Examinations of Conscience For Adults, Part 1

compiled by Catherine Fournier

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An examination of conscience is a series of questions, intended to trigger our memory or lead our thoughts to a deeper understanding of of our actions, in order to hand them over to God. Most examinations of conscience use the Ten Commandments as a starting point or organizational structure for the series of questions, since they are the clearest expression of God's wishes for our life.

1. I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.
2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
3. Remember thou keep holy the Lord's day.
4. Honor thy father and thy mother.
5. Thou shalt not kill.
6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
7. Thou shalt not steal.
8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.

In everyday life and especially with respect to the sacrament of confession it is important that we form a clear and correct conscience as a means to discerning whether we have obeyed God's commandments, and how we can improve in submission to God's will. This means that we cultivate a judgment of ourselves which is both alert to offenses against the Divine will and, at the same time, alert to the wiles of the Evil One.

One effective way to distinguish between thoughts, actions, and attitudes that are the result of a properly ordered conscience is that it is characteristic of God and His angels, to give true happiness and spiritual joy. It is similarly characteristic of the evil one to disrupt or destroy such happiness and consolation by proposing false reasonings, subtleties, and continual deceptions.

What can we conclude from this? That the more we try to please God in our lives, the more He will give us a deep interior peace of soul. We should suspect a temptation from the evil one, when we find ourselves worried or anxious or disturbed, no matter how pious the source of the worry or anxiety may be.

One basic virtue on which we should daily examine ourselves is peace of soul. We should ask ourselves, "Have I given in to worry or anxiety?" "Have I allowed myself to get discouraged?" A good practice is to pronounce the name, "Jesus," when we find ourselves getting despondent, or say some short aspiration like, "My Jesus, I trust in you," whenever we become dejected over something.

Here are some examinations of conscience. All are effective, each uses a different approach.

An Examination of Conscience Based on the Ten Commandments

An Examination of Conscience Based on the Theological Virtues, written by Fr. John Hardon

A Practical Examination of Conscience by Father Luis Esteban Latorre

Examination for Housewives, excerpted from Holiness for Housewives by Dom Hubert van Zeller

Prayer Before Confession

O Lord, grant me light to see myself as Thou dost see me and the grace to be truly and efficaciously contrite for my sins. O Mary, help me to make a good confession.

Prayer for a Good Confession

O my God, by my grievous sins I have re-crucified Thy divine Son to myself and have deserved Thy everlasting wrath in the fires of hell.
Even more, I have been most ungrateful by my sins to Thee, my Heavenly Father, Who have created me out of nothing, redeemed me by Thy Son, and sanctified me in the sacraments by Thy Holy Spirit.
But Thou hast spared me to make this confession. Receive me back as Thy prodigal son and grant me to confess myself well, that I may begin anew to love Thee with my whole heart and soul, henceforth keeping Thy Commandments and suffering patiently whatever temporal punishment for my sins may remain.
I hope by Thy goodness and power to obtain everlasting life in paradise. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

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