confessional it is necessary to speak distinctly and loud enough to be heard by the priest, but not so loud that other persons standing or kneeling near the confessional can hear.

 * A person should not attempt to offer excuses for himself; but he should mention those conditions or circumstances that increase or decrease his guilt.

 * It is not necessary to mention acts that are not sins. It is not necessary, for example, to mention that one has eaten meat on a day of abstinence unless it was eaten deliberately with the knowledge that it was a day of abstinence. Nor is it necessary to mention that one has missed Mass on Sunday if one was seriously ill and could not go to Mass.

 * Other persons should not be mentioned in confession unless it is necessary to indicate the species of sin. The faults or sins of others should not be mentioned. When it is necessary to refer to others in confession, their names must never be mentioned.


 * Q. 429. What should we do if we cannot remember the exact number of our mortal sins?
A. If we cannot remember the exact number of our mortal sins, we should tell the number as nearly as possible, or say how often we have committed the sins in a day, a week, a month, or a year.


 * If we discover, after confession, that we have unintentionally accused ourselves of more sins than were committed, there is no need to make any further mention of it.

 * If we discover, after confession, that we unintentionally omitted some mortal sins, or failed to state the exact species, or mentioned a smaller number than were actually committed, we must mention the fact in our next confession.


 * Q. 430. What should we do when we have committed no mortal sin since our last confession?
A. When we have committed no mortal sin since our last confession, we should confess our venial sins or some sin told in a previous confession, for which we are again sorry, in order that the priest may give us absolution.


 * Even though we have already confessed a sin of our past life in a previous confession, we can again be sincerely sorry for it, especially if it is a mortal sin. This sincere sorrow is sufficient to enable the priest to give us absolution even if we confess only slight sins for which we do not have sufficient sorrow.

 * > "Remember not the sins of my youth nor my offenses. According to thy mercy remember thou me, for thy goodness' sake, O Lord" (Psalm 24:7).


 * Q. 431. How should we end our confession?
A. We should end our confession by saying: "I am sorry for these and all the sins of my past life, especially for ..." Then it is well to tell one or several of the sins we have previously confessed and for which we are particularly sorry.


 * A general confession is one in which all sins told in previous confessions, either of our whole life or of a part of our life, are repeated.

 * Sometimes it is necessary to make a general confession. If a person has made a bad confession, or several of them, he must repeat all mortal sins committed since his last good confession, even though he has told them in previous confessions.

 * Sometimes it is advisable to make a general confession, for example, when a person is about to enter a different state of life, such as the married state, or the priesthood, or the religious life. A person should consult his confessor before making a general confession.


 * Q. 432. What should we do after confessing our sins?
A. After confessing our sins, we should answer truthfully any question the priest asks, seek advice if we feel that we need any, listen carefully to the spiritual instruction and counsel of the priest, and accept the penance he gives us.


 * If, for some reason, it would be impossible or too difficult for us to perform the penance given by the priest, we should ask him to give us some other penance. If there is any matter of a spiritual nature that is bothering us, we should not hesitate to ask the priest for his advice.


 * Q. 433. What should we do when the priest is giving us absolution?
A. When the priest is giving us absolution, we should say from our heart the act of contrition in a tone to be heard by him.


 * contains all the requisites of an act of perfect contrition.


 * Q. 434. What should we do after leaving the confessional?
A. After leaving the confessional we should return thanks to God for the sacrament we have received, beg Our Lord to supply for the imperfections of our confession, and promptly and devoutly perform our penance.


 * is a model prayer of thanksgiving.




 * Well-bred persons are most exact in observing the rules of politeness. When they are in the company of others, they are always careful to act according to the customs approved by society. Catholics too have certain rules of politeness which they are expected to observe in the performance of religious functions. However, there is a great difference between these rules and those adopted by people of the world. For the sole object of the courtesies of the world is to please human beings, while the purpose of the acts of politeness we practice in performing our religious duties is to please God. Whenever we take part in any function of the Church- whether it be assistance at Mass, the reception of the sacraments, or participation in a procession or a special devotion-we should remember that we are in the presence of the King of kings, to do homage to Him. This thought should inspire us to be most observant of all the rules of deportment the particular function imposes on us.

 * There is no occasion better suited for testing our Catholic courtesy than the reception of the sacrament of Penance. Sad to say, there are some Catholics who show a great lack of respect and seriousness in the reception of this sublime sacrament. They walk into church, gazing around as if it were a theater. Instead of a reverent genuflection, they make a slight inclination and slouch into a pew. A minute or two suffices for preparation; then they approach the confessional, perhaps forcing their way ahead of others who had the first right. They make their confession in a careless, slipshod way, rendering if necessary for the priest to put a number of questions regarding the nature and number of their sins. The act of contrition is hastily mumbled; when they leave the confessional, they say their penance as fast as possible and hasten from the church. Strange to say, many of these persons are most careful in obeying the rules of politeness when they are at some social function in a parlor or dining-room; but in the house of God, they are ill-mannered and disrespectful.

 * The well-mannered Catholic shows from the moment he enters the church that he realizes he is in the presence of Our Divine Saviour. His genuflection is performed properly, the knee touching the Floor. His preparation for confession is careful and exact, without being scrupulous. He makes a fervent act of contrition, and waits his turn to enter the confessional. He confesses his sins exactly and sincerely but without unnecessary details. The confessor has no difficulty with his confession; he gives him some advice, which is attentively received, and imparts absolution while the penitent humbly and fervently repeats his act of contrition. On leaving the confessional he not only recites his penance but also spends some time in thanking God for having received the pardon of his sins and in begging strength to avoid sin in future. Such a Catholic is conscious that in approaching the confessional he is really kneeling before Our Lord Himself to hear from His lips the words: "Thy sins are forgiven."

 * It may happen that after confession a person will forget what penance he has received. In that event he should return to the confessor and ask him to repeat it, if he can do so without much inconvenience. If, however, he would have to wait a considerable length of time or suffer some other grave inconvenience before he could again get to the confessor, he can consider himself free from the penance, though it would be advisable for him to say some prayers in satisfaction for his debt of temporal punishment.




 * Resolve that in going to confession you will carefully observe all the points brought out in this lesson.

 * Complete Exercises For Lesson 32





 * (Join correctly the parts of the sentences in Columns I and II, by placing the right key letter in the proper parenthesis.)


 * Column I


 * To await one's turn patiently in approaching the confessional (...).

 * Other persons should not be mentioned in our confession (...).

 * If a person unintentionally confesses more sins than he actually committed (...).

 * If a person unintentionally confesses a smaller number of sins than he actually committed (...).

 * If a person has made a bad confession or several of them (...).

 * If a person is about to enter a new state of life (...).

 * It is advisable (...).

 * If a person thinks it too difficult to perform the penance imposed on him (...).

 * If a penitent has difficulties of a spiritual nature (...).

 * If a person cannot remember the exact number of his sins (...).


 * Column II


 * There is no need to make any further mention of the matter.

 * To perform our penance promptly after confession.

 * He should tell the number as nearly as possible.

 * He should seek advice from the confessor.

 * He should ask the priest for another penance.

 * He must make known the fact in his next confession.

 * A general confession is necessary.

 * A general confession is advisable.

 * Is a mark of respect for the sacrament of Penance?

 * Unless this is necessary to indicate the nature of a sin.



 * (Answer the questions orally or write them as your teacher may direct);


 * Justin, 12 years old, is playing in front of the church. Suddenly, he gets the bright idea to go to confession. He hasn't been there for more than three months. Discontinuing the play, he enters the church hurriedly, and out of breath, genuflects quickly, and goes straight into the confessional. What do you think about Justin's preparation for confession?

 * Thecla has recovered from a serious heart ailment. She goes to confession after an absence of five weeks. While a patient in the Jewish hospital she missed Mass on four Sundays. Among her sins she accuses herself of missing Mass. What have you to say concerning her confession?

 * Wallace, a careless Catholic, attending public school, has been away from the sacraments for nine months. He is making the confession for his Easter Duty Communion. In telling his sins he accuses himself this way: "I missed Mass lots of times; I ate meat on Friday many times etc." Point out the serious defect in Wallace's manner of confessing.

 * Pearl is worried about the confession she made three days ago. She told the priest she stole two expensive rings and a valuable necklace; but she forgot to mention that she missed her Easter Duty. Is the sin of missing Easter Duty still on her soul? Explain your reply.

 * Louis, who formerly was a very careless Catholic, is now changed for the better. He is somewhat upset on discovering that he did not tell the exact truth in his last confession. He confessed that he missed Mass twelve times; but it was only ten times. Advise him how to act.

 * Annabelle is earnestly striving to be a saint. At her weekly confession she can't find any sin of the past week to confess. The nearest thing to sin that she remembers is that she spoke in church to an old man who asked her a question. So she confesses: "I spoke in church once. That's all, Father." Did she commit a sin in answering the old man? What do you suggest that penitents add to their confession when they have no new sins to tell, or only imperfections? Why?

 * Vincent is about to enter an order of teaching brothers. He is making his confession before taking the habit. Must he make a general confession, or is a general confession only advisable.

 * Next Saturday, Hedwig is going to be married to Innocent at a Nuptial Mass. Friday night both of them are going to confession. What kind of a confession do you advise them to make, their regular monthly confession, or a general confession? Why?

 * Lester is a very nervous lad of fourteen. The thought of going to confession tortures him, yet he goes two or three times a week just the same. Nearly everything he thinks, says and does he considers as sinful. He goes from church to church, from priest to priest, seeking peace of mind. Most of the priests will not allow him to make a general confession. How can Lester get over this nervousness? Should he make general confessions? Give a reason for your answer.

 * After every confession, Hilda, 11 years of age, goes directly to the Communion railing, and there before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament she recites her penance. Then she tells Our Lord how thankful she is for His kindness and forgiveness. Before leaving the church, Hilda kneels before the image of Our Lady, asking her to help Hilda stay good. Tell us what you think of Hilda's custom after confession.

 * Seumas had to confess a long list of mortal sins. He thinks the priest has given him too difficult a penance-the Stations of the Cross every day for a month. Afterwards, Seumas takes matters in his own hands and changes the penance to one decade of the Rosary each day for that month. Is Seumas allowed to do that? Explain your answer.

 * Sinon thinks the priest gave him a penance of only three Hail Marys. But he isn't sure. A large number of penitents are awaiting their turn to go to confession. Sinon must hurry home to run an important errand for his mother. So he decides to say 5 Our Fathers and 5 Hail Marys as his penance. What have you to say about his decision?


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