Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1422)

In the Gospel of John chapter 20 Jesus says to his disciples after his resurrection “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” As Jesus gave the power to his disciples to forgive the first Christians, priests are given this power to forgive Christians in our times.

Sin hurts our relationship with God, it hurts others, and it hurts ourselves. Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing where, by God’s grace, we receive forgiveness of our sins and are made clean. This gift is to encourage us to live holy and loving lives.

We should ask for the grace to know our sins so that we can confess them, be forgiven of them, and pray for the grace to avoid those sins in the future. You can find a good examination of conscious here:

You should know an Act of Contrition:

Requirements for a Good Confession

  • The penitent must have contrition (i.e. sorrow) for their sins. This attitude ought to be one where the penitent desires that he/she had never done the sin and he/she will make a deliberate effort to avoid that sin in the future.
  • The penitent must at least confess all known mortal sins.
  • The penitent must do the penance that the priest gives him/her to do.