Catholics are encouraged to participate in the Sacrament of Penance even if it has been some time since the last confession. Confession is not difficult, but it does require preparation. The forgiveness of sins involves four parts:
Contrition: A sincere sorrow for having offended God, and the most important act of the penitent. There can be no forgiveness of sin if we do not have a repentant heart.
Confession: Confronting our sins in a profound way to God by speaking about them—aloud—to the priest.
Penance: An important part of our healing is the “penance” the priest imposes in reparation for our sins.
Absolution: The priest speaks the words by which “God, the Father of Mercies” reconciles a sinner to Himself through the merits of the Cross.