Through the contrite the sinner is detached from sin to take possession of the past and separate from it. It is clear that this implies the knowledge of sin and after recognizing it as being rejected.
Examination of Conscience
It is the pain that brings the soul to support the examination of conscience, an act of reflection that allows first the memory to recover the past faults and then come to detest them. Yes to grief one must add the accusation of having acted against morality, against the true good, against justice and this conviction must arise from a righteous conscience.
Jesus instituted the Sacrament of confession or reconciliation to allow the sinner to offer the confessor all the elements to judge. For this it is necessary to confess all mortal sins and also, through diligent research in our intimate, those sins deemed venial that if repeated in large numbers have the ability to stop a spiritual journey. Only with this accusation, humility and sorrow you are assured of forgiveness through the infinite mercy of God.
The examination and the accusation are intimate needs suggested by the same nature. Moreover, the ancient scholars recommended an examination of conscience to those who were interested in their moral perfection. The need to manifest to others their own sin is a psychological necessity, many use the assistance of the psycho-therapist to pay to overcome their inner discomfort and silence their conscience. In times past and for some cases it was sufficient to practice the sacrament of confession regularly, led by an experienced spiritual father and was then free.
Even Judas Iscariot, after treason, felt the need to accuse himself publicly "I have sinned; I have betrayed the innocent blood." (Mt. 27, 4). These natural demands are gathered, elevated and transfigured in the sacrament of Penance, which is anything but an arbitrary imposition of a precept.
It is necessary to declare himself guilty of all mortal sins, but also of the occult ones which are sometimes unleashed by the disorderly desire or by those circumstances that have caused an immoral attitude. Not an ordinary confession, which is often very flawed, because there is little or no preparation and, consequently, lacks the contrite.
It happens many times the penitent has the tacit desire to return to sin, because he does not want to avoid the opportunity to sin and even wants to adopt the means necessary to amend life.
Moreover, others come out of sin, but they fail to free themselves from the constraint they have established with it. They have, in fact, made the purpose of not sinning anymore, but they maintain the wistful of depriving themselves of the sin's own. To better say, they renounced sin, but do not forget to turn with wistful in that direction.
Others abstain from sin for fear, but they would like to participate in transgression and they estimate fortunate those who enjoy the forbidden. They would, in truth, be able to sin without being damned. Well, sooner or later, they will be inflamed by the taste of sin.
However, to undertake the path of true conversion, not only should we abandon sin, but it is necessary to purify the heart from all the predilections that depend on sin, because, apart from the danger of relapsing, these wretched faults continually in the heart and its weigh in such a way as to prevent it from performing good works with diligence. In fact, the souls who have come out of the state of sin still have weaknesses and, if they do well, they lack ardor.
The confession was set up to give grace to those who lost it after baptism. It is a practice that is always present, although understood and practiced in different ways. The documents of the first centuries of Christianity speak of a penance to be practiced publicly after recognizing, always publicly, its own sin especially if it was public. However, authoritative scholars are convinced that the secret accusation was already in use at that time.
This hypothesis seems plausible and public penance was determined in the way and time by the bishop. He, who was the judge, had to know the blame for proportioning penance. At one time, it was instituted at least in the east, the charge of the priest Penitentiary, just to receive the accusation: according to the Greek historians this charge was instituted at the time of the (half century III), and perhaps even before. It can be considered that when St. Leo the Great, in 459 writes to the bishops of Campania that: the sins of conscience suffice that they are manifested only to priests in a secret confession, it did not happen nothing but only received a sanction a practice that now was universally.
The passage of Leo the great not only testifies the practice of secret confession, with a minister who usually was a priest.
May it therefore manifest your righteousness. I consider it right in fact that you fulfil your service to your superior, so that your employee fulfils it towards you. We were talking about the flesh, which is inferior to the spirit, subject to it; it is made to be tamed and regulated by him. You behave with it so that you obey and ration your food because you want it to be subject to you. Recognize who is greater; recognize who is superior, if you want the lower rightly to subside to you. It is nonsense if your flesh obeys you and you do not obey to your God. By itself you are condemned for the fact that it obeys you. To obey flesh is testifies against you.