An Examination of Conscience

This section has been prepared as a spiritual tool for Adults, High School Students, Teachers, Chaplains, Priests, those who are preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confession and those who teach on the subject.

1. Conditions for the Sacrament of Confession.

To properly receive the Sacrament of Confession, one must:

1. Examine his/her conscience. (To do this, one can review the Ten Commandments of God and the Commandments of the Church.)

2. Have a sincere sorrow for having offended God, with a detestation of one's sins.

3. Make a firm resolution to avoid sin in the future and all the dangerous circumstances that lead to sin.

4. Confess one's sins to the priest.

5. Be willing to do penance for the past sins in order to satisfy the Divine Justice for them.

2. Secrecy of the Sacrament.

On the subject of the secrecy of the Sacrament of Confession, the Catechism of the Holy Catholic Church states:

"Given the delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to persons, the Church declares that every priest who hears confession is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that confession gives him about penitents' lives. This secret, which admits of no exceptions, is called the "sacramental seal," because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains 'sealed' by the sacrament." [C. C. C. # 1467]

"The secret of the sacrament of reconciliation is sacred, and cannot be violated under any pretext. 'The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray a penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.'" [C. C. C. # 2490]

3. Restitution.

In the case of stolen goods, the penitent will be reminded of his obligation to:

1. Return the stolen property, or

2. Give its equivalent value to charity.

In the case of wilful damage or destruction of someone's property, the penitent will be reminded of his obligation to:

1. Pay to repair or replace the property, or

2. Give its equivalent value to charity.

4. Receiving the Holy Eucharist while in a state of mortal sin.

To receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist while in a state of mortal sin is a sacrilege. One must prepare himself by receiving the Sacrament of Confession prior to receiving the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to ensure that he is in a state of grace.

On this subject, Saint Paul states: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died." [1 Cor. 11:27-30]

5. Sin separates us from God.

The six benefits that are received through the Sacrament of Confession are:

1. Reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers his state of grace;

2. Reconciliation with the Church;

3. The remission of the eternal punishment incurred through mortal sins;

4. The remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;

5. Peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;

6. An increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.

By approaching the Sacrament of Confession, the penitent obtains pardon from God's mercy for the sins he has committed against God, therefore being reconciled with the Holy Catholic Church which was wounded by the shipwreck of one of its members. (C.C.C. # 1422, 1496)

6. Ways of sinning.

A sin can be committed by thought, desire, word, action or omission.

7. Mortal sin.

For a sin to be serious or mortal, it must meet the following conditions:

1. The thought, desire, word, action or omission must be seriously wrong or considered seriously wrong. It must be serious matter.

2. The sinner must be mindful of the serious wrong. He must have had sufficient reflection upon committing the sin.

3. The sinner must fully consent to the sin. His free will must have consented to it.

8. Guilt by assisting others to sin.

One can be guilty by helping someone else to sin in any of the following ways:

1. By advising someone to sin.

2. By commanding someone to sin.

3. By provoking someone to sin.

4. By consenting to someone's sin.

5. By showing someone how to sin.

6. By praising someone for his sin.

7. By concealing, remaining silent about, doing nothing to prevent someone's sin.

8. By taking part in or enjoying the result of someone's sin.

9. By defending someone's sin.

9. List of possible sins.




Animal abuse (chase with motor vehicles, etc...)

Animal neglect

Assault someone

Avarice (making money a god)

Bad confession (did not tell the priest the truth)

Believed in fortune telling (fate versus faith)


Birth Control (practice artificial)

Business cheating

Calumny (accusing others of one's own sins or faults)

Church support neglected

Debts neglected

Disobey parents

Disobey the authorities

Dressed immodestly

Drug Abuse (causing harm to my health)


Employee not doing a just day's work

Employer not paying just wages

Envy (jealous of the neighbour's possessions)

Fighting (with brothers and sisters)

Fornication (pre-marital sex)

Gambling excess and family neglect

Gluttony (excessive eating)

Gossiped (about friends, neighbours, etc...)

Guilty of parents' sadness or unhappiness by harm or ungratefulness


Holy Day of Obligation (did not attend)

Holy Eucharist received in a state of mortal sin.

Homosexual or lesbian acts


Impure books (read)

Impure movies (watched)

Impure thoughts and desires

Impurity entertained (Internet)


Lying (to parents, police officer, in Court)



Neglected physical welfare of wife/husband/family

Neglected spiritual welfare of wife/husband/family

Neglected teaching the faith by one's example

Neglected teaching the faith to one's children

Prayers neglected at meals

Prayers neglected in morning and night



Promote evil practices in society

Property damage

Racist (being)

Revenge (taking)

Sacrilege (violated sacred things, damaged Church, striking a priest)


Stealing (name what it is)

Sunday Mass (did not attend)

Superstitious beliefs


Traffic laws disobeyed

Used the name of God and Jesus in disrespectful way

Used the name of sacred articles in disrespectful way

White lies (partial truth)

You may also wish to review the following Bible passages:

[Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21:7-8, 22:15]

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