Making an Examination of Conscience

During this time when many of us do not have regular, if any, access to the sacrament of Confession, this would be a good time to start developing the habit of making a regular thorough Examination of Conscience, in addition to a brief Daily Examen. I might suggest doing so each Saturday night in order to make a strong Act of Contrition (found at the bottom of the Examination below) asking God’s forgiveness and receiving his grace to live the Lord’s Day as a holy day.

When we make such an act of contrition with love of God as our deepest desire, with the intention to go to the Sacrament of Penance as soon as possible, then we fully receive God’s forgiveness and experience his mercy.

from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

1451 Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.”

1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.

An Examination of Conscience (adapted from Credo: A Catholic Prayer Book)

  1. “I am the LORD your God … You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:2-3)
    “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Dt 6:5).

Do I pray every day?
Do I strive to have a personal relationship of love with God?
Does God truly hold the first place in my life?
Do I “compartmentalize” God in my life?
Am I Christian on Sundays but somethign else during the week?
Do I believe What God has revealed and profess the Catholic faith wholeheartedly? Do I accept the fullness of the Church’s teaching?
DO I search for answers to my questions about the Faith or do I cultivate a spirit of disbelief or apathy?
Have I avoided dangers to my faith?

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Lk 12:34)

Do I place undue value and itme on gaining and possessing those things the world considers important?
Am I materialistic in my attitude and outlook in regard to money?
Have I participated in the occult, witchcraft, fortune telling, ouija boards, seances, tarot cards? Have I engaged in superstitions practices? Have I actually believed in horoscopes?
Have I committed any sacrileges (misusing the name of God, his saints, holy images, sacramentals)?
Have I received HOly Communion in a state of mortal sin?
Have I told a lie in confession or deliverately withheld confessing a mortal sin? (If so, make sure to confess all the sins you can remember since your last good confession.)
Have I ever denied a truth of the Catholic faith out of embarassment?
Have I ever despaired of God’s love for me?
Have Ic ommitted the sin of presumption by presuming that God would forgive me after committing a sin?

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

Have I insulted God’s holy name or used it lightly or carelessly?
Have I spoken any blasphemies against God or the saints?
Have I used foul or inappropriate language?
Have I wished evil on anyone?

  1. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day.

Have I missed Mass on Sundays or holy days of obligation without serious reason (eg. illness, impossibility due to severe weather)?
Do O show God indifference by not taking mass seriously? Do I leave early or come late deliberately or without good reason?
The Sabbath day is a day of solemn rest, holy to the Lord (cf. Ex 31:15). Have I avoided unnecessary servile work on Sundays? Have a striven to make the day holy outside of attending mass?

  1. Honor your father and your mother.

Do I honor and obey my parents?
Have I cursed my parents or harmed them in any way?
Do I honor and obey my legitimate superiors?
Have I neglected my family responsibilities?

  1. You shall not kill.

Have I deliberately hurt anyone?
Have I had an abortion? Have I encouraged or assisted anyone in any way to have an abortion?
Have I abused drugs or alcohol?
DO I have unresolved hatred, anger, or resentment?
Have I given scandal to anyone by my sins, thereby leading them to sin?
Have I deliberately harmed myself in any way?
Have I spoken ill of others or hemared their reputation through calumny (saying falsehoods about them) or detraction (revealing faults or other facts that injure other’s repulation)?

  1. You shall not commit adultery.

For everyone.

Have I engaged in unnatural forms of sex?
Have I used artificial birthcontrol or been sterilized?
Have I have engaged in sexual behavior with someone else through the internet or phone?
Have I viewed pornography or lewd material in videos, online, or in printed materials?
Have I been impure with myself by masturbating?
Have I used impure language or told impure jokes?
Have I been immodest in dress?

For those not married.

Have I been sexually active with anyone? Was that person married?
Have I engaged in any activity with the intention of being sexually aroused or sexually active, such as impure touching or overly passionate kissing?

For the Married.

Was I married outside the Church without proper permission of the Church?
Have I been unfaithful to my marriage vows in thought and action?
Have I interrupted intercourse during sex with my spouse in order to avoid a pregnancy?
Have I used reproductive technologies that do not respect the dignity of the life conceived or the integrity of the natural sexual union of husband and wife; for example, in vitro feritilization (IVF)?

  1. You shall not steal.

Have I taken what is not mine?
Have I stolen anything from an employer or employee?
Have I destroyed property belonging to someone else?
Have I knowingly accepted stolen goods?
Have I failed to make restitution for what I have stolen?
Have I failed to give my employer an honest day’s work or squandered my time?
Have I cheated?
Have I acquired digital media/software illegally or without paying? Have I copied something illegally?

Jesus teaches us to have a special love for the poor.
Have I neglected those in need or ignored the poor?
Have I failed to be generous with the material possessions I have?
Have I failed to assis with the material needs of the Church according to my ability?

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

Have I sworn falsely?
Have I lied? About serious matters?
Have I gossiped or ruined anyone’s good name
(Also, see calumny and detraction, above §5)?

  1. You shall not desire your neighbor’s spouse.

Have I deliverate and consciously mermitted sexual thoughts about someone to whome I am not maried?
Do I deliberately entertain impure thoughts?
Do I let my imagination linger on improper images and thoughts?
Have I knowingly watched shows, videos, plays, or movies that contain impure scenes with the deliberate intent of viewing those scenes?
Am I careless of the media content I consume?

  1. You shall not desire your neighbor’s goods.

Am I envious of the possessions, talents, and successes of others>
Have I acted out of jealously of someone’s gifts or talents?

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Do I love myself as God loves me?
Do I care for my physical, emotional, and spiritual health?
Do I love my neighbor?
Are there persons who I do not love or refuse to love?
Have I ridiculed or humiliated others?
Am I prejudiced?
Do I seek to help and assist others in need?
Do I seriously try to love others as Jesus wants?
Do I forgive from my heart those who have hurt me?
DO I pray for my enemies?

Precepts of the Church
Have I failed to go to Confession at least once a year and when I have serious sins to confess?
Have I failed to be in a state of grace and received Communion at least once during the Easter season?
Have I knowingly eaten food within one our before receiving Communion?
Have I knowingly eaten meat on days of abstaining or failed to fast on the prescribed days?


O MY GOD, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, 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 You, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Your Grace to confess my sins, do my penance, and amend my life. AMEN.

Published by Catholic Campus Ministry Asheville

A ministry of the Diocese of Charlotte, serving the Catholic communities at Asheville-Buncombe Technical College, Mars Hill University, Warren Wilson College, and UNC-Asheville.