We come to the Sacrament of Penance when we recognize our sinfulness and with the desire to turn to God, we ask for God's forgiveness.
We begin by preparing to receive the sacrament. We reflect on our lives, sometimes in the light of the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes, perhaps using a passage from scripture, to focus our thinking.
The rite of reconciliation consists of several steps: The priest welcomes you and both of you make the sign of the cross. You tell the priest something about yourself, especially if you are not known to the priest - whether you are married or single, the times since your last reconciliation, whatever will help the priest to guide you. Then you or the priest may read a short passage from scripture - this is optional. You confess your sins. The priest may offer some advice and give you a penance. He may ask you to suggest a penance. You pray the prayer of penance or carry out the penance after the sacrament. You then pray a prayer of sorrow. In this prayer you express your sorrow, express your resolve not to sin, and ask for God's forgiveness. You may use words of your own or you may use a prayer that the priest suggests. The priest extends his hand over your head and says the words of absolution. You answer "Amen." Finally the priest dismisses you with words such as, "The Lord has freed you from sin. May he bring you safely to his kingdom in heaven. Glory be to him forever." You can respond with full confidence: "Amen".