Preparing for Confession

Confession is meant to be a sincere moment of conversion, an occasion to demonstrate trust in God's willingness to forgive His children, and to help them back on the path of following Jesus. Pope Francis said "The best way to guard one's heart is with the daily practice of an "examination of conscience" in which one quietly reviews what bad things one has done and what good things one has failed to do for God, one's neighbour and oneself". You may wish to take advantage of the following forms of examination of conscience as you prepare for your next day or your next confession / celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation.

Examination of Conscience - based on the Nightly Examen

Invite the Spirit to help you examine your conscience and discern your sins. Reflect deeply on your activities and attitudes. Let God know what you have learned and that you are sorry. Your examination of conscience is intended to jog your memory to think about sins you may have ignored, and see how they connect with each other. Remember to look into the past, to see what wrongs you have done. Remember to look at the present, to see what habits you want to break. Remember to look to the future, to see how you could change for the better. "Almighty and Eternal God, show me where I have failed to respond to Your promptings and invitation to change my life this day, so that I may be free to become the best version of myself."

Examination of Conscience - based on the Seven Deadly Sins

#1 - PRIDE is a deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired. The VIRTUE in opposition to PRIDE is HUMILITY, which is a modest view of one's own importance.
Sub-sins of Pride:
  • disobedience - failure or refusal to obey authority
  • boastfulness - showing excessive pride
  • hypocrisy - not conforming to one's own standards
  • contention - heated disagreement
  • obstinacy - stubbornness
  • discord - lack of harmony
  • excess love of 'novelties' - overly concerned with fashion, technology, and other 'stuff'

#2 - ANGER is a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. The VIRTUE in opposition to ANGER is FORGIVENESS, which is the action or process of forgiving others.
Sub-sins of Anger:
  • indignation - annoyance provoked by what is perceived to be unfair
  • swelling of the mind - gradual building of strong feelings of annoyance displeasure, or hostility
  • clamour - raising the voice
  • blasphemy - profane talk
  • name calling - abusive language or insults
  • quarrels - arguments or disagreements

#3 - LUST is a very strong sexual desire, or a strong passionate desire for something. The VIRTUE in opposition to LUST is CHASTITY, which is the freedom from immorality, especially of a sexual nature.
Sub-sins of Lust:
  • blindness of mind - turning a blind eye and acting on temptation
  • thoughtlessness - no consideration for others
  • inconstancy - not faithful or dependable, constantly changing
  • impulsiveness - acting without thinking or forethought
  • self-love - tending to be smug and superior
  • hatred of God
  • love of the world
  • contempt for Heaven

#4 - ENVY is a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or blessings. The VIRTUE in opposition to ENVY is ADMIRATION, which is respect or warm approval of others.
Sub-sins of Envy:
  • hatred - intense dislike or ill-will
  • tale-bearing - malicious gossip or revealing secrets
  • detraction - reducing or taking away the worth or value of a person or thing
  • joy at other`s misfortune
  • grief of other`s prosperity

#5 - GLUTTONY is an excess consumption of food, drink, or pleasure. The VIRTUE in opposition to GLUTTONY is ASCETICISM, which is self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence.
Sub-sins of Gluttony:
  • unseemly joy - improper or inappropriate 'happiness'
  • vulgarity - lacking sophistication or good taste
  • uncleanness - impurity or unfitness
  • loquaciousness - talking overly much
  • dullness of mind regarding understanding

#6 - AVARICE is an obsession with money or covetousness (wanting what other people have). The VIRTUE in opposition to AVARICE is GENEROSITY, which is the quality of being kind and generous and practicing good stewardship of your resources.
Sub-sins of Avarice:
  • treachery - deception or betrayal of trust
  • fraud - wrongful or criminal deception
  • falsehood - lying or untruthfulness
  • perjury - willingly telling a lie after taking an oath to tell the truth
  • restlessness - anxiety and discontent over possessions
  • violence - behaviour involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something
  • insensibility for mercy - lack of concern or compassion for the plight of others

#7 - SLOTH is an aversion to seeking the spiritual disciplines of prayer, bible study, church attendance, etc. The VIRTUE in opposition to SLOTH is ZEAL, which is great energy or enthusiasm.
Sub-sins of Sloth:
  • malice - intention or desire to do evil
  • spite - desire to hurt, annoy or offend
  • faintheartedness - being timid or lacking courage
  • sluggishness - with regard to living the Ten Commandments and Law of Love
  • wandering of the mind after unlawful things

Examination of Conscience - based on the Stations of the Cross

First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Death - Every time I choose to sin, I choose death instead of life. Whenever I bear false witness in any form, I lie against You and deny You, who is Truth Incarnate. Help me Lord, to accept and proclaim the Truth wherever I might be.

Second Station: Jesus Carries His Cross - You take my sins upon Your shoulders. My sins weigh down Your cross, making Your burden worse. You accept the cross and my sins without complaint so that I might live. Do I accept and offer up my sufferings in love? Do I humbly accept Your will, or do I rebel against it? Help me Lord, to humbly carry my own cross in loving service of you.

Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time - When I choose my own path, I often stumble and fall. How foolish I am to think that I know better than You what is good for me. Help me Lord, to trust in Your ways, and to follow where You lead me.

Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother - You console Your mother who suffers along with You. How often do I fail to properly respect those You have placed in authority over me? My parents, my employer, my Bishop, my Priest? How often do I mock and even disobey them or Your laws and Your truth? Help me to respect lawful authority and value obedience to those You put above me.

Fifth Station: Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross - Simon is forced to help You. How often do I avoid my duties of loving service? Failing to offer help to those in need? Do I remain silent, ignoring my neighbours' need for help? Help me Lord, to reach out to those in need, in whatever way I can.

Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus - You are shown mercy by someone who suffers with You. Do I show mercy to those who suffer? Do I make others suffer, just because I am suffering? In my pain and suffering, do I choose to strike out in rudeness and irritability? Help me Lord, to share in the suffering of others with love, extending mercy and kindness to provide them some comfort and compassion.

Seventh Station: Jesus Falls for the Second Time - Do I put others down through my words or actions? Do I rejoice when others stumble and fall? Am I cruel? Inconsiderate? Thoughtless? Vindictive? Resentful? Hateful? Help me Lord, to lift others up and carry them in their need.

Eighth Station: The Women Weep Over Jesus - You comfort Lord, the people I hurt through my own selfishness and ignorance. Sometimes I let living in this world lead me to become selfish, putting myself above You and not caring for those You love. Help me Lord, to see others through Your eyes and love them with Your heart.

Ninth Station: Jesus Falls the Third Time - How often do I hurt others in what I say and do? In my insensitivity and rudeness? In anger? Acting out in violence? In my indifference? In my fears? In my gossip? In my laziness? Help me Lord, not to hurt others, deliberately or accidentally, but rather to act always in love.

Tenth Station: Jesus is Stripped of His Garments - Do I strip others of their dignity and worth? Do I take something that is not mine? Do I long to indulge in luxuries far beyond my needs? Do I envy those who have more than me? Help me Lord, to be satisfied with enough and to use what I have been given for the good of others.

Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross - Do I enjoy hurting someone else in body, mind, or soul? Through my temper? My lack of concern? Or in calculated coldness? Do I think about how my actions and words affect others? Help me Lord, to never intentionally hurt others.

Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross - Transform my heart to love as You do. You died for me. Am I willing to live for You? Help me Lord, to die to myself and to live always in You.

Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross - You have been abandoned by most of your followers who ran away in fear. I too abandon You when I give in to fears, anxieties, and worries instead of facing the truth and trusting Your infinite love. Help me Lord, to trust You always, with every aspect of my life.

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb - How often do I hide You from others? And hide myself from Your Presence? In what areas do I not let You into my life? Help me Lord, to open my heart, love You all the time, and allow You to be ever present in my heart, in my thoughts, in my words, and in my deeds.

Examination of Conscience - based on Jesus's Words in the Gospels

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart." Luke 10:27
  • When have I not set my heart on God? When have I loved the things of this world or my own preferences more than God?
  • Have I Listened to the word of God? Am I faithful to prayer? Do I learn the teachings of the Church and strive to keep them? Have I hesitated to defend my beliefs in the presence of others? Do I fear to let others know I am a Christian?
  • Do I pray daily? Do I lift my mind and heart to God or merely recite words? Do I ask God's help in time of temptation?
  • Do I keep God's name holy? Do I respect God and others by my choice of words, avoiding those that give offense?
  • Do I participate at Mass on Sundays and holy days?
  • Do I worship the false gods of money, superstition, selfishness, or intoxicants? Do I choose violence as a solution to problems?

"Love one another as I love you." John 15:12
  • Have I shown genuine love to my neighbours? Do I take advantage of them? Do I do to them what I would not want done to myself? Have I given scandal?
  • Have I been patient and loving to my family? Have I obeyed and cared for my parents? Have I set a good example for my children? Am I faithful to my spouse in my heart and in my relations with others?
  • Do I share my possessions with the needy? Have I helped victims of oppression, misfortune or poverty? Do I look down on the poor, the sick, the elderly, strangers, and people of other races?
  • Do I participate in the apostolic works of the Church? Do I give to charities? An I active in my parish? Have I contributed to the unity of the Church, the spread of the Gospel, and peace and justice?
  • Do I support the community where I live? Do I promote justice, morality, harmony, and love among citizens? Have I paid my taxes? Do I take seriously my civic responsibility to vote my conscience? Have I carefully considered the mind of the Church as I develop my views on public issues and have I communicated these to my elected officials?
  • At work, am I just, hardworking, and honest, serving society out of love for others? Do I pay a fair wage to my employees? Have I been faithful to promises and contracts?
  • At school, do I participate in class in a way that shows respect for others? Do I help others learn? Do I complete my assignments on time?
  • Do I respect and heed those in authority over me?
  • Do I use my authority for my own advantage or for the good of others?
  • Have I been truthful and fair? Have I injured others by deceit, calumny, detraction, rash judgement, or violation of a secret entrusted to me?
  • Have I committed violence against others? Have I damaged someone's person, reputation, honour, or possessions? Have I advised an abortion or procured one? Do I harbour hate for anyone? Am I estranged from others through quarrels, enmity, insults, or anger? Have I not testified to someone' innocence?
  • Have I stolen someone's property? Have I desired it unjustly? Have I restored what I caused someone to lose?
  • Have I been ready to make peace and forgive those who have injured me? Do I desire revenge against someone who has harmed me, my family, or my community?

"Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48
  • Does the hope of eternal life guide the decisions on my life? Have I grown in the Spirit through prayer and self-denial? Have I tried to control my bad inclinations and passions, like envy or excessive love of food or drink? Have I been proud and boastful? Have I imposed my will on others?
  • Have I used my time, health, and strength for the sake of the Gospel? Do I squander the on lesser goods? Have I been lazy and too much given to leisure?
  • Have I patiently accepted the sorrows and disappointments of life? Have I fasted and abstained when the Church asks me to?
  • Do I practice chastity out of respect for my body and the bodies of others? Have I given in to sensuality? Have I indulged in reading, conversation, websites, and entertainments contrary to Christian and human decency? Have I led others to sin by my failure to maintain these standards? Have I been faithful to my married life? Have I been faithful to my state of life as a single person?
  • Have I gone against my conscience out of fear or hypocrisy?
  • Have I always tried to act in the true freedom of the children of God according to the law of the Spirit?

Examination of Conscience - based on the Lenten Season

Consider the following questions:
  • Do I only turn to God when I'm in need?
  • Do I attend Mass on Sundays and hold days of obligation?
  • Do I begin and end my day with prayer?
  • Am I embarrassed to show that I am a Christian?
  • Do I rebel against God's plan for my life?
  • Am I envious, hot-tempered, biased, or prejudiced?
  • Am I honest and fair with everyone or do I fuel the 'throwaway culture'?
  • Do I uphold morality in my marital and family relations?
  • Do I honour and respect my parents?
  • Have I refused newly conceived life? Have I snuffed out the gift of life or helped to do so?
  • Do I respect the environment?
  • Am I part worldly and only part believer?
  • Do I overdo eating, drinking, smoking, gambling, or amusements?
  • Am I overly concerned with my physical well-being or my possessions?
  • How do I use my time? Am I spiritually lazy?
  • Do I want to be served instead of serving?
  • Do I dream of revenge or hold grudges?
  • Am I meek, humble, and a builder of peace?

Examination of Conscience - Based on the Marian Visitation and the Magnificat (Luke 1:39-56)

1. "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb."
Have I greeted others with curses instead of blessings?
Have I borne bitter fruit in my thoughts. words, or deeds?

2. "And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"
Have I denied my own worth or the worth of others, disbelieving that God is present in myself or in others?
Have I missed the presence of God in others because I am too busy, hurried, or anxious?

3. "For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy!"
Have I closed my ears to the sound of God's voice coming from unexpected people, places, and encounters?
Have I grown so serious that I cannot leap for joy?

4. "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."
Have I lost hope and faith in others, in myself, in the Church, in the world, or in my community?
Have I prevented the Word from being fulfilled by my apathy, passive-aggressive behaviour, despair, or complacency?

5. "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour."
Does my very being, my very presence preach the goodness of God?
Do I sing, dance, play, and rejoice with others as often as I can?

6. "For he has looked upon the lowliness of his servant; and from now on, all will call me blessed."
Who have I looked down upon because of their particular spirituality, lifestyle, political views, educational background, or economic wealth or poverty?

7. "The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name."
When have I taken credit for what I have not done?
When have I denied my own participation in the evil that my community, church, family, country have done?

8. "His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him."
Have I lost my sense of mercy and compassion so that nothing ever angers or sickens me?
Have I lost my sense of fear, awe, and reverence that nothing ever moves me at my core?
Have I forgiven those who have hurt me in the past?

9. "He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart."
Have I been secretly arrogant?
Have I used my own power, status, education, or religion to put others down, even in the silence of my heart?

10. "He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly."
Have I done all I can to participate in and influence the political life of my community, province, and nation?
Have I been afraid to speak out for truth and justice and the Gospel message?

11. "The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty."
Have I become gluttonous for praise, acknowledgement, and places of honour?
Who have I sent away empty, without my acknowledgement, thanks, care, or gratitude?

12. "He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to His promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
Have I refused to give help to those in need?
Have I been a good steward of my time, talent and treasure?
Do I show others mercy?
Have I broken my promises?

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