Hello and thanks for your time. In the Catholic church how does one go about repenting and confession? If a man is baptized and is truly born again, and is on fire for the lord for the next two years but backslides into sin for a week or two, how does that one repent? I know the bible says to confess your sins to God through Jesus, and confess your sins to other belivers. But in the relm of the Catholic Church how does one go about repenting the right way? Thank you so much.

Hi, Josh!

Thanks - these sounds like a very good and important questions that you ask.  I will try to answer as best I can in the realm of theology and actual religious practice...

In the Catholic Tradition (historical christianity)one is born from above (born again) at Baptism by water and the Holy Spirit.
The matter of backsliding into sin, and needing repentance at some later time is something common to all who are striving to grow in their spiritual life and relationship to God in Christ Jesus the Savior.  This points to the need for a Sacrament that restores the life and grace given at Baptism.  This Sacrament is called Confession, Penance, or Reconciliation...
In the Gospel of John Ch. 20, Jesus gives His Apostles the authority to hear confessions and impart God's forgiveness through Absolution.  In James Ch. 5, the Apostle refers to the practice of one confessing his sins the one to the other, in the context of that chapter, the one who is sick and being visited by a Priest, to confess his sins to the visiting Priest.
The great thing about Confession is God's wonderful, merciful and healing forgiveness being imparted to somebody who is repenting and asking forgiveness... It is by analogous concept like another Baptism into God's Grace, refreshed and restored.
In the realm of the Catholic Church, as you ask, one goes about repenting the right way in the following manner:
1. First, he recognizes that he has sinned and broken God's Commandment(s) in some way
2. He prayes to the Holy Spirit to help him know his sins in God's light so that he can turn away from his sins and begin the process of penance and conversion.
3. The person does an examination of conscience, sizing up what his sins are, and how many times he has committed each one.
4. Then he asks God to help him find where confessions are being heard, and the grace to be able to go and make a good confession to a Priest.
5. Then he presents himself humbly in the confessional, follows the rite of confession that the Priest can help guide him through, and confesses his sins by type and number to the best of his ability.
6. A penance is assigned, the one confessing prays an act of contrition in which he expresses his sorrow for his sins with his trust and confidence in God's love and mercy.
7. Then the Priest imparts the Absolution by the authority that Jesus gave to the Apostles and their successors (Bishops & Priests), and by the ministry of the Church, and both declares and imparts the forgiveness of Jesus.
8. The one making the confession needs to have a firm resolution to avoid these sins again, especially really bad sins, and ask God for the help and grace to do so.
I hope this was practical and helpful to you...
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) has a wonderful section on the Sacrament of Forgiveness, otherwise known as Confession, Penance, or Reconciliation.

Fr. Timothy Johnson


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