An Examination of Conscience for Adults
compiled by Carol Heath
used with permission
What is the Sacrament of Penance?
Penance is a sacrament in which the sins committed after Baptism are forgiven.
What is Confession?
Confession is the telling our sins to a duly authorized Priest for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness.
Why should we go to Confession frequently?
Frequent Confession greatly helps us to overcome temptations, to keep in the state of grace and to grow in virtue.
What is necessary to make a good Confession?
Five things are necessary for a good confession.
1. Examination of Conscience. We should make an earnest effort to call to mind all the sins since our last worthy Confession.
2. Sorrow for our sins. We should have sorrow for our sins because sin is the greatest of all evils, gravely offends God and because mortal sin shuts us out of heaven and condemns us to the eternal pains of hell.
3. Firm resolution never to offend God again. We must resolve not only to avoid sin but also the persons, places and things that may easily lead us into sin.
4. Confess our sins to a Priest. We must tell all our mortal sins to a priest, their kind and the number of times we have committed each one.
5. Say the penance which the Priest gives to us. The priest gives us a penance that we may make some atonement to God for our sins, receive help to avoid them in the future and make some satisfaction for the temporal punishment due to them.
To Make a Good Confession
(Examination of Conscience)
Many of these sins are mortal and the Eucharist is forbidden until a good confession is made. If in doubt whether a sin is mortal or venial, consult a good catechism or traditional priest. A mortal sin involves a serious matter, sufficient reflection, and is committed with full consent of the will.
- Did I deny or doubt God's existence? Did I refuse to believe God's revelation?
- Did I believe in horoscopes, fortune telling, dreams, good luck charms or reincarnation?
- Did I deny that I was a Catholic? Did I leave the Catholic faith?
- Did I despair of or presume on God's mercy?
- Did I neglect prayers for a long time? Did I fail to pray daily?
- Did I blaspheme God or take God's name in vain, curse or break an oath or vow?
- Did I miss Mass on Sunday or a Holyday of Obligation through my own fault?
- Am I always reverent in the presence of the most Blessed Sacrament?
- Was I inattentive at Mass? Did I come to Sunday Mass late? How late? Did I leave early?
- Did I do unnecessary servile work on Sunday?
- Did I disobey or show disrespect to my parent or legitimate superiors?
- Did I neglect my duties to my husband, wife, children or parents?
- Did I fail to actively take an interest in the religious education and formation of my children?
- Have I failed to educate myself on the true teachings of the Church?
- Did I give a full day's work in return for my full day's pay?
- Did I give scandal by what I said or did, especially to the young? Was I the cause of anyone leaving the faith?
- Did I give a fair wage to my employee?
- Was I impatient, angry, envious, unkind, proud, jealous, revengeful, hateful toward others, lazy?
- Did I give bad example, abuse drugs, drink alcohol to excess, fight or quarrel?
- Did I physically injure or kill anyone? Have I had an abortion or advised one? (Regarding abortion, check with priest in case there was automatic excommunication.)
- Did I participate in or approve of "mercy killing"? Did I attempt suicide?
- Did I willfully entertain impure thoughts and desires? Have I dressed immodestly?
- Did I use impure or suggestive words? Tell impure stories or listen to them?
- Did I deliberately watch impure TV, plays, pictures or movies? Or deliberately read anything impure?
- Have I performed impure actions by myself or with others? Which ones?
- NOTE: In the area of deliberate sexual sins, all are mortal if there is sufficient reflection and full consent of the will.
- Did I marry or advise another to marry outside the Church?
- Did I abuse my marriage rights? Have I been faithful to my marriage vows?
- Have I kept company with someone else's spouse?
- Did I practice artificial birth control or was I or my spouse sterilized?
- Did I steal, cheat, help or encourage others to steal, or keep stolen goods? Have I made restitution for stolen goods?
- Did I fulfill my contracts; give or accept bribes; pay my bills, rashly gamble or speculate; deprive my family of the necessities of life?
- Did I tell lies? Deliberately deceive; or injure others by lies? Did I commit perjury? Was I uncharitable in word, or deed, gossip or reveal others' faults and sins? Fail to keep secrets I should have?
- Did I eat meat on Friday, Ash Wednesday or other days forbidden by Church law?
- Did I fast as required during Lent and on Ember days?
- Did I fail to receive Holy Communion during the Easter time? Fail to confess at least once a year?
- Did I go to Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin? Without fasting (water and medicine permitted) for three hours or more from food and alcohol and one hour from drink?
- Did I make a bad confession?
- Did I fail to contribute to the support of the Church?
Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen. (To be memorized)