Examination of Conscience

in Preparation for

the Sacrament of Penance

© 1999 KIC. Trademark. All Rights Reserved.

This collection arrangement is copyrighted by Marianna Bartold.

All materials are from approved Church sources.


Prayer Before Confession


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.


O almighty and merciful God I humbly ask forgiveness of Thee, for I have been very ungrateful; with the prodigal son I exclaim, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before Thee." Receive me again as Thy child; "O God, be merciful to me, a sinner." (St. Luke, 18:13)


Come, O Holy Spirit, enlighten my mind that I may clearly know my sins, move my heart that I may be truly sorry for them, sincerely confess them, and amend my life. Amen.


O Mary, my Mother, pray for me, an unworthy sinner.

Pray one Hail Mary.

The Examination


Those who frequent the Sacrament of Confession often and make it a habit to examine their conscience daily should not find much difficulty in recalling their sins. When first preparing for confession, it is helpful to ask oneself the following questions:


How long ago did you make your last confession? Did you omit to confess either intentionally or through forgetfulness any mortal sin? Did you willfully make any false statements in reference to a mortal sin you committed? Did you perform the penance imposed upon you? If not, say the penance before you enter the confessional. If, for some reason, you cannot pray the penance previously given you, mention that fact to your confessor.

The Ten Commandments

(Continuation of the Examination of Conscience)


The First Commandment:

"I am the Lord Thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before Me."


Have you doubted in matters of faith and morals? Have you willfully exposed your faith to danger unnecessarily? Do you frequent bad places or continue in evil associations or read books and literature against the Faith? Did you ever feel shame or loathing in expressing your faith for fear of ridicule? Have you gone to non-Catholic churches in order to worship Our Lord?

Have you given way to despair? Have you doubted God's mercy?

Have you neglected to pray your daily prayers as a result of spiritual indifference? Is this becoming a habit of yours?

Is there anything you have placed in importance before the honor due to God, such as position, seeking the esteem of others, or wealth?


The Second Commandment:

"Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord Thy God in vain."


Have you used the name of God thoughtlessly, in cursing a person or object, or in blasphemy? Have you likewise abused the holy name of Jesus? Have you sworn by anything holy without necessity? Have you sworn a false oath or lied after taking an oath? Have you failed to keep a vow you have made to God?

Have you used profane language? Are you in the habit of doing so? Have you spoken disrespectfully of anything that pertains to God, His angels, or His saints? Have you spoken disrespectfully or ridiculed devotions of the Church?


The Third Commandment:

"Remember thou to keep holy the Sabbath day."


Have you missed Sunday Mass or holy days of obligation without good cause? Were you late for Mass without sufficient reason? Did you leave the Mass before it was truly completed without a valid excuse? How much of the Mass did you miss?


Are you in the habit of willfully missing the Sunday Mass or parts of the Mass? Have you been disrespectful in church? Were you willfully distracted while assisting at Mass or any other pious Catholic service? Did you engage in unnecessary conversation while in church?


Have you failed to see that your children attended Mass? Have you performed or commanded servile work on Sundays or holy days without necessity?


The Fourth Commandment:

"Honor Thy father and Thy mother."


Have you refused to obey your parents or other lawful superiors when they commanded you to do something which is lawful and morally correct? Have you grieved or mocked them? Have you failed to help your parents when they were in need? Have you remembered to pray for them? In the case of deceased parents, have you remembered to offer Masses for their souls and pray for them often?

If you are a parent, have you done anything to prevent the purpose of matrimony? Are you bringing up your children in the fear and love of God? Do you, without sufficient reason, send them to a non-Catholic school or allow them to remain in any school which could be a detriment to their faith and morals? Do you instruct your children in the Catholic Faith, as you promised to do in your marriage vows?

Do you insist that your children pray their morning and evening prayers, go to Confession, and attend Mass? Do you pray with and for them? Do you correct them and strive to assist them in overcoming their faults, without shaming or nagging them?

Do you give your children good example as a Catholic by word and deed? Do you do anything that causes unhappiness in your home (bad temper, alcohol or drug abuse, willfulness, pride, neglect, etc.)? Do you support your children financially and see to their physical well being? Do you watch over your children's company? Do you allow your children to attend any places or keep company with those who could lead them into sin? Do you allow them to be out at late hours and without knowing their whereabouts? Is there any other thing in which you may have neglected your duties to your children?


The Fifth Commandment:

"Thou shalt not kill."


Have you in any way caused the death of another by neglect or by positive act? Have you unjustly wounded another by word or deed? Have you struck another in anger? Have you born a grudge, hatred or malice toward another? Have you been purposefully unkind? Have you, by word or deed, caused anyone sorrow in order to protect your own interests? Have you refused to forgive? Have you refused to apologize to those whom you have unjustly wounded by word or deed, or make other acts of reparation to them? Have you ridiculed others who did not want to commit a sin or were sorry for their sins? Have you respected the health of others by avoiding contact with people when you are sick? Have you coerced anyone, assisted at or sought to procure a medical or self-imposed abortion of an unborn child?


The Sixth and Ninth Commandments:

"Thou shalt not commit adultery."

"Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's wife."


Have you willfully taken pleasure in impure thoughts or entertained impure desires? Have you indulged in impure talk or sung improper or suggestive songs? Have you listened to such talk or songs willfully and unnecessarily? Did you show any approval or pleasure of them or encourage the speaker or singer to continue? Have you read immodest publications?


Have you taken part in immodest looks or acts - either alone or with others? Have you sinned by impure touch upon yourself or anyone else? Have you boasted of immodest acts you or others have committed?


Have you taught another, by word or example, to commit impurity? Have you been the occasion of sin or temptation to others by dressing immodestly? Have you exposed yourself to the danger of committing sins of impurity by evil associations, by frequenting bad places of amusement, theatres or movies?


If you are or were keeping company (dating, courting), have you sufficiently guarded against all proximate occasions of sin?


The Seven and Tenth Commandments:

"Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not covet Thy neighbor's goods."


Have you taken what is not yours? Have your received or purchased anything you knew to be stolen? Have you been dishonest in any business dealing? Have you willfully and unjustly damaged the property of another? Have you failed to make restitution when you were obliged and able to do so? Have you through your own fault neglected to pay your debts? Have you sinned in any other way against justice?


The Eighth Commandment:

"Thou shalt not bear false witness against Thy neighbor."


Have you in any unjust way injured the reputation of another? Have you made false statements? Have you made suggestions that would cause suspicion? Have you made known without necessity the hidden faults of another? Have you revealed secrets under circumstances where you were not permitted to do so? Have you read letters not intended for you, when you knew that the person concerned would not want you to read them?


Have you listened with pleasure to calumny or detraction (i.e., false statements or true ones unjustly injurious to another?) Have you told lies? What kind? Have you judged others rashly or suspected them falsely?


The Precepts of the Church


Have you confessed your sins once a year? If not, how long is it since your last worthy confession? Have you received Holy Communion during Easter time?


Have you fasted according to your ability when obliged to do so by the Church?


Have you abstained from flesh-meat on the appointed days?


Have you contributed as best you can to the support of the Church?


Have you attempted to contract marriage without the presence of a priest?


If there anything else of which your conscience feels guilty?


After the Examination


Do not make the Act of Contrition a mere recital of words, but reflect seriously on the seriousness of sin, on your forgetfulness and/or ingratitude, on the goodness of God and the bitter sufferings of Jesus, endured for your sins.


Contrition is not just a matter of sentiment. Make a firm resolution to do everything you can to avoid falling into sin again because sin is offensive to God.



In the confessional, say, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It is -----(state the time since your last confession) since my last confession. Since that time, I have......" and tell your sins humbly, clearly and entirely. Answer any questions the priest may ask. As you are concluding your confession, say to the priest, "For these sins, and those I truly do not remember, I ask for your forgiveness and advice." (Be sure, however, not to intentionally refrain from confessing any sin.)


If after a careful examination of conscience, you fail to know or remember some sins you have committed, or if you truly forget to mention them in the confessional, that does not make your confession unworthy. All you need do is try your best to remember to confession them the next time you receive the Sacrament of Penance. It is not necessary to do so before you receive Holy Communion.


Do not cause unnecessary delay by telling things that do not belong in the confessional. Never mention the names of person with whom you may have committed sins.

If you have no mortal sins to confession, confess the venial sins of which you are aware. While there is no strict obligation to confess venial sins, it is highly desirable to do so, to the benefit of your soul. Additionally, many venial sins can lead to mortal sins. The more often you confess, the more grace you will have in your soul to resist sin.


Listen to the priest's advice and accept his penance. Pray the Act of Contrition as he absolves you:

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 are 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.


After confession, kneel before the Blessed Sacrament and perform your penance according to the direct of your confessor, and thank God for His Mercy in your own words and with the following prayer:



O most merciful God, I thank Thee for Thy unfailing kindness in having again received me and for all the graces and blessings Thou hast bestowed upon me. In the Sacrament of Penance, my soul has been cleansed from sin in the Precious Blood of Jesus. Grant that I ma abhor sin as the greatest evil and may avoid the occasions of sin; this I resolve to do with the assistance of Thy grace. Bless my resolutions that they may not be in vain as so many others have been. Enable me to remain in the state of sanctifying grace, that I may save my soul.


Hail Mary, etc.


Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ in atonement for my sins, in in supplication for the holy souls in Purgatory, and for the needs of the Holy Church. Amen.


Praised by Jesus and Mary, now and forever. Amen.


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