Catholic confession requires thee main steps: a self-examination of conscience, the rite of reconciliation and an act of contrition. Apart from the ritual requirements of the sacrament, a confession needs to be based in true repentance and resolution to abandon sin in the future.
The examination of conscience step begins by asking for God’s help. This process is intended to allow the confessant to review his life events since the previous confession, and account for all sins he has committed. The confessant should identify all sins to God and men alike, and make an honest and firm resolution not to sin again.
The rite of Reconciliation is carried out with a priest, as the priest has the ability to absolve the confessant of his sins in the name of God. After making the sign of the cross, the confessant begins by saying “bless me father, for I have sinned.” Also, the confessant should state when he last confessed.
During Reconciliation, the confessant should confess all of his sins to the priest. Since Reconciliation is intended to provide absolution based on complete repentance and renunciation of sins, a confession in which the confessant purposely fails to state all his sins is invalid. After stating all his sins, the confessant states “I am sorry for these and all of my sins.”
The priest then assigns the confessant a penance, which usually consists of the recitation of certain prayers. To seal the confession, the confessant then recites the Act of Contrition, after which the priest absolves the confessant from his sins.