How to make a good confession? The examination of conscience

April 23, 2020
Source: District du Canada

This is a detailed examination of conscience.

If you have not been to confession for a long time (many months or years), go through it slowly. You can bring this list in the confessional with you. 

If you come to confession regularly (every week, fortnight or month), you need not go through the whole list each time.  Pay more attention to your weaker points and habitual sins. 

For each mortal sin, one must give a) the exact number of times or at least the frequency (for ex. once a month for 2 years), b) the circumstances which can change the nature of the sin (for ex. to steal in a church.).

For venial sins, it is good to give an approximate number of times.

A) MY FORMER CONFESSIONS

I have made bad confessions (lack of preparation, of contrition, or of a firm purpose of amendment) ... times 

I have concealed some mortal sins because I was embarrassed... at what age? 

How many bad confessions?  How many resultant bad communions?  Have I corrected those confessions?... When?...  How often...? 

I have forgotten to confess some mortal sins in subsequent confessions.  How often?  What were those sins?  How often? 

I have gone to Communion without fasting... voluntarily or involuntarily?

B) THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD

FIRST COMMANDMENT

1.  Sins which detract from the honour and worship due to God; such as: Neglect of Prayer; Superstitious practices; Divination; Consulting fortune-tellers; Attaching undue importance to dreams, omens; Tempting God by exposing one's self to danger of soul, life or health, without grave cause; Sacrilege; Profane or superstitious use of blessed objects; Profanation of places or things consecrated to God; Receiving the Sacraments in a state of mortal sin.

2.  Those against Faith, such as: Wilful doubt of any article of Faith; Reading or circulating books or writings against Catholic Belief or practice; Joining in schismatical or heretical worship; Denying one's religion; Neglecting means of religious instruction.

3.  Those against Hope: Despair of God's mercy, or want of confidence in the power of His Grace to support us in trouble or temptation; Murmuring against God's providence; Presuming on God's mercy, or on the supposed efficacy of certain pious practices, in order to continue in sin.

4.  Those against Charity, such as: Wilfully rebellious thoughts against God: Boasting of sin; Violating God's Law, or omitting good works, through human respect.

SECOND COMMANDMENT

All irreverence towards God's most Holy Name; such as: Cursing and profane swearing; False, unlawful, and unnecessary oaths; Membership in societies condemned by the Church; Breaking or deferring lawful vows; Irreverence in Divine Service, and in churches and holy places even when service is not going on.

THIRD COMMANDMENT

Neglect to hear Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation; Working or making others work without necessity on such days (2 hours' work is considered 'serious matter')

FOURTH COMMANDMENT

For Parents: Hating their children; Cursing them; Giving scandal to them by cursing, drinking, etc.; Allowing them to grow up in ignorance, idleness, or sin; Showing habitual partiality, without cause; Deferring their children's Baptism; Neglecting to watch over their bodily health, their religious instructions, the company they keep, the books they read, etc.; Failing to correct them when needful; Being harsh or cruel in correction; Sending children to Protestant and other dangerous schools.

For Husbands and Wives: Ill-usage; Putting obstacles in the fulfilment of religious duties; Want of gentleness and consideration in regard to each other's faults; Unreasonable jealousy; Neglect of household duties; Sulkiness; Injurious words. 

For Employers: Not allowing one's employees reasonable time for religious duties and instruction; Giving bad example to them, or allowing others to do so; Withholding their lawful wages; Not caring for them in sickness; Dismissing them arbitrarily and without cause.

For Employees: Disrespect to employers; Want of obedience in matters wherein one has bound one's self to obey; Waste of time; Neglect of work; Waste of employer's property, by dishonesty, carelessness, or neglect. 

For Professional Men and Public Officials: Culpable lack of the knowledge relating to duties of office or profession; Neglect in discharging those duties; Injustice or partiality; Exorbitant fees.

For Teachers: Neglecting the progress of those confided to their care; Unjust, indiscreet, or excessive punishment; Partiality; Bad example, loose and false maxims.

For all: Contempt for the laws of our State and Country, as well as of the Church; Disobedience to lawful authority.

FIFTH COMMANDMENT

Unjust taking of human life (and hence, indirectly and implicitly, violence in thought, word, or act which may lead thereto); Exposing life or limb to danger without reasonable cause; Carelessness in leaving about poisons, dangerous drugs, weapons, etc.; Desires of revenge; Quarrels; Fights; Showing aversion or contempt for others; Refusing to speak to them, when addressed; Ignoring offers of reconciliation, especially between relatives; Cherishing and unforgiving spirit; Raillery and ridicule; Insults; Irritating words and actions; Sadness at another's prosperity; Rejoicing over another's misfortune; Jealousy at attentions shown to others; Tyrannical behaviour; Inducing others to sin by word or example; Gluttony; Drunkenness; Rash use of opiates; Injury to health by over-indulgence; Giving drink to others, knowing that they will abuse it.

SIXTH AND NINTH COMMANDMENTS

Two things must be remembered here especially: 1. the difference between to be tempted and to consent; 2. the three elements required for a sin to become mortal: grievous matter, sufficient reflection and full consent of the will.  One must also tell the number or frequency (for ex. "twice a month for six months") of the sins committed.

Sins in thought or desire; in looks: bad magazines, movies ...; in words: jokes, songs; in actions, alone or with another (man or woman): immodest dress, self-abuse, impure touches, fornication, adultery, contraception, abortion, sodomy. Any other type of impurity must be mentioned, as well as any circumstance that would aggravate the sins. 

SEVENTH AND TENTH COMMANDMENTS 

Stealing (What value? What damage done to property or interests?); Possession of ill-gotten goods; Exorbitant prices; False weights and measures; Cheating; Adulteration of wares; Careless or malicious injury to the property of others; Cheating at play; Appropriation of what is lent or found, without reasonable pains to return it, or to find its owner; Concealment of fraud, theft, or damage, when in duty bound to give information; Petty thefts; Culpable delay in paying lawful debts, of restitution, when able to make it; Neglect to make reasonable efforts and sacrifices in this matter, e.g. by gradually laying up the amount required. 

EIGHTH COMMANDMENT

Lying; Perjury; Frauds, public and private, such as at elections, etc.; Malicious falsehoods; Lies for unjust or bad ends; Lies against character, especially if told publicly; Revealing secrets; Publishing discreditable secrets about others, even if true; Refusing or delaying to restore the good name we have blackened; Slander or detraction, and encouraging these in others; Baseless accusations, groundless suspicions, rash judgements of others, in our own mind.

C) THE PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH 

1.  Have I neglected, without good cause, to hear Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation, and to keep those days holy by avoiding all servile work?

2.  Have I failed to fast or abstain, without sufficient reason, on those days commanded to be so observed by the Church? 

3-4.  Have I omitted to confess my mortal sins at least once a year, or to make my Easter duty? 

5.  Have I refused to contribute to the support of my Pastor, according to my means?  Gone to Mass Sunday after Sunday, without giving anything to the collections? 

6.  Have I entered into marriage, or aided any one else to do so, without bans, or before a State official or a Protestant minister; or without dispensation within the forbidden degree or kindred; or with any other known impediment?

D) THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS

Pride  I have been proud, vain, puffed up with my own importance...  I have boasted to win praise...  I have worked for applause and to gain notice... 

Avarice  Through my love of money I have refused a charity... 

Envy  Was jealous...  Was sad at others' success...  Rejoiced at their failure or suffering... 

Gluttony  Ate too much...  Got drunk...  Injured my health by abuse of tobacco...  Squandered my money...  Drugs... 

Sloth  Too lazy to fulfil my religious duties...  Too lazy to fulfil my civic duties... (chores, lessons) 

Lust.  Anger

Note:  If you have any sins not mentioned here, tell your confessor.  Also, don't hesitate to ask if you have a doubt or a question.