We (Una Voce Atlanta) published the below article originally while Summorum Pontificum was in force to assist new Latin Mass locations in our state with how different Traditional Confessions are in comparison with novus ordo confessions. Due to the recent explosion of interest in traditional confessions in our Archdiocese, the article is reposted below for our new members of Una Voce Atlanta. This article is the most popular of all articles Una Voce has on this web site.
CONSIDERATIONS ON TRADITIONAL CONFESSION
The penitent enters the confessional and says, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned.” The penitent makes the Sign of the Cross while the priest says, “The Lord be in Thy heart and on thy lips, that thou mayest rightly confess thy sins. In the name of the Father †, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The penitent tells the priest his state in life and how long it has been since his last Confession, then recites the number and kind of his sins. The penitent concludes with a statement to the effect of, “For these and all my other sins, which I cannot presently remember, I am heartily sorry.” (Or similar words) The priest may ask some questions and give some advice. The priest will assign a penance.
The priest then says: “Misereátur tui omnípotens Deus, et dimíssis peccátis tuis, perdúcat te ad vitam ætérnam. Amen.” (In English: “May almighty God have mercy on thee, and forgive thee all thy sins, and bring thee to life everlasting. Amen.”) Holding his right hand over the penitent, the priest says: “Indulgéntiam, absolutiónem, et remissiónem peccatórum tuórum tríbuat tibi omnípotens et miséricors Dóminus. Amen.” (In English: “May the Almighty and merciful God grant thee indulgence, absolution, and remission of all thy sins. Amen.”) Still holding his right hand over the penitent, the priest removes any impediments to the validity of the absolution he is about to give: “Dóminus noster Jesus Christus te absólvat; et ego auctoritáte ipsíus te absólvo ab omni vínculo excommunicatiónis, (suspensiónis,) et interdícti, in quantum possum et tu índiges.” If the penitent is a layman, the word “suspensiónis” is omitted. (The English translation: “May our Lord Jesus Christ absolve thee; and by His authority I absolve thee from every bond of excommunication, (suspension,) and interdict, in proportion to my power and thy need.) The priest recites the words of absolution while both the priest and the penitent make the Sign of the Cross. (In English: “Thereupon, I absolve thee from thy sins, in the name of the Father †, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”) Finally, the priest says a prayer for the remission of temporal punishment due for sins: “Passio Dómini nostri Jesu Christi, mérita Beátæ Maríæ Vírginis, et ómnium Sanctórum, quidquid boni féceris, et mali sustinúeris, sint tibi in remissiónem peccatórum, augméntum grátiæ et præmium vitæ ætérnæ. Amen.” (In English: “May the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of all the saints, whatever good you shall have done, and evil you shall have endured, be to you unto remission of sins, increase of grace, and reward of eternal life. Amen.”)
Note that the traditional Form of the Sacrament does not require the penitent to make an Act of Contrition. The priest does retain the option to request this, a sensible and laudable custom, prior to giving absolution. It seems that most of the priests using the older rite of confession are indeed asking penitents to say the act of contrition, so you will most likely be asked to say it. Usually while you are saying the act of contrition the priest will give absolution at the same time so he will be talking in Latin while you are saying the act of contrition.
When confession is over the priest will say " Go in peace your sins are forgiven" You thank the priest and leave. Also note that canonically, a priest does not have the right to remove every kind of bond of excommunication. That is reserved to the diocesan Ordinary (bishop). Therefore, the prayer is careful to say, “in proportion to my power”. A priest must refrain from absolving difficult cases and refer the matter to a bishop. Please note that in the Atlanta Archdiocese (and probably Savannah as well) the bishop has granted priests the power to absolve from the excommunication of abortion.)
The concluding prayer for remission of temporal punishment is a beautiful and appropriate follow-up to absolution and is unique to the Extraordinary Form. Once you leave the confessional you will kneel in church and perform your penance. Remember to also try and obtain indulgences to wash away the temporal punishment due to sins. One thing that often occurs where the Latin mass is started is that people return to the Church after 20-30 years of absence, so it is very important to get these people to confession. If they mention that they don't remember how to go to confession, simply tell them to go in the confessional and say, " Father I haven't been to confession in 20 years and I don't remember what to do" The priest will talk them through it. Also let them know that priests are highly honored when they can hear a confession and bring a person back into the Church after such a long time.