Examination of Conscience
Special thanks to Beginning Catholic for this examination.
We use an examination of conscience to help call to mind our sins and failings during a period of quiet reflection before approaching the priest in Confession. It’s important for a good Catholic examination of conscience to be thorough. This will help you learn about sins that you may not be aware of. It’s also a chance to develop your conscience.
- Set aside some quiet time for your reflection.
- Start by praying to the Holy Spirit, asking for help in making a good examination to prepare for Confession.
- Use the Ten Commandments to guide your examination.
- If necessary, take this list or some brief notes (keep them private!) to Confession to help you remember your sins.
I am the Lord your God. You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.
Have I …
- 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?
- Failed to nourish and protect 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? (Including horoscopes, fortunetellers, etc.)
- Been involved in the occult? (séances, 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 my own fault without sufficient reason)?
- Committed a sacrilege against the Blessed Sacrament?
- Received a sacrament while in the state of mortal sin?
- Habitually came late to and/or left early from Mass without a good reason?
- Shopped, labored, or done business unnecessarily on Sunday or other Holy Days of Obligation?
- Not attended to taking my children to Mass?
- Knowingly eaten meat on a day of penance (or not fasted on a fast day)?
- Eaten or drank within one hour of receiving Communion (other than water or medical need)?
Honor your father and your mother.
- Obeyed all that my parents reasonably asked of me? (If still under my parents’ care.)
- Neglected the needs of my parents in their old age or in their time of need?
- Obeyed the reasonable demands of my teachers? (If still in school.)
- 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 were 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?
- Broken the law?
- 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 on 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 discriminating 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 and 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 of the Catholic Church paragraph 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 of the Catholic Church paragraph 2366)
- Willfully entertained impure thoughts?
- Purchased, viewed, or made use of pornography?
- Watched movies and television that involved sex and nudity?
- Listened to music or jokes that were 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 is married.)
- Engaged in homosexual activity? (Sexual activity with someone of the same sex.)
- Committed rape?
- 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 and 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?
- Overcharged 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?