Whoever you are, Christian reader, that designs to approach the holy Sacrament of Penance, remember that you are going to undertake a work on the good performance of which, more than any other duty, your eternal welfare depends.
Therefore, retire apart from every external source of distraction, place yourself in the presence of God, and humbly adore Him. Represent to yourself that this may be the last confession you will ever have the opportunity of making. Let this reflection induce you to discharge every part of your duty, both as to the examination of your conscience, your sorrow for your sins, your firm purpose of amending your life, and the sincerity of your confession, in the most perfect manner possible. Begin by imploring the light and grace of almighty God, who alone can discover to you the malice of your sins, and give you true repentence. For this end you may pray as follows:
Supreme and adorable majesty, God of heaven and earth, I firmly believe that Thou art present, and that Thou seest me and knowest the disposition of my heart. I adore Thee, and render Thee my humble homage, acknowledging thee for my God, my Creator, and my Sovereign Redeemer. In testimony of this, my faith, I prostrate my soul and body before the throne of Thine infinite majesty, and offer Thee adoration which is due Thee alone. O Father of lights, who enlightenest every man that cometh into the world, send into my heart a ray of light, of love, and of sorrow, that I may know, detest, and confess the sins which I have committed against Thee! I desire to see my sins in all their enormity, and just as they are in Thy sight, I wish to detest them for the love of Thee, and to confess them with the same sincerity as I should be glad to do at the moment of my death. But, my God, this knowledge of my sins, and these dispositions of sorrow for them, and sincerity in declaring them to Thy minister, can come only from the hand of Thy bounty. Since, then, in Thy desire that the sinner should not die, Thou didst send Thy Son into the world to purchase his forgiveness, I implore this grace through the merits of Jesus Christ, who died upon the cross of my sins, and who is now sitting at Thy right hand, where He continually shows Thee in my behalf the wounds which he endured for me.
Mother of my God, who art so charitable to sinners that desire to repent, assist me by thine intercession. My holy angel, who hast been a spectator of all my crimes, help me to discover the sins which I have committed against my God. My blessed patron and all ye saints of heaven, pray for me, that I may bring forth fruits of penance. Amen.
OFFERING OF THE EXAMINATION
Jesus, my God and Saviour, I offer Thee the examination which I am going to make, that Thy divine justice may be glorified in it. I look to Thee with confidence for the grace to do it well. Thus, therefore, in the spirit of charity, in order to please Thee, and to accomplish Thy holy will, together with every intention that can procure Thee the greatest honor and glory, I undertake it.
AN ACT OF CONTRITION
O Lord Jesus, lover of our souls, who, for the great love wherewith Thou hast loved us, willed not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live, I grieve from the bottom of my heart that I have offended Thee, my most loving Father and Redeemer, unto whom all sin is infinitely displeasing, who hast so loved me that Thou didst shed Thy blood for me, and endured the bitter torments of a most cruel death. O my God! O infinite Goodness! would that I never offended Thee! Pardon me, O Lord Jesus, most humbly imploring Thy mercy. Have pity upon a sinner for whom Thy blood pleds before the face of the Father.
O merciful and forgiving Lord, for the love of Thee, I forgive all who have ever offended me. I firmly resolve to forsake and flee from all sins, and to avoid the occasions of them: and to confess, in bitterness of spirit, all those sins which I have committed against Thy divine goodness, and to love Thee, O my God, for Thine own sake, above all things and for ever. Grant me grace so to do, O most gracious Lord Jesus!
A PRAYER AFTER CONFESSION
What thanks do I not owe to Thee, my God, not only for having created me, redeemed me, and called me to the bosom of Thy Church, but still more for having waited for my return, whilst I was wandering from Thee in the miserable paths of sin, for having so often pardoned me as I hope thou hast done this day, and for having preserved me from so many other sins, into which I should have fallen had I not been prevented by Thy gracious hand. But my enemies will not cease to tempt until death, and if Thou support me not, alas! I shall soon begin again to offend Thee more grievously than ever. Grant me, then, through the merits of Jesus Christ, the precious grace of final perseverance. This divine Saviour has assured me that whatever we ask in His name Thou wilt grant to us. I entreat Thee therefore, through all that Thy dear Son has suffered for me, never to let me forsake Thee any more. I feel the greatest confidence that, if I continue to pray for His grace, I shall obtain it, because Thou hast promised to hear our prayers. But I tremble with fear lest, in some unguarded moment, I should forget my dependence on Thee, fail to involke Thy help, and thus relapse into my former misery. Grant therefore that, under all my temptations, I may have instant recourse to Thee, by invoking the holy names of Jesus and Mary. Thus, O my God, I may confidently hope to die in Thy grace, and to love Thee for ever in heaven, where I shall be sure never to be separated from Thee, and to be consumed in the fire of Thy holy love for all eternity. Amen.
From: The New Marian Missal for Daily Mass by Sylvester P. Juergens, S.M., Doctor of Sacred Theology, Regina Press, New York, Imprimatur C. Eykens, vic. gen., Antverpiae, 24 Februarii 1963