Before you receive the sacrament, prepare your mind and heart by spending time in the presence of God in prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you celebrate the sacrament well, and for the light to make an honest examination of conscience.
Here are a few samples examinations for those in different states in life:
Once you have made your examination, pray for the grace of a good confession. Your prayer can be as simple as the Publican's prayer in the temple, "Oh God, be merciful to me a sinner." (Luke 18:13)
Here is another prayer for the grace of a good confession:
Come Holy Spirit into my soul. Enlighten my mind that I may know the sins I ought to confess, and grant me Your grace to confess them fully, humbly and with contrite heart. Help me to firmly resolve not to commit them again.O Blessed Virgin, Mother of my Redeemer, mirror of innocence and sanctity, and refuge of penitent sinners, intercede for me through the Passion of Your Son, that I may obtain the grace to make a good confession.
All you blessed Angels and Saints of God, pray for me, a most miserable sinner, that I may repent from my evil ways, that my heart may henceforth be forever united with yours in eternal love.
Pope Urges Faithful to Go to Confession
Archbishop Fulton Sheen
The Sacrament of Confession
Confession is an act of honesty and courage - an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God.
- Blessed John Paul II
Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin, all hope consists in confession; in confession there is a chance for mercy.
- St. Isidore of Seville
How happy I am to see myself imperfect and be in need of God's mercy.
--St Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, OCD
I appeal to you, my brethren, you who are not ashamed to sin and yet are ashamed to confess. I beseech you, cease to hide your wounded conscience. Sick people who are prudent do not fear the physician, though he cut and burn even the secret parts of the body. - St. Pacian (d. 391)
Do you want to become saints? Here is the secret: confession is the lock; confidence in your confessor is the key. This is how you open heaven’s gates.
- St. John Bosco
My children, as soon as ever you have a little spot upon your soul, you must do like a person who has a fine globe of glass, which he keeps very carefully. If this globe has a little dust on it, he wipes it with a sponge the moment he perceives it, and there is the globe clear and brilliant. In the same way, as soon as you perceive a little stain on your soul, take some holy water with respect, do one of those good works to which the remission of venial sins is attached -an alms, a genuflection to the Blessed Sacrament, hearing a Mass. My children, it is like a person who has a slight illness; he need not go and see a doctor, he may cure himself without. If he has a headache, he need only go to bed; if he is hungry, he has only to eat. But if it is a serious illness, if it is a dangerous wound, he must have the doctor; after the doctor come the remedies. In the same way, when we have fallen into any grievous sin, we must have recourse to the doctor, that is the priest; and to the remedy, that is confession.
- St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars
Go to your confessor; open your heart to him; display to him all the recesses of your soul; take the advice that he will give you with the utmost humility and simplicity. For God, Who has an infinite love for obedience, frequently renders profitable the counsels we take from others, but especially from those who are the guides of our souls.
- St. Francis de Sales