An Examination of
Conscience for Adults
Compiled from approved sources
I believe in a
loving Savior Who forgives my sins and Who gives me the grace to become a
saint. Jesus Christ, through the ministry of His priests, does both in the
Sacrament of Penance.
"As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you ... Receive
ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and
whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." (John 20:21-23)
"If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white
as snow." (Isaias 1:18)
"I am not come to call the just, but sinners." (Matt.
"Men have received from God a power not granted to angels
or archangels. Never was it said to the heavenly spirits, Whatsoever you
shall bind and unbind on earth shall be bound and unbound in heaven. The
princes of this world can only bind and unbind the body. The power of the
priest extends further; it reaches the soul, and it is exercised not only in
baptizing, but still more in pardoning sins. Let us not blush, then, to confess
our faults. He who blushes to discover his sins to a man, and who will not
confess, shall be covered with shame on the Day of Judgment in the presence of
the whole universe." (St. John Chrysostom, Treatise on Priests, Bk.
before Confession: O Lord, grant me light to see myself as Thou dost see
me, and the grace to be truly and effectively sorry for my sins. O Mary, help
me to make a good confession.
How to Confess: First examine your conscience well, then tell the priest the specific kind
of sins you have committed and, to the best of your ability, how many times you
have committed them since your last good confession. You are obliged to confess
only mortal sins, since you can obtain forgiveness for your venial sins by
sacrifices and acts of charity. If you are in doubt about whether a sin is
mortal or venial, mention your doubt to the confessor. Remember also,
confession of venial sins is very helpful for avoiding sin and advancing toward
Necessary conditions for
a sin to be mortal:
- Serious Matter
- Sufficient Reflection
- Full Consent of the Will
- Have I ever deliberately failed to confess a past
serious sin, or have I willfully disguised or hidden such a sin?
Note: The deliberate concealing of a mortal sin invalidates
one´s confession and makes the person guilty of another mortal sin.
Remember that the confession is private under the Seal of Confession, i.e., it is a mortal sin for the priest to reveal the matter of one´s
confession to anyone else.
- Have I been guilty of irreverence for this sacrament by
failing to examine my conscience carefully?
- Have I failed to do the penance given to me by the
- Have I any habits of serious sin to confess first (e.g.
impurity, drunkenness, etc.)?
First Commandment: I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.
(Including sins against Faith, Hope and Charity)
- Have I neglected the knowledge of my faith as taught
in the catechism, such as the Apostles Creed, the Ten Commandments, the
Seven Sacraments, the Our Father, etc.?
- Have I deliberately doubted or denied any of the
teachings of the Church?
- Have I taken part in any non-Catholic worship?
- Am I a member of any non-Catholic religious
organization, secret society or anti-Catholic group?
- Have I knowingly read any heretical, blasphemous or
- Have I practiced any superstitions (such as horoscopes,
fortune telling, Ouija board, etc.)?
- Have I omitted religious duties or practices through
motives of human respect?
- Have I recommended myself daily to God?
- Have I been faithful to my daily prayers?
- Have I abused the Sacraments in any way? Received them
irreverently, e.g. Communion in the Hand without obeying the principles and
the 7 rules promulgated by Paul VI as binding in this matter?
- Have I made fun of God, Our Lady, the Saints, the
Church, the Sacraments, other holy things?
- Have I been guilty of great irreverence in church,
e.g., conversation, behavior, or dress?
- Have I been indifferent with regard to my Catholic
Faith believing one can be saved in any religion, that all religions are
- Have I presumed on God´s mercy at any time?
- Have I despaired of God´s mercy?
- Have I hated God?
- Have I given too much importance to any creature,
activity, object or opinion?
Second Commandment: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in
- Have I sworn by Gods name falsely, rashly or in
slight and trivial matters?
- Have I murmured or complained against God (blasphemy)?
- Have I cursed myself or others, or any creature?
- Have I angered others so as to make them swear or
- Have I broken a vow made to God?
Third Commandment: Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.
- Have I missed Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of
- Have I been late for Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of
obligation or left early through my own fault?
- Have I made others miss Mass on Sundays or Holy Days
of obligation, leave early or be late for Mass?
- Have I been willfully distracted during Mass?
- Have I done or commanded unnecessary servile work on
Sunday or Holy Days of Obligation?
- Have I bought or sold things not of necessity on Sunday
and Holy Days of obligation?
Fourth Commandment: Honor thy father and thy mother.
- Have I been disobedient or disrespectful to my
parents, or have I neglected or refused to aid them in their wants or to do
their last will?
- Have I shown irreverence to others in positions of
- Have I maligned or insulted priests or others
consecrated to God?
- Have I failed in due reverence to aged persons?
- Have I mistreated my spouse or my children?
- Have I been disobedient or disrespectful to my
- Regarding my children:
Have I neglected their material needs?
Have I failed
to care for their early baptism? *(See below.)
Have I failed to care for
their proper religious education?
Have I allowed them to neglect their
Have I allowed them to date/go steady without the
prospect of marriage within the near future? (St. Alphonsus says 1 year
Have I failed to supervise the company they keep?
failed to discipline them when they need it?
Have I given them a bad
Have I scandalized them by arguing with my spouse in front of my
Have I scandalized them by cursing or swearing in front of them?
Have I guarded modesty in the home?
Have I permitted them to wear
immodest clothing (mini skirts; tight pants, dresses, or sweaters; see-through
blouses, short-shorts, revealing swim suits, etc.)?
Have I denied
their freedom to marry or follow a religious vocation?
be baptized as soon as possible. Apart from particular diocesan prescriptions,
it appears to be the general view
that an infant should be baptized
within about a week or ten days after birth. Many Catholics defer Baptism for a
fortnight or a little over. The view that Baptism should be administered within
three days after birth is considered too strict. St. Alphonsus, following
common opinion, thought that a delay, without reason, beyond ten or eleven days
would be a grievous sin. In view of modern custom, which is known and not
corrected by local Ordinaries, a delay beyond a month without reason would be a
serious sin. If there is no probable danger to the child, parents cannot be
convicted of serious sin if they defer Baptism a little beyond three weeks at
the outside, but the practice of having an infant baptized within about a week
or ten days of birth is to be strongly commended, and indeed an earlier date
may be rightly recommended. H. Davis, S.J., Moral and Pastoral
Theology, Vol. III, pg. 65, Sheed and Ward, New York 1935
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Fifth Commandment: Thou shalt not kill.
- Have I procured, desired, or hastened the death or
bodily injury of anyone?
- Have I borne hatred?
- Have I oppressed anyone?
- Have I desired revenge?
- Have I caused enmity between others?
- Have I quarreled or fought with anyone?
- Have I wished evil on anyone?
- Have I intended or attempted to injure or mistreat
- Is there anyone with whom I refuse to speak, or
against whom I bear a grudge?
- Have I taken pleasure in anyones misfortunes?
- Have I been jealous or envious of anyone?
- Have I had or attempted to have an abortion or
counseled anyone else to do so?
- Have I mutilated my body unnecessarily in any
- Have I entertained thoughts of suicide, desired to
commit suicide or attempted suicide?
- Have I become drunk, used illicit drugs?
- Have I overeaten or do I neglect to eat properly,
i.e., nutritious foods?
- Have I failed to correct in Charity?
- Have I harmed anyones soul, especially children,
by giving scandal through bad example?
- Have I harmed my own soul by intentionally and without
necessity exposing it to temptations, e.g.: bad TV, bad music, beaches,
Sixth and Ninth
Commandments: Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou
shalt not covet thy neighbor´s wife.
- Have I denied my spouse his or her marriage rights?
- Have I practiced birth control (by pills, devices,
- Have I abused my marriage rights in any other way?
- Have I committed adultery or fornication (premarital
- Have I committed any unnatural sin against purity
(homosexuality or lesbianism, etc.)?
- Have I touched or embraced another impurely?
- Have I engaged in prolonged or passionate
- Have I engaged in petting?
- Have I sinned impurely by myself (masturbation)?
- Have I entertained or taken pleasure in impure
- Have I indulged in lustful desires for anyone, or
willfully desired to see or do anything impure?
- Have I willfully indulged in any sexual pleasure
whether complete or incomplete?
- Have I been an occasion of sin for others by wearing
tight or otherwise revealing and immodest clothing?
- Have I done anything to provoke or occasion impure
thoughts or desires in others deliberately or through carelessness?
- Have I read indecent literature or looked at bad
- Have I watched suggestive movies, TV programs, or
Internet pornography or permitted my children to do so?
- Have I used indecent language or told indecent
- Have I willingly listened to such stories?
- Have I boasted of my sins or taken delight in past
- Have I been in lewd company?
- Have I consented to impure glances?
- Have I neglected to control my imagination?
- Have I prayed at once to banish such bad thoughts and
- Have I avoided laziness, gluttony, idleness, and the
occasions of impurity?
- Have I attended immodest dances or indecent
- Have I unnecessarily remained alone in the company of
someone of the opposite sex?
Note Well: Do not be afraid to
tell the priest any impure sin you may have committed. Do not hide or try to
disguise any such sin. The priest is there to help you and forgive you. Nothing
you say will shock him, so do not be afraid, no matter how ashamed you might
Seventh and Tenth Commandments: Thou shalt not
steal. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor´s goods.
- Have I stolen anything? What or how much?
- Have I damaged anyones property?
- Have I negligently spoiled anyone´s property?
- Have I been negligent in the stewardship of other
peoples money or goods?
- Have I cheated or defrauded others?
- Have I gambled excessively?
- Have I refused or neglected to pay any debts?
- Have I acquired anything known to be stolen?
- Have I failed to return things borrowed?
- Have I cheated my employer of an honest days
- Have I cheated my employees of their wages?
- Have I refused or neglected to help anyone in urgent
- Have I failed to make restitution for my stealing,
cheating and frauds? (Ask the priest how to go about making restitution,
that is, returning to the owner what you unjustly took from him/her.)
- Have I been envious of another because I don´t
have what he has?
- Have I been jealous of what another has?
- Have I been stingy?
- Have I been grasping and avaricious, placing too great
importance upon material goods and comforts? Is my heart set on earthly
possessions or on the true treasures of Heaven?
Eighth Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
- Have I lied about anyone (calumny)?
- Have my lies caused them any material or spiritual
- Have I rashly judged anyone (i.e. believed firmly,
without sufficient evidence, that they are guilty of some moral defect or
- Have I injured the good name of another by revealing
true but hidden faults (detraction)?
- Have I disclosed another´s sins?
- Have I been guilty of talebearing, (i.e. reporting
something unfavorable said of someone by another so as to create enmity between
- Have I lent an ear to or encouraged the spreading of
scandal about my neighbor?
- Have I taken false oaths or signed false
- Am I, without necessity, critical, negative or ever
uncharitable in my talk?
- Have I flattered others?
The Spiritual and Corporal Works of
Have I neglected to do the following whem circumstances
The Seven Spiritual Works of Mercy
1. To admonish sinners. 2. To instruct the ignorant. 3. To
counsel the doubtful.
4. To comfort the sorrowful. 5. To bear wrongs
patiently. 6. To forgive all injuries. 7. To pray for the living and the
The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy
1. To feed the hungry. 2. To give drink to the thirsty. 3.
To clothe the naked.
4. To visit and ransom the captives. 5. To harbor the
harborless. 6. To visit the sick. 7. To bury the dead?
Remember our Holy Catholic Faith teaches us that
as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is
dead. (James, 2:26)
The Seven Deadly Sins and the Opposite
- Envy............................................................Brotherly love
Five Effects of Pride
- Vainglory: a. Boasting b. Dissimulation / Duplicity
- Contempt for others
- Anger / Revenge / Resentment
- Stubbornness / Obstinacy.
Nine Ways of Being an Accessory to Another´s Sin
a.Have I knowingly caused others to sin?
b.Have I co-operated in the sins of others:
- By counsel.
- By command.
- By consent.
- By provocation.
- By praise or flattery.
- By concealment.
- By partaking.
- By silence.
- By defense of the ill done?
The Four Sins which Cry to Heaven for Vengeance
- Willful Murder.
- The sin of Sodomy or Lesbianism.
- Oppression of the poor.
- Defrauding the laborer of his just wages.
The Six Commandments of the Church
- Have I heard Mass on Sundays and holy days of
- Have I fasted and abstained on the days appointed and
have I kept the Eucharistic fast?
- Have I confessed at least once a year?
- Have I received the Holy Eucharist at least once in
- Have I contributed as far as I must to the support of
- Have I observed the laws of the Church concerning
Marriage, i.e.: Marriage without a priest present, or marrying a relative or
The Five Blasphemies
Against the Immaculate Heart of Mary
- Have I blasphemed against the Immaculate
- Have I blasphemed against Our Lady´s Perpetual
- Have I blasphemed against Our Lady´s Divine
Maternity? Have I failed to recognize Our Lady as the Mother of all men?
- Have I publicly sought to sow in the hearts of
children indifference or scorn, or even hatred, of this Immaculate Mother?
- Have I outraged Her directly in Her Holy images?
Have I received Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin?
(This is a very grave sacrilege.)
St. Anthony Mary Claret´s
Examination of Venial Sins
The soul should avoid all venial sins, especially those
which pave the way for grave sin. It is not enough, my soul, to have a firm
resolve to suffer death rather than consent to any grave sin. It is necessary
to have a like resolution to venial sin. He who does not find in himself this
will, cannot have security. There is nothing which can give us such a certain
security of eternal salvation as an uninterrupted cautiousness to avoid even
the lightest venial sin, and a notable, all-extensive earnestness reaching to
all practices of the spiritual life earnestness in prayer, and in
dealing with God; earnestness in mortification and self-denial; earnestness in
being humble and in accepting contempt; earnestness in obeying and renouncing
ones own self-will; earnest love of God and neighbor. He who wants to
gain this earnestness and keep it, must necessarily have the resolve to always
avoid especially the following venial sins:
- The sin of giving entrance into your heart to any
unreasonable suspicion or unfair judgment against your neighbor.
- The sin of introducing talk about anothers
defects or offending charity in any other way, even lightly.
- The sin of omitting out of laziness our spiritual
practices or of performing them with voluntary neglect.
- The sin of having a disordered affection for somebody.
- The sin of having a vain esteem for oneself, or of
taking vain satisfaction in things pertaining to us.
- The sin of receiving the holy Sacraments in a careless
way, with distractions and other irreverences, and without a serious
- . Impatience, resentment, any failure to accept
disappointments as coming from Gods Hand; for this puts obstacles in the
way of the decrees and dispositions of Divine Providence concerning us.
- The sin of giving ourselves an occasion that can even
remotely blemish a spotless condition of holy purity.
- The fault of advertently hiding from those who ought
to learn them, ones bad inclinations, weaknesses, and mortifications,
seeking to pursue the road of virtue not under the direction of obedience, but
under the guidance of ones own whims.
speaks of times when we might have worthy direction if we seek it, but we
prefer to follow our own dim lights.
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.
A Final Note
confess your sins with supernatural sorrow as well as a firm resolution not to
sin again, and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Ask your confessor to help
you with any difficulties you have in making a good confession. Say your
An Act of Contrition
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
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