My children, as soon as ever you have a little spot upon your soul, you must do like a person who has a fine globe of glass, which he keeps very carefully. If this globe has a little dust on it, he wipes it with a sponge the moment he perceives it, and there is the globe clear and brilliant. In the same way, as soon as you perceive a little stain on your soul, take some holy water with respect, do one of those good works to which the remission of venial sins is attached -an alms, a genuflection to the Blessed Sacrament, hearing a Mass. My children, it is like a person who has a slight illness; he need not go and see a doctor, he may cure himself without. If he has a headache, he need only go to bed; if he is hungry, he has only to eat. But if it is a serious illness, if it is a dangerous wound, he must have the doctor; after the doctor come the remedies. In the same way, when we have fallen into any grievous sin, we must have recourse to the doctor, that is the priest; and to the remedy, that is confession.
My children, we cannot comprehend the goodness of God towards us in instituting this great Sacrament of Penance. If we had had a favour to ask of Our Lord, we should never have thought of asking Him that. But He foresaw our frailty and our inconstancy in well-doing, and His love induced Him to do what we should not have dared to ask. If one said to those poor lost souls that have been so long in Hell, “We are going to place a priest at the gate of Hell: all those who wish to confess have only to go out, ” do you think, my children, that a single one would remain? The most guilty would not be afraid of telling their sins, nor even of telling them before all the world. Oh, how soon Hell would be a desert, and how Heaven would be peopled! Well, we have the time and the means, which those poor lost souls have not. And I am quite sure that those wretched ones say in Hell, “O accursed priest! if I had never known you, I should not be so guilty!”
It is a beautiful thought, my children, that we have a Sacrament which heals the wounds of our soul! But we must receive it with good dispositions. Otherwise we make new wounds upon the old ones. What would you say of a man covered with wounds who is advised to go to the hospital to show himself to the surgeon? The surgeon cures him by giving him remedies. But, behold! this man takes his knife, gives himself great blows with it and makes himself worse than he was before. Well, that is what you often do after leaving the confessional.
My children, some people make bad confessions without taking any notice of it. These persons say, “I do not know what is the matter with me:’ . . . They are tormented, and they do not know why. They have not that agility which makes one go straight to the good God; they have something heavy and weary about them which fatigues them. My children, that is because of sins that remain, often even venial sins, for which one has some affection. There are some people who, indeed, tell everything, but they have no repentance; and they go at once to Holy Communion. Thus the Blood of Our Lord is profaned! They go to the Holy Table with a sort of weariness. They say, “Yet, I accused myself of all my sins. . . I do not know what is the matter with me. ” There is an unworthy Communion, and they were hardly aware of it!
My children, some people again profane the Sacraments in another manner. They have concealed mortal sins for ten years, for twenty years. They are always uneasy; their sin is always present to their mind; they are always thinking of confessing it, and always putting it off; it is a Hell. When these people feel this, they will ask to make a general confession, and they will tell their sins as if they had just committed them: they will not confess that they have hidden them during ten years — twenty years. That is a bad confession! They ought to say, besides, that they had given up the practice of their religion, that they no longer felt the pleasure they had formerly in serving the good God.
My children, we run the risk again of profaning the Sacrament if we seize the moment when there is a noise round the confessional to tell the sins quickly which give us most pain. We quiet ourselves by saying, “I accused myself properly; so much the worse if the confessor did not hear. ” So much the worse for you who acted cunningly! At other times we speak quickly, profiting by the moment when the priest is not very attentive to get over the great sins. Take a house which has been for a long time very dirty and neglected — it is in vain to sweep out, there will always be a nasty smell. It is the same with our soul after confession; it requires tears to purify it. My children, we must ask earnestly for repentance. After confession, we must plant a thorn in our heart, and never lose sight of our sins. We must do as the angel did to Saint Francis of Assisi; he fixed in him five darts, which never came out again.
– Saint John Mary Vianney
Examination of Conscience
I am the LORD your God. You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.
Disobeyed the commandments of God or the Church?
Refused to accept what God has revealed as true, or what the Catholic Church proposes for belief?
Denied the existence of God?
Nourished and protected my faith?
Rejected everything opposed to a sound faith?
Deliberately misled others about doctrine or the faith?
Rejected the Catholic faith, joined another Christian denomination, or joined or practiced another religion?
Joined a group forbidden to Catholics (Masons, communists, etc.)?
Despaired about my salvation or the forgiveness of my sins?
Presumed on God’s mercy? (Committing a sin in expectation of forgiveness, or asking for forgiveness without conversion and practicing virtue.)
Loved someone or something more than God (money, power, sex, ambition, etc.)?
Let someone or something influence my choices more than God?
Engaged in superstitious practices? (Incl. horoscopes, fortune tellers, etc.)
Been involved in the occult? (Seances, ouija board, worship of Satan, etc.)
Formally left the Catholic Church?
Hidden a serious sin or told a lie in confession?
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Used the name of God in cursing or blasphemy?
Failed to keep vows or promises that I have made to God?
Spoken about the Faith, the Church, the saints, or sacred things with irreverence, hatred or defiance?
Watched television or movies, or listened to music that treated God, the Church, the saints, or sacred things irreverently?
Used vulgar, suggestive or obscene speech?
Belittled others in my speech?
Behaved disrespectfully in Church?
Misused places or things set apart for the worship of God?
Committed perjury? (Breaking an oath or lying under oath.)
Blamed God for my failings?
Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
Set time aside each day for personal prayer to God?
Missed Mass on Sunday or Holy Days (through own fault w/o sufficient reason)?
Committed a sacrilege against the Blessed Sacrament?
Received a sacrament while in the state of mortal sin?
Habitually come late to and/or leave early from Mass without a good reason?
Shop, labor, or do business unnecessarily on Sunday or other Holy Days of Obligation?
Not attend to taking my children to Mass?
Knowingly eat meat on a forbidden day (or not fasting on a fast day)?
Eat or drink within one hour of receiving Communion (other than medical need)?
Honor your father and your mother.
(If still under my parents’ care) Obeyed all that my parents reasonably asked of me?
Neglected the needs of my parents in their old age or in their time of need?
(If still in school) Obeyed the reasonable demands of my teachers?
Neglected to give my children proper food, clothing, shelter, education, discipline and care (even after Confirmation)?
Provided for the religious education and formation of my children for as long as they are under my care?
Ensured that my children still under my care regularly frequent the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion?
Educated my children in a way that corresponds to my religious convictions?
Provided my children with a positive, prudent and personalized education in the Catholic teaching on human sexuality?
Been to my children a good example of how to live the Catholic Faith?
Prayed with and for my children?
Lived in humble obedience to those who legitimately exercise authority over me?
Have I broken the law?
Have I supported or voted for a politician whose positions are opposed to the teachings of Christ and the Catholic Church?
You shall not kill.
Unjustly and intentionally killed a human being?
Been involved in an abortion, directly or indirectly (through advice, etc.)?
Seriously considered or attempted suicide?
Supported, promoted or encouraged the practice of assisted suicide or mercy killing?
Deliberately desired to kill an innocent human being?
Unjustly inflicted bodily harm an another person?
Unjustly threatened another person with bodily harm?
Verbally or emotionally abused another person?
Hated another person, or wished him evil?
Been prejudiced, or unjustly discriminated against others because of their race, color, nationality, sex or religion?
Joined a hate group?
Purposely provoked another by teasing or nagging?
Recklessly endangered my life or health, or that of another, by my actions?
Driven recklessly or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs?
Abused alcohol or other drugs?
Sold or given drugs to others to use for non-therapeutic purposes?
Used tobacco immoderately?
Encouraged others to sin by giving scandal?
Helped another to commit a mortal sin (through advice, driving them somewhere, etc.?
Caused serious injury or death by criminal neglect?
Indulged in serious anger?
Refused to control my temper?
Been mean to, quarreled with, or willfully hurt someone?
Been unforgiving to others, when mercy or pardon was requested?
Sought revenge or hoped something bad would happen to someone?
Delighted to see someone else get hurt or suffer?
Treated animals cruelly, causing them to suffer or die needlessly?
Sixth & Ninth Commandments
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
Practiced the virtue of chastity?
Given in to lust? (The desire for sexual pleasure unrelated to spousal love in marriage.)
Used an artificial means of birth control?
Refused to be open to conception, without just cause? (Catechism, 2368)
Participated in immoral techniques for in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination?
Sterilized my sex organs for contraceptive purposes?
Deprived my spouse of the marital right, without just cause?
Claimed my own marital right without concern for my spouse?
Deliberately caused male climax outside of normal sexual intercourse? (Catechism, 2366)
Willfully entertained impure thoughts?
Purchased, viewed, or made use of pornography?
Watched movies and television that involve sex and nudity?
Listened to music or jokes that are harmful to purity?
Committed adultery? (Sexual relations with someone who is married, or with someone other than my spouse.)
Committed incest? (Sexual relations with a relative or in-law.)
Committed fornication? (Sexual relations with someone of the opposite sex when neither of us is married.)
Engaged in homosexual activity? (Sexual activity with someone of the same sex.)
Masturbated? (Deliberate stimulation of one’s own sexual organs for sexual pleasure.)
Engaged in sexual foreplay (petting) reserved for marriage?
Preyed upon children or youth for my sexual pleasure?
Engaged in unnatural sexual activities?
Engaged in prostitution, or paid for the services of a prostitute?
Seduced someone, or allowed myself to be seduced?
Made uninvited and unwelcome sexual advances toward another?
Purposely dressed immodestly?
Seventh & Tenth Commandments
You shall not steal.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
Stolen? (Take something that doesn’t belong to me against the reasonable will of the owner.)
Envied others on account of their possessions?
Tried to live in a spirit of Gospel poverty and simplicity?
Given generously to others in need?
Considered that God has provided me with money so that I might use it to benefit others, as well as for my own legitimate needs?
Freed myself from a consumer mentality?
Practiced the works of mercy?
Deliberately defaced, destroyed or lost another’s property?
Cheated on a test, taxes, sports, games, or in business?
Squandered money in compulsive gambling?
Make a false claim to an insurance company?
Paid my employees a living wage, or failed to give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay?
Failed to honor my part of a contract?
Failed to make good on a debt?
Overcharge someone, especially to take advantage of another’s hardship or ignorance?
Misused natural resources?
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Knowingly and willfully deceived another?
Perjured myself under oath?
Committed detraction? (Destroying a person’s reputation by telling others about his faults for no good reason.)
Committed slander or calumny? (Telling lies about another person in order to destroy his reputation.)
Committed libel? (Writing lies about another person in order to destroy his reputation.)
Been guilty of rash judgment? (Assuming the worst of another person based on circumstantial evidence.)
Failed to make reparation for a lie I told, or for harm done to a person’s reputation?
Failed to speak out in defense of the Catholic Faith, the Church, or of another person?
Betrayed another’s confidence through speech?
The Precepts of the Church
First Precept of the Church
You shall attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
(see examination under the Third Commandment)
Second Precept of the Church
You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
Made a good Confession of my mortal sins least once a year?
Purposely omitted telling my mortal sins in my last Confession?
Performed the penance I was given?
Made reparation for any harm I have done to others?
Third Precept of the Church
You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.
Fulfilled my Easter duty to receive Holy Communion at least once between the First Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday?
Received Holy Communion while in the state of mortal sin?
Fasted an hour before receiving Holy Communion?
Received Holy Communion more than twice in one day?
Fourth Precept of the Church
You shall keep holy the Holy days of Obligation.
(see examination under the Third Commandment)
Fifth Precept of the Church
You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.
Done penance every Friday, if not abstaining from meat, then some other form of penance?
Abstained from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent (if I am 14 years of age or older)?
Fasted on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (if I am between the ages of 18 and 59)?
Spent time in prayer, doing spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and practicing self-denial?
Sixth Precept of the Church
You shall contribute to the support of the Church.
Contributed a just amount of my time, talents and money to support my parish and the work of the Church?
Seventh Precept of the Church
You shall observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage.
Been living in a valid and licit marriage according to the laws of the Catholic Church?
Abandoned my spouse and family by separation or divorce?
Kept company with someone whom I cannot marry in the Catholic Church?
Given scandal by living with a member of the opposite sex without the benefit of a marriage blessed by the Catholic Church?
Entered into marriage with more than one person at the same time?
Prayers For Confession
(Remember to confess your sins with supernatural sorrow for your sins and with a firm purpose of amendment. Ask your confessor to help you with any difficulties you have in making a good confession.)
PRAYER FOR A GOOD CONFESSION
O my God, by my grievous sins I have crucified again Thy Divine Son and made Him a mockery. For this I have deserved Thy wrath and made myself fit for the fires of hell. How ungrateful have I been to Thee as well, my heavenly Father, Who created me out of nothing, redeemed me by the precious blood of Thy Son and sanctified me by Thy holy sacraments and by the Holy Ghost. But Thou hast spared me by Thy mercy, to make this confession. Receive me back as Thy prodigal son and grant me to confess well, that I may begin anew to love Thee with my whole heart and soul, and henceforth to keep Thy commandments and suffer patiently whatever temporal punishment may remain. I hope by Thy goodness and power to obtain everlasting life in Paradise. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
PRAYER BEFORE CONFESSION
O my God, without You I can do nothing. You have told me, “Ask and you shall receive.” In full confidence in Your promise, therefore, I beg You to accept the confession I am about to make and grant me true contrition for my many offenses. Saviour of the world who gave Yourself to the death of the cross to save sinners, look with mercy on me, a sinner. Regard not my wickedness in such a manner to forget Your pardon. For my offenses I deserve condemnation, but presuming upon the ransom of Your blood, I ask forgiveness. Heal my wounds, Lord Jesus. Send the light of Your truth into my soul so that I may worthily confess my shortcomings. Give me a contrite heart and a true sorrow for my offenses. Although I am unworthy of Your love, because of it I come to You for forgiveness. Have mercy on me, O Lord, have mercy!
PRAYERS AFTER CONFESSION
Let this my confession, I beg You, O Lord, be pleasing and acceptable in Your sight, by the merits of Your Blessed and Ever-virgin Mother Mary, and of all Your saints. Whatever I lack now or at any time in sufficient contrition, or in sincerity or in the completeness of my confession, do You in Your loving kindness and mercy supply, and thereby hold me more fully and perfectly absolved in Heaven; who lives and rules, one God, world without end. Amen.
I am no longer Thy enemy, O my God. By the virtue of the sacrament which I have just received, Thou hast healed the wounds of my soul; Thou hast received me into Thy favour, Thou hast revived the merits of my good works, which were dead through sin, and Thou hast changed into a temporal punishment the eternal damnation which my sins deserved. Grant me, O God, the gift of perseverance in Thy service. Ah! let me rather die a thousand deaths than offend Thee again.
O Almighty and most merciful God, who, according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies, hast vouchsafed once more to receive Thy prodigal child after so many times going astray from Thee, to this Sacrament of reconciliation; I give Thee thanks with all the power of my soul for this and all other mercies, graces and blessings bestowed on me, and prostrating myself at Thy sacred feet, I offer myself to be henceforth forever Thine. Oh, let nothing in life or death separate me from Thee! I renounce with my whole soul all the acts of treason against Thee, and all the abominations and sins of my past life.
I renew the promises I made in Baptism, and from this moment I dedicate myself to Thy love and service. Oh, grant me that for the time to come, I may abhor sin more than death itself, and all such occasions and companions, as have unhappily brought me to it. This I resolve to do by the help of Thy divine grace, without which I can do nothing. I beg Thy blessing upon these my resolutions, that they may not be ineffectual like many others I have formerly made, for, O Lord, without Thee, I am nothing but misery and sin. Supply also, by Thy mercy, whatever defects have been in this my confession, and give me grace to be now and always a true penitent. Through the same Jesus Christ Thy Son. Amen.
PRAYER OF ST PADRE PIO FOR AFTER CONFESSION
O Lord! I abandon my past to Thy mercy, my present to Thy Love, and my future to Thy Providence!