Baltimore Catechism No. 4 (of 4)
I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and to all the saints, that I have sinned exceedingly, in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, to pray to the Lord our God for me.
May the Almighty God have mercy on me, forgive me my sins, and bring me to everlasting life. Amen.
May the Almighty and merciful Lord grant me pardon, absolution, and remission of all my sins. Amen.
This is another beautiful prayer. In it we can imagine that we are permitted to enter Heaven. What do we see there? God, the Blessed Virgin, the thousands of angels, the Apostles, all the saints, martyrs, confessors, doctors and virgins. They cease singing God's praises, as we enter, and fix their eyes upon us. Our guardian angel conducts us before the great throne of God, and we kneel down in the presence of the whole court of Heaven, to acknowledge our sins and faults, while all listen attentively. Touched by so sublime a sight and the thought of having offended a God of so much glory, we begin our accusation of ourselves. We fix our eyes first upon God, and say: "I confess," i.e., accuse myself, "to Almighty God." Then we look upon the rest of the blessed, and say: "to the Blessed Mary ever Virgin," etc. Thus we call the whole court of Heaven to be a witness of the fact that we "have sinned," not lightly, but "exceedingly," i.e., very greatly, and in three ways: "in thought," by thinking of things sinful and forbidden; "in word," by lies, curses, slanders, etc.; "in deed," by every bad action that we have committed; and each of us can say: I have done all this "through my fault," i.e., willingly and deliberately; and it was not a small fault, but an exceeding great fault, because God was helping me by His grace to overcome temptations and avoid bad thoughts, words, and actions, and I would not accept His help, but willingly did what was wrong. What am I to do, therefore? Will God pardon all these offenses if I alone ask Him, seeing that all the angels and saints know that I have thus offended Him? What shall I do? I will ask them to help me by their prayers, and to beg God's pardon for me. He may grant their prayers, especially those of the Blessed Mother and of the saints, when He would not grant mine. "Therefore I beseech the Blessed Mary ever Virgin," etc., "to pray to the Lord our God for me."
When we kneel down to say the Confiteor, if we could imagine what I have just described to take place, how well we should say it! With what attention, respect, and sorrow we should ask the prayers of the saints! When we say the Confiteor, and indeed any prayer, we say it in the presence of God, and of the whole court of Heaven, though we are not in Heaven and cannot see God. The angels and saints do hear us and will pray for us. When, therefore, you are saying the Confiteor, imagine that you see all I have described, and you will never say it badly.