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Examination of Conscience

Examination of Conscience in Preparation for Confession

Daily Examination of Conscience

How to Perform an Examination of Conscience

Instructions for Examination of Conscience

Examination of Conscience Prayers

Examination of Conscience Topics

Prayers for Examination of Conscience

Topics for Examination of Conscience

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Arrow Question / Issue:

Can you provide some general guidance on performing an examination of conscience?

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

[click link(s) below, as applicable]

According to the Catechism of St. John Neumann...

Q. About what should be examine our conscience?

A. About the sins that we committed since our last confession in thought, word or deed, and in omission of the good works that we are obliged to perform.

According to the Baltimore Catechism...

Q. What should we do before beginning the examination of conscience?

A. Before beginning the examination of conscience we should pray to God to give us light to know our sins and grace to detest them.

And...

Q. How can we make a good examination of conscience?

A. We can make a good examination of conscience by calling to memory the commandments of God, the precepts of the Church, the seven capital sins, and the particular duties of our state in life, to find out the sins we have committed.

Note that an examination of conscience should always be done before confession. It should also be done more frequently [e.g. daily, more than once per day (e.g. morning, evening)]. For additional assistance with an examination of conscience, consider the following which is excerpted from our publication...

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DAILY EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

Note: It is recommended to perform an examination of conscience regularly - even multiple times a day - but at least once every evening ("Never go to bed without the previous examen of your conscience!"). Although full treatment of an examination of conscience is beyond the scope of this book, we have included a few relevant prayers and topics below for your convenience. For more detailed treatment of this topic, consider a good, traditional Catholic publication that appropriately covers this practice. It may also be wise to consult a good Catholic priest or other appropriate good Catholic spiritual director.

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Prayer Before Examination of Conscience

"Before beginning the examination of conscience we should pray to God to give us light to know our sins and grace to detest them." (Baltimore Catechism)

O my Lord Jesus Christ, Judge of the living and the dead, before whom I must appear one day to give an exact account of my whole life; enlighten me, I beseech Thee, and give me a humble and contrite heart, that I may see wherein I have offended Thine infinite Majesty, and judge myself now with such a just severity, that then Thou mayest judge me with mercy and clemency. (St. Andrew's Missal)

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Prayer After Examination of Conscience

O My God, I cry to Thee with the prodigal son: 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before Thee; I am no longer worthy to be called Thy son.' Thou Whose property is always to have mercy and to spare the penitent, O meet me in pity, embrace me in love and forgive me all my sins. I confess my sins unto Thee, O Christ, Healer of our souls, Lord of Life. Heal me of my spiritual sickness, Thou Who art long-suffering and of tender mercy; heal me, O Lord Christ. Thou, O God, seest me in all the foulness of my sins! Blessed Jesus, speak for me, plead for me, come between my soul and my offended God, that I perish not. Amen.

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Acts of Contrition (Various)

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 art 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.

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.

O my God, I am sorry with my whole heart for all my sins, and I hate them, not only because by sinning I have deserved the punishments appointed by Thee, but especially because I have offended Thee, the Supreme Good, Who art worthy to be loved above all things. Therefore I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace not to sin again, and carefully to avoid the immediate occasions of sin.

Note: Also see 'Confiteor'.

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"Nothing can be imagined more useful than for those who value their salvation to examine their consciences diligently twice every day, morning and night." (St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church)

"[The faithful] should all be admonished frequently to examine their consciences, in order to ascertain if they have been faithful in the observance of those things which God and His Church require. Should anyone be conscious of sin, he should immediately accuse himself, humbly solicit pardon from God, and implore time to confess and satisfy for his sins. Above all, let him supplicate the aid of divine grace, in order that he may not relapse into those sins which he now penitently deplores." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Experience shows that the man who frequently subjects his thoughts, words and actions to a strict examination, gains new strength of soul both to detest and fly from evil and to desire and strive for the good." (Pope St. Pius X, "Haerent Animo", 1908 A.D.)

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Possible Topics & Considerations for Examination of Conscience

[Note: For assistance in applying the commandments & other information herein, consult appropriate, competent Church authorities. Remember that interpretation and application of items should not be contrary to the perennial, official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. See terms of use for other important information.]

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Ten Commandments

1. I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me.

2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

3. Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day.

4. Honor your father and your mother.

5. You shall not kill.

6. You shall not commit adultery.

7. You shall not steal.

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.

Ref.: Vatican Website, Ex. 20:1-17, Deut. 5:1-21

Note: Above is an abridged form of the commandments based on Holy Scripture. Note that the commandments as indicated in the Bible are not numbered and may have various wording differences.

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Two Greatest Commandments

1. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.

2. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Ref.: Mt. 22:34-40, Mk. 12:28-31

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Seven Deadly Sins

1. Pride

2. Covetousness

3. Lust

4. Anger

5. Gluttony

6. Envy

7. Sloth

Ref.: A Catechism of Christian Doctrine ("Penny Catechism")

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Six Sins Against the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost)

1. Presumption

2. Despair

3. Resisting the Known Truth

4. Envy of Another's Spiritual Good

5. Obstinacy in Sin

6. Final Impenitence

Ref.: A Catechism of Christian Doctrine ("Penny Catechism")

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Four Sins 'Crying to Heaven'

1. Willful Murder

2. The Sin of Sodom

3. Oppression of the Poor

4. Defrauding Laborers of Their Wages

Ref.: A Catechism of Christian Doctrine ("Penny Catechism")

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Six Precepts of the Church

1. To assist at Mass and rest from servile work on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.

2. To fast and abstain on all days appointed by the Church.

3. To go to Confession at least once a year.

4. To (worthily) receive the Blessed Sacrament at least once a year, during Easter time.

5. To contribute to the support of our pastors according to our means.

6. Not to marry persons who are not Catholics, or who are related to us within certain degrees of kindred, nor privately without witnesses, nor to solemnize marriage at forbidden times. [Note: For more information regarding traditional teachings on 'mixed marriages', try here. For more on marriage, try here.]

Note: When applicable, the Church may excuse certain persons from some precepts under certain circumstances. For more information, consult a good, holy Catholic priest.

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Ways of Being Accessory to Another's Sin

There are a variety of ways of being an accessory to another's sin, including:

  • By counsel

  • By command

  • By consent

  • By provocation

  • By praise or flattery

  • By concealment

  • By being a partner in the sin

  • By defending the ill done

  • By providing the sinner refuge from justice

  • By silence

Ref.: Catholic Dictionary, A Catechism of Christian Doctrine ("Penny Catechism")

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Some Other Considerations

When reviewing the events of the day during an examination of conscience, some other relevant considerations may include:

  • Have you committed any sins against God, your neighbor, or yourself?

  • Have you committed any sins of omission or negligence?

  • Have you set a bad example?

  • Have you fulfilled the duties of your state of life?

  • Are you truly contrite for all sins?

  • Do you have a resolution to amend your ways, avoid future sin, and make restitution?

  • Have you reflected on the Passion, Final Judgment, Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven?

  • Have you asked the Lord for forgiveness and the Blessed Virgin Mary & the Saints for their intercession?

  • Etc.


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