what are the proper things to say in confession?

Yeah, I’m a cradle catholic, 25 and I still don’t know the answer to this question and I’m too embarassed to ask a priest.
I avoided confession for about 15 years. I went a couple of times and funbled my way through it. last year, I made my first, ever, REAL confession. I’ve been to confession a couple of times sense and the priest has let me get away with fumbling my way through because I told him that I hadn’t been in so long and was nervous and all that. well, now that I am maturing in my faith (at long last) I want to do things properly. I know it goes something sort of like this,

“bless me father, for I have sinned. it’s been (fill in the blank) since my last confession”. then do I just start rolling off my sins? Is there something else I’m supposed to say before I start confessing? how do I let the priest know that I’m all finished? do I say, “that’s all.” or what? I know this is sort of a wierd question and I know that what’s in my heart is more important than what’s in my mouth, but now that I’ve gotten over my fear of confession, I would like to do it properly. Also, I’m not quite sure how the act of contrition goes. I know it says something like, “dearl lord, I’m sorry for having offended thee (something about fearing the loss of heaven) and I promice to repent and do pennance” or something like that. how does it actually go? I am planning on going to confession this evening and I want to do it properly.

This is a different question, but on the same subject. my husband is not catholic. but if we both sinned together and I feel that I need to confess, what can he do? he’s a Christian. should we just pray together after I go to confession? can I pray for him in confession since he’s my husband? how does that work? any advice?
thanks :slight_smile:

I notice that you say “Bless me Father for I have sinned”.
I was always taught to say “Forgive me Father for I have sinned” and this is also in a book I have called How To Make A Good Confession.
It seems odd to me to ask to be blessed for sinning but I’ve heard before of people saying that too.
What do other posters say?

start off by saying "forgive me father for i have sinned its been blank before my last confession. i have…say your most serious sins first and say how many times you did each of the sins, this i learned from Fr.Corapi.

as far as the act of contrtion you can look it up online. a priest once told me use your own words. this is what i say"O my God I am heartly sorry for offending thee, in failing to do good and choosing to do wrong i have sinned against thee, my Lord, who is all deserving of all my love. i firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin"

i had the same problem as you once, i went to confession for a couple of years before i finally said “i have to learn this already”

as far as your husband i’m not too sure about. good luck

When one asks the priest for a blessing it has nothing to do with his sins…he is simply asking for the priest’s blessing.

Since finding this forum, I think perhaps my form for confession is a bit off. I was never taught to say “forgive or bless me father for I have sinned.” I was told to say how long it has been since my last confession and then to mention the major things I have done wrong. I was also taught not to go in with a “shopping list” but to confess my sins generally. For the act of contrition, I always forget it so I make up my own. I’ve never been told this is a problem. Some confessionals I have been in have the Act of Contrition taped to the wall or on a desk so you can read it. I’m interested to read the responses to this thread since, as I said before, I am not sure if I am going about confession properly.

What I would like to know is which is the correct way to start: Bless me Father or Forgive me Father?

<<What I would like to know is which is the correct way to start: Bless me Father or Forgive me Father?>>

I suppose either way is correct, since you mentioned that was suggested in something you read.

I was taught, as a child, to say “Bless me Father…”

Actually, he is going to forgive you at the end of your confession.

I was taught to say ‘Bless me Father for I have sinned’ - this is also what our diocese teaches our kids to say in 2nd grade. This is a good ‘ice-breaker’ - but there really doesn’t have to be a formula. There are things about my parish that need work, but one thing I really appreciate is our pastor during face to face Reconciliation. He knows that people may have trouble getting started, so after you sit down, he greets you, makes the sign of the cross with you, and then says ‘what would you like to confess today’ as a way to help you get started . Then you, can start with your sins, or still say ‘Bless me Father…’ if that’s what you need to get you stated. Either way is fine with him.

I would love to go to confession with Father Larry Richards one day. Apparently he gives you a choice on if you would like to confess your sins in your own words, or he will go down a list of questions for you and you can answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and elaborate if you need to. I heard this on his ‘Confession’ cd. I think that would be awesome because you would definitely not forget anything!

Here’s what to do before/during/after confession:


  1. Make an examination of conscience. First, think of all unconfessed mortal sins. These sins must be confessed by kind and (approximate) number for your confession to be valid. If you don’t know the exact number give an approximate (I missed Mass about a dozen times) or estimate it over a period of time (I’ve missed Mass about once a month for the past year). Also, confess all grave sins in this manner. After this, it is highly recommended that you confess your venial sins (especially ones that you are struggling with). An examination on conscience such as the one below might help:

  2. Be sorry for your sins. Your goal should be perfect contrition (I’m sorry for sinning against God who is all good) but you should at least have imperfect contrition (I’m sorry because I don’t want to go to hell). You can’t really “will” your emotions so don’t get upset if you can’t feel sorry. Be sorry and don’t worry about your feelings.

  3. Have a firm purpose of amendment. You need this for your confession to be valid. For example, you can’t say you’re sorry for using artificial birth control but be resolved to keep on using them after confession. You must at least want to stop the sin and be resolved to try to stop it. For example, if someone is addicted to masterbation but feels that they are weak and helpless against stopping it, their purpose of amendment would be valid as long as they were sorry for their sin and were going to try to stop it. Through the sacrament God will give them the grace to overcome their addiction. However they must be open to that grace with a firm purpose of amendment.

  4. After your examination of conscience, sorrow for your sins and firm purpose of amendment go to confesson.


  1. Make the Sign of the Cross to begin (the priest however may start off).

  2. Say “Bless me father for I have sinned. It has been ______ since my last confession and these are my sins:”

  3. If you have any mortal sin(s) that you forgot to confess last time begin there. Then list all unconfessed mortal sins by kind and (approximate) number first. Then list all grave sins in the same manner. Then list all venial sins (you don’t need to give a number unless you want to indicate how much you’re struggling with a particular venial sin) you wish to confess (as stated above try to at least confess the ones you are struggling with). After confessing your sins, if you have any situations in your life that you are dealing with you might want to bring them up (for example I’m having trouble with my spouse doing _____ and am unsure what to do.)

  4. When you are finished say “For these sins and all my sins I am sorry”.

  5. The priest should take over from here possibly giving you some advice on your struggles, prescribe a penance, have you say the Act of Contrition (although some priests obmit this) and then giving you absolution. The confession is valid without the Act of Contrition although you may wish to say it afterwards.

  6. At the end (after you are dismissed) you can say something such as “Thank you father”, or “Thanks be to God!”.


  1. Fullfill your penance as soon as possible.

  2. Thank God for his forgiveness and the grace given to you to help you sin no more through the sacrament of Penance.

  3. Don’t start looking back worrying whether or not you confessed everything. As long as you didn’t deliberately withhold any unconfessed mortal sins (and had a firm purpose of amendment) your absolution was valid and ALL YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN. If you happen to remember a mortal sin that you forgot to confess, bring it up in your next confession (although you are still in a state of sanctifying grace and free to receive the sacraments as long as you don’t committ a mortal sin). In other words, remembering an unconfessed mortal doesn’t plunge you back into a state of mortal sin. You just need to bring it up at your next confession.

  4. Go in peace and try to sin no more.

thanks for your elequent reply. I appricaite it :slight_smile:
anyone have any advice on what to do about my hubby? I don’t want to get into it, but we commited a sin together and he’s sorry also, but not catholic. should I just ask the priest for some advice?

Your priest may differ, but mine suggested as part of my penance to pray for my husband. I’d confessed to something that affects us both and that was his response.

A lot of the confessionals in my town have note cards that tell you to say “Bless me Father for I have sinned…”

One interesting note is that some of them say you should end Confession by saying “His mercy endeurs (sp) forever,” right after the Priest is done with absolution.

It sounds like a lot of these things to say before and after are suggestions, and help to make it less awkward. It doesn’t seem to be written in stone.

Exactly, except for what the priest says there is no exact formula.

Overall format should be similar to:

  1. Greeting showing intent for confession.
  2. Confessing sins and being sorry for them.
  3. Receiving a penance
  4. Some form of Act of Contrition.
  5. Receiving Absolution from the priest.

There can be a little variation in ordering, like item 4 can come before item 3. Some parts may be longer or shorter, like the priest may decide to talk awhile about one or more of your sins etc. but general format remains the same.

If someone is unsure of the process, just let the priest know it has been awhile, or you are unsure of the procedure and they will walk you through it.

There is no reason to be afraid of the process. Just go.

The exchange goes like this:

Priest: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.
You: His mercy endures forever.
Priest: The Lord has freed you from your sins. Go in peace.
You: Thank you, Father. (Or, as someone said earlier, I suppose “Thanks be to God” would work here as well.)

Some of the priests that I have encountered will prompt you for this; some skip it entirely.


I was taught ( as a 9 year old ) to make the sign of the cross first, tell the priest if you’re a boy or a girl ( I don’t think I’d do that anymore now ) , how old you were ( not gonna do that anymore either ) and how long it had been since last confession. Then recite the Ten Commandments and add your sins to whichever Commandment you had violated. That was in germany. I’ve been to confession a few times in the States now, always had a face to face confession which I prefered and just kind of stumbled through it, too. The priest always seemed happy with whatever I did, no form, no act of contrition attached. I don’t know. Now I’m back in Germany, I think they still do the confessionals, at least there’s one in our church. I don’t even dare go now, my kids are terrified ( since they have to speak German ). There is a penance service with confession afterwards in a couple of weeks, I think I need to go.
As to your hubby, when my hubby wasn’t Catholic yet, I kind of didn’t go to Church that much, and no confession either. I said prayers for him at night, though. When he was in RCIA, the catechists told him he could go to confession even if he’s not Catholic, I don’t know if that’s right. So, I’ll pray for you that you may find the right words
God bless

what is the proper things to say in confession

After preparing yourself for confession beforehand, state clearly and humbly your sins to the priest.

Do the best you can, and be at peace. If you have any questions ask the priest.

Have a blessed Holy Week!

I have a question along these lines… I went to confession today in preparation for Easter. I confessed my sins, listed to the Priest’s guidance, said the Act of Contrition… and really that was it. The Priest did not give absolution - it was like that was forgotten, and the conversation turned casual as I was leaving. I didn’t realize that we didn’t officially “finish up” until I was in my car. Admittedly, the Priest was probably in a hurry - right before Easter, there were many more people at Reconcilation and Mass was about to start. It wasn’t like there was any conversation that he would not absolve my sins or anything, just like it seemed overlooked. But maybe I’m wrong and this was intentional, and my confession is not valid. What do you think?

When I go, there is barely a breath between me saying the Act of Contrition and the priest giving Absolution. Sometimes I don’t remember absolution, with trying to remember advice and penance, etc, but I know it has always been there. If you are sure that you didn’t receive absolution and there were serious sins involved, I would either ask that priest or go to confession again. If it were just venial sins involved, they can be forgiven in other ways… Certainly if the priest meant to withhold absolution, he would have told you so.