"And behold some of the scribes said within themselves: He blasphemeth. And
Jesus seeing their thoughts, said: Why do you think evil in your hearts?
Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee: or to say, Arise,
and walk? But that you may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to
forgive sins, (then said he to the man sick of palsy,) Arise, take up thy
bed, and go into thy house. And he arose, and went into his house. And the
multitude seeing it, feared, and glorified God that gave such power to
John 20:19-23 "Now when it was late that same day, the first of the week,
and the doors were shut, where the disciples were gathered together, for
fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them: Peace
be to you. And when he had said this, he shewed them his hands and his side.
The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. He said therefore
to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.
When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive
ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them;
and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained."
"The tears of the penitents are wine for the angels." -- St.
The Sacrament of Penance is such a gift! It can be very hard to do -- it
can be intimidating, embarrassing -- but once absolution is given, you will
walk out of that confessional feeling like a trillion bucks. Christ, in His
most Holy Wisdom, gave us this precious Sacrament to literally and truly
bestow His grace upon us through His priests as a means of forgiving
us and assuring us of His mercy and love for us. This psychological
benefit of "feeling assured" and "clean again" stems not only from the
supernatural fruits of the Sacrament, but from our human nature and our need
to purge ourselves of those things that plague our consciences. Christ, the
Great Physician, knows us well and knows that "confession is good for the
soul," in both a supernatural and psychological sense. As G.K. Chesterton
When a Catholic
comes from confession, he does truly, by definition, step out into that dawn
of his own beginning... in that brief ritual God has really remade him in
His own image. He may be grey and gouty; but he is only five minutes
I have talked to
many people who've been terrified to go to Confession; all I can say is be
a brave soldier and buck up and "just do it." Christ Himself wants this of
you, so just resolve to do the right thing. Millions of Catholics
over the course of 2,000 years have braved the "little dark box" (at least
metaphorically; though Confession has been around since Day 1, the Confessional is a 7th. century Irish gift to the Church); you can,
too. Priests have heard it all, trust me, and nothing you say can ever be repeated to anyone in any way that could identify you -- not to the
police, not to another priest, not to anyone (a priest is automatically excommunicated if he were to violate the Seal of Confession)!
And if you're worried because you're "new at this," that's okay! It's okay
to be nervous, it's okay to be afraid because this is something new and different
to you. And it's okay to tell the priest how you feel. Just let him know
it's your first Confession; he will put you at ease and help you through
it and be so glad you've come to receive the graces our Lord wants to pour
out on you!
It's not as scary as it seems to so many people. Really. But if you're still
afraid, take a deep breath, pray for strength, go to Confession and receive
His wonderful mercy! You will not regret it, I promise you!
If you've just been validly baptized, you don't need Confession, because Baptism wipes
away all guilt of sin (and the temporal effects of sin, by the way). If,
however, you were validly baptized years ago and are just now coming to this
Sacrament for the first time, you might want to schedule an appointment with
your priest to make what's known as a "General Confession," which includes
sins of one's entire life, since it might take a bit longer than usual (do
the same if you are a returning Catholic and haven't been to Confession for
many, many years). "General Confessions" are also often made before before
marriage or ordination.
How to Go to Confession
The steps to Confession
- Examination of
Conscience (detailed procedure at bottom of page)
- the actual confessing
of your sins to God through His priests
- the assigning of
- Act of Contrition
- carrying out your
I will go through
each of these in detail below.
1. Examination of Conscience
Before we get to
the church, we mentally review our sins and determine what needs to be confessed.
There are various methods of doing this, but one good way is to consider
your Duties to God, Church, family, society and to yourself to see where
you've failed to honor them. A detailed way of doing this is provided in
the "What to Confess: a guide to Examination of
Conscience" section at the bottom of the page.
A Catholic is required to go to Confession once a year (during Lent)
and also at any time of the year he has mortal sin on his soul (is
"not in a state of grace"), especially if he desires to receive the Eucharist.
But weekly -- at least monthly -- Confessions are encouraged.
The Sacrament is usually offered before Mass (see parish or chapel bulletin,
parish website, or call your parish's office), at least on weekends. You
can also call your priest to set up an appointment for the Sacrament (for
"just reason" only, you have the option of receiving the Sacrament face to
face, outside of the Confessional, but this is not standard and should not
be treated as though it is). Be warned, though, that because of the Modernism
attacking the Church, many Novus Ordo priests treat this Sacrament as, at
best, "a little chat" (especially in the too common "face to face" confessions)
or, worse, as nothing at all and so simply don't offer it frequently enough
or allow only 15 minutes for the Confessions of an entire parish before Mass.
Some fail to follow the proper form so as to render your Confession invalid!
The solution to these problems is: find another parish or a chapel with a
traditional priest and traditional Mass. Fast.
What Penance is: it is the Sacramental pardoning of the eternal effects
of our sins for which we are truly contrite. It is effected by Christ, Who
paid their eternal wages with His Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension, through
His priests using proper form. Through the Sacrament, Christ gives us not
only forgiveness, but grace to remain steadfast.
What Penance is not: psychotherapy. While the priest may give you
some direction and advice in the Confessional, if you have general problems
or spiritual issues you want to discuss, you should set an appointment to
talk with him. This is especially true at a Confession before Mass where
people are in line behind you and time is short.
Contrition is willful regret for one's sins. It isn't a matter of one's "feelings"
of guilt, but of conviction of the evil of sin and the resolution to sin
no more. In other words, contrition is rooted in the will, not in the emotions.
For example, some people are more emotional than others: some get a case
of the "scruples" and feel shame or guilt over any little thing, whether
it's sin or not; others can have committed murder and never "wallow" in guilt
but are still truly contrite. The one is not necessarily more "holy" or making
a better Confession than the other. What matters is their conviction -- their
will to offend God no more, and their resolution to make reparations as far
as possible, do their penance, and patiently bear the temporal effects of
their sins. Without contrition, Confession is not valid.
"Imperfect Contrition" (also called "attrition") is regret out of fear of
God's just punishments for sin; "Perfect Contrition" is regret for having
offended God. We must always strive for the latter, which always absolves
sin in itself if it is coupled with the will to also receive the
One of the keys to confession is the desire to be rid of all of one's sins.
If this is your will, if this is your desire, if you are willing to confess
all of your sins and do your penance and resolve to sin no more, then your
sins will be forgiven -- all of them, even those you may have truly forgotten about. But don't kid yourself, either, and think you can skip
mentioning this sin or that one because you're embarrassed. Don't lie to
yourself, to your priest, or to God, by omission.
3. Confessing Your Sins
to God through His priests
When the Sacrament
is typically offered: before Masses, Saturday afternoons, and by appointment.
When you get to the church at the time the Sacrament is offered, you may
or may not find a line of people standing or lined up in a pew outside the
Confessional. Just take your place in line, keeping a wide berth of the
Confessional itself if it is occupied by a fellow penitent. Please note that
it is very rude to be near the Confessional when someone else is using it!
Though I've never overheard anyone in the Confessional, it could feasibly
happen. If this were to happen, the one who overhears should take all steps
to not hear, and should never, ever repeat anything he might have heard.
Some confessionals have a green light shining when a priest is ready and
available in the Confessional, and a red light shining when someone is in
the Confessional with him, receiving the Sacrament. Others don't. In any
case, when it's your turn, enter the Confessional and kneel. You may barely
see the priest on the other side of the grille (the screen which separates
When you are ready to begin, make the Sign of the Cross and say, in a whisper, but loud enough so he can hear you:
Bless me, Father,
for I have sinned. It is (X days, weeks, months, years) since my last Confession.
I accuse myself of the following sins.
You then name the
sins you need to confess, indicating, in the case of mortal sins, how many
times you've committed them. If you're unsure of exact numbers -- but only
if you are unsure -- tell him "about how many" times you've committed the
sin. Ex., "I've lied to my mother twice, I stole a candy bar from work once,
I've had lustful thoughts too many times to count, etc."
Don't go into a lot of detail, don't name other people who may have sinned
with you, but do tell him what he needs to know in order to understand relevant
circumstances of the particular sins -- that is, circumstances that might
mitigate your culpability or make you more culpable. For example, telling
him about stealing a loaf of bread because you were starving will elicit
a different penance and spiritual direction than if you tell him you stole
a stack of money because you wanted to buy some porn. If you are unsure as
to whether a particular act was a sin, tell him. As you speak, he may stop
you to ask you questions for clarification.
When you are finished, indicate so by saying something like the following
For these and all
the sins of my past life, I ask pardon of God, penance, and absolution from
Don't panic if
you later recall sins you forgot to confess: remember that if you were willing
to confess them but simply forgot, they are forgiven if you will to
confess them the next time you go.
Now the priest
will give you penance to help you pay for the temporal effects of your sins.
He might ask you to say certain prayers (the old
"Say three Hail Marys"), he may ask you to read
certain parts of Scripture. If there is restitution to be made, he might
ask you to do so. Whatever he asks you to do, accomplish it as soon as possible
after leaving the Confessional.
5. Act of Contrition
Now you will make
an Act of Contrition to express your sorrow at having offended God and resolving
to sin no more. The traditional way of doing this is to recite aloud the
prayer called "Act of Contrition":
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 avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.
If you are comfortable
doing so, you may say the prayer in Latin:
Deus meus, ex toto
corde poenitet me omnium meorum peccatorum, eaque detestor, quia peccando,
non solum poenas a Te iuste statutas promeritus sum, sed praesertim quia
offendi Te, summum bonum, ac dignum qui super omnia diligaris. Ideo firmiter
propono, adiuvante gratia Tua, de cetero me non peccaturum peccandique occasiones
proximas fugiturum. Amen.
If you have a hard
time memorizing (which is OK!), you can pray aloud using your own words to
the same effect -- i.e., expressing your contrition for having displeased
God and resolving to sin no more and avoid the near occasions of sin -- but
you should try to memorize the traditional Act of Contrition and teach it
to your children. You can also have the prayer written out or on a Holy Card to carry with you in the Confessional.
(Note: a "near occasion of sin" is a situation in which you are likely to
sin. For ex., going to the mall might be a "near occasion of sin" for a
kleptomaniac who hasn't learned to control his behavior; keeping company
alone with a girl he is extremely attracted to in a sexual way might be a
near occasion of sin for a man, etc.)
Now comes the good
part (it may come as you make your Act of Contrition, so don't be
confused if the priest starts whispering in Latin as you pray): Christ, through His priest, grants you absolution in a form
that includes the words below. Without the words in italics (the very
form of the Sacrament), the Sacrament is not valid:
Jesus Christus te absolvat; et ego auctoritate ipsius te absolvo ab omni
vinculo excommunicationis (sespensionis) et interdicti in quantum possum
et tu indiges. [making the Sign of the Cross:] Deinde, ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and the resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and sent the Holy Spirit among us
for the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
He will pray a
prayer for you:
Passio Domini nostri
Jesu Christi, merita Beatae Mariae Virginis et omnium sanctorum, quidquid
boni feceris vel mail sustinueris sint tibi in remissionem peccatorum, augmentum
gratiae et praemium vitae aeternae.
May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the Blessed Virgin
Mary and of all the saints obtain for you that whatever good you do or whatever
evil you bear might merit for you the remission of your sins, the increase
of grace and the reward of everlasting life.
The Sacrament is now complete. The priest will dismiss you, perhaps with
a final blessing. Thank him, and
leave the Confessional.
7. Carrying out your Penance
As soon as possible,
carry out the penance you were given. Do all you can to avoid near occasions
of sin, to bear patiently the temporal effects of the sins you've committed,
to make restitution to anyone you've harmed. You may add penances of your
own devising to the one(s) the priest gave you.
"sample confession" so you can see how
easily it all goes)
Rejoice and be
grateful! Consider what has been done for you! Savor the sweet knowledge
that you are forgiven. Praise the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God
Who takes away the sins of the world! He has said the word, and you have
Now you must imitate Christ by forgiving others as you have been forgiven:
Thus therefore shall you pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be
thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our supersubstantial bread. And forgive us our debts, as
we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation. But deliver
us from evil. Amen. For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly
Father will forgive you also your offences. But if you will not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive you your offences.
Consider the Parable of the Unmerciful
Then came Peter unto him and said: Lord, how often shall my brother offend
against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith to him: I say
not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times. Therefore
is the kingdom of heaven likened to a king, who would take an account of
his servants. And when he had begun to take the account, one was brought
to him, that owed him ten thousand talents. And as he had not wherewith to
pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children
and all that he had, and payment to be made.
But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me,
and I will pay thee all. And the lord of that servant being moved with pity,
let him go and forgave him the debt. But when that servant was gone out,
he found one of his fellow servants that owed him an hundred pence: and laying
hold of him, throttled him, saying: Pay what thou owest. And his fellow servant
falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay
thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he paid
Now his fellow servants seeing what was done, were very much grieved, and
they came and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him;
and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because
thou besoughtest me: Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy
fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee? And his lord being angry,
delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. So also shall
my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from
Think of those
against whom you hold grudges. Consider vengeful feelings you might have,
or any petty ways you strike back at or undermine others. Make peace with
those you've wronged; forgive those who've wronged you. This doesn't mean
to be stupid, to "forget" that you've been wronged, or to allow yourself
to be abused. It means simply letting go of anger and vengeance, and praying
that the evil-doers stop doing their evil and come to Christ.
One other way the grace
of the Sacrament of Penance may be received
As indicated above,
perfect contrition absolves sin in itself. Thus, if one is sorry for one's
sins but is trapped on a desert island without a priest, one needn't fear
being damned if unable to confess in the normal way. We are bound
by the Sacraments; God is not, and has many ways of pouring out His
grace to us!
Perfect contrition, though, includes the desire to obey God and not offend
Him further -- and God wants us to confess our sins to a priest. Therefore,
if one can, one must go to Confession if there is a mortal
sin to confess, or at least once a year. If one is unable to confess
in the normal way, but would confess in the normal way if it were
possible, then merciful God provides.
Notes and Tidbits on Confession
The rose is a symbol
for many things in Christianity (Mary, Mystery, Paradise, martyrdom), the
seal of the Confessional among them. The ancient Romans believed that Cupid
-- the Roman god of love -- gave a rose to Harpocrates as a bribe for not
letting on what his mother Venus, the goddess of "love," was up to. Hence,
the rose became a symbol of confidentiality. This symbolism carried over
into Christianty, and the doors of Confessionals are sometimes decorated
with the rose. From these Roman and Christian associations comes the phrase
"sub rosa" -- "under the rose," meaning "secretly" or "confidentially."
such as is given in "communal penance services" in which a priest "absolves"
an entire group of their sins is highly illicit unless it is a serious emergency
(you're all on the Titanic, you're a group of soldiers getting ready to go
into battle, etc.) If you are in a group that receives such an "absolution,"
you are still required to go to individual Confession if it is at all
If, for serious
and just reason, you need to make a Confession to a priest outside of a
Confessional, kneel and carry on as above. The priest might lay his stole
on your shoulder as you confess.
Confession of venial sins to laymen is a sacramental and has the same
power to remit sins as does the use of such things as Holy
Water. The practice is also healing to human relationships, so if you've
sinned against someone, confess your sorrow to him in addition to confessing
to your priest! There is a beautiful Lenten custom practiced before going
to see the priest for Lenten Confession: one bows before each member of the
household and to any one has sinned against, and says, "In the Name of Christ,
forgive me if I've offended you." The one being asked for forgiveness responds
with "God will forgive you." This lovely practice doesn't have to be for
For inspiration, read how Christ forgives from the Cross (Luke 23:33-34),
the story of Mary Magdalen,
the Parable of The Two Debtors (Luke 7:36-50),
and the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke
15:11-32). See also St. Ephraem's "Homily
on the Sinful Woman."
What to Confess?
A guide to Examination of Conscience
I John 5:16-17:
He that knoweth his brother to sin a sin which is not to death, let him ask:
and life shall be given to him who sinneth not to death. There is a sin unto
death. For that I say not that any man ask. All iniquity is sin. And there
is a sin unto death.
As said above,
one only needs to confess mortal sins ("sins unto death"), so a good
grasp of what this means is imperative. For a sin to be mortal, it has to
meet three conditions:
- grave matter: does it involve breaking one of the 10
Commandments, committing one of the Sins that
Cry out to Heaven, or failing to uphold the 6
Precepts of the Church?
knowledge: did you know or should you have known that the act
consent: was your consent to this act sufficiently deliberate so as to
be a choice? Were conditions present that influenced your ability to choose?
If you are unclear
as to whether a sin meets all of the requirements above for a mortal sin,
be safe and confess it, telling the priest of your lack of clarity.
As to venial sins (sins that don't meet the above requirements), you are
free to confess them or not. Confessing them is definitely encouraged,
but do be mindful of the priest's time and the time others need who may be
standing in line behind you. If your Confession is before Mass, time is running
short before Mass begins, there is a long line behind you, and you are wanting
to confess venial sins only, you might want to hold off so that others who
might have mortal sins to confess can see the priest before Mass starts.
If you are plagued by feelings of "not being forgiven" or being "unworthy"
of the Sacrament of Penance, don't confess venial sins that you are doubtful
about lest you find yourself with a
case of "the scruples." A "scrupulous"
person is one who has "an unfounded apprehension and consequently unwarranted
fear that something is a sin which, as a matter of fact, is not" (Catholic
Encyclopedia). This doesn't refer to isolated incidents, but to a habitual
way of feeling or thinking, an unwarranted fear, a sort of emotional obsession;
it doesn't refer to true questions as to whether such and such a behavior
is a sin or not. Anxiety is involved, and often a felt doubt as to the power
of confession, the genuine-ness one's contrition, and the extent of God's
mercy. If you have a good, orthodox Confessor, trust him and his advice,
and tell him about any scruples you needlessly suffer from; he may be able
to help you! And pray to St. Alphonsus Liguori, the great moral theologian
who suffered from scruples himself and is now the patron saint of the
Below are some questions to ask yourself regarding our duties in life, the
answers to which might help you in examining your conscience and deciding
what to confess. At least, the answers might help you to know where to focus
your energies so you can become a better servant of God:
to God and to Church:
Do I love God with
all my heart, soul, mind, and strength?
Have I given God
the honor and time that is His due?
Do I pray?
Do I express my gratitude to God?
Does something or someone -- a material thing, a person, a behavior,
an attitude -- come between me and God?
Have I used God's Name as a curse word or cursed God?
Have I broken promises,
oaths, or vows to God?
Have I failed to treat sacred things and places with respect?
Have I received
the Eucharist while not in a state of grace?
Have I kept Sunday holy by attending Mass and refraining from servile
Have I lied to
a priest during the Sacrament of Penance or intentionally failed to confess
a sin I should have confessed?
Have I defended God and His Church when it was necessary?
Do I study my faith,
according to my abilities, so I can defend the Church when necessary?
Do I properly value
the Church's disciplines and heritage?
Do I pray for the Holy Father and the Church, including those in
Have I experimented
with magic, the occult, spiritism, willful psychic phenomena, ouija boards,
Do I keep Sundays and Holy Days of obligation?
Have I failed to
go to Confession, at least once a year during Lent?
Have I failed to
do my Easter Duty (i.e., receive the Eucharist at least once during the Paschal
Have I failed to
follow the laws of fasting and abstinence?
Have I failed to
support the Church as my means allow?
Have I obeyed the
Church's marriage laws?
Do I belong to
a secret society such as Freemasonry, Skull and Bones, etc.?
Have I failed to perform my duties to my parents, spouse, or children
-- as (mother/ father, daughter/son, wife/husband) and as a Christian whose
duty it is to lead them to Christ and to pray for them and, if possible,
For husbands: Do I treat my wife with the respect and tenderness I
would give to Our Lady? Do I treat her as less than my queen, bride, and
friend? Do I strive to provide for her, protect her, and help her to feel
cherished and needed without condescension or treating her as a child? Do
I undermine her in her role as mother? Do I try to make her happy within
the boundaries of God's laws? Do I use my headship as an excuse for laziness,
cruelty, arrogance, or in any manner inconsistent with the way in which I
would treat Our Lady or the manner in which Christ treats His Church?
For wives: Do I treat my husband with less than the respect and tenderness
I would give to Christ? Do I treat him as less than my king, groom, and friend?
Do I strive to obey him, nurture him, and help him feel cherished and needed?
Do I undermine him in his role as father? Do I try to make him happy within
the boundaries of God's laws? Do I nag or provoke him?
Is Christ the King
of my household?
Do I pray for my
dead ancestors, family members, and friends, and for the souls of those in
Purgatory who have no one to pray for them?
Have I helped cause members of my family to sin?
Do I try my best
to empathize with the members of my family and to love them with a love grounded
Do the members of my family know they are loved? If not, is this
Have I caused any member of my family to get unrighteously angry
or to be unjustly hurt?
Have I failed to
apologize to and seek forgiveness from members of my family if there was
Have I forgiven
my parents, spouse or children for past faults?
Do I give my family my time and undivided attention when possible?
Do any of my habits -- spending habits, gambling, etc. -- deprive
my family of support?
Have I used
contraception and failed to keep my marital acts open to life? Have I used
N.F.P. (Natural Family Planning) for frivolous reasons?
Am I too lenient with my children? Do I set standards and boundaries?
Do I use fair, reasonable, and consistent discipline?
Am I too harsh with my children? Do I squelch the joy out of my
children's lives with needless rules, "Pharisaic" attitudes, a lack of mercy,
and an authoritarian -- as opposed to an authoritative -- approach to discipline?
Do I discipline them in a way that humiliates them?
Do my spouse and I sabotage each other with regard to disciplining
our children? Do I "force" my spouse to play the role of "mean parent" while
I play "nice parent"?
Have I been a good
example for my children and/or the children of others?
Do I have high enough and age-appropriate expectations of my
Do I over-praise or under-praise my children?
Do I prize goodness
and grace in my children above anything else I prize in them?
Do I teach my children the fullness of the Faith, encourage them
to pray to their Guardian Angels, to their patron Saints, and for the dead?
Do I protect my
children's innocence, inspire their imaginations, and do all I can to encourage
healthy curiosity and the ability to marvel by teaching them about God, His
Church, His creation, the lives of the Saints, etc., and by exposing them
to good books, music, and art?
Have I found a good balance between protecting my child's innocence
and teaching him about the world, in an age-appropriate way, so that he is
not ignorant and naive or made to feel stupid or ridiculous about himself
when in the company of those who are "of the world"? Have I given him good
weapons with which to fight the evils of the world while understanding and
nourishing his social needs?
Do I treat male
children and female children with equal dignity, with respect for their God-given
individual talents and vocations, but also with respect for Natural Law and
their God-given differences as male and female?
Do I allow my children appropriate expression of their emotions and
help them to understand and become masters of their negative emotions?
Do I help my children come to a humble, healthy, true sense of themselves
as children of God, as individuals with unique vocations, and as possessing
both virtues and faults?
Do I instill in my children a sense of duty to God, to family, to
others, and to themselves?
Do I nurture the
possibility of religious vocations in any of my children?
Have I taught my children good manners and to be aware of the needs
of the elderly, the infirm, the pregnant, the otherwise challenged?
Are my spouse and I consistent in our discipline of our
Do I love others as I love myself, with a love grounded in Truth?
Do I evangelize with prudence and intelligence, and without being
annoying and judgmental?
Do I pray for others, including those in authority and for my
Have I taken anything I had no right to take? Have I failed to return
anything I may have stolen in the past or otherwise make restitution?
Have I cheated anyone out of anything that is rightfully theirs?
Have I been honest
in business, including paying my employees a fair wage?
Do I treat my employees
or those I supervise with dignity, respect, and consideration? ~and/or~ Do
I give my employer his due and perform my job satisfactorily?
Do I treat service personnel (waitresses, waiters, clerks, busboys,
maids, doormen, etc.) with dignity, respect, and consideration, and without
condescension? Do I consider their time and feelings? Do I tip well, given
my means, in cultures where tipping is considered the norm and, in essence,
Have I engaged in illicit usury?
Have I given to the poor as my means allow?
Do I betray others'
secrets that I had no right to betray?
Have I spoken anything
untrue about another (calumny or slander) or, for no good reason,
said things that were true but maliciously or needlessly or unjustly
spoken and that were damaging to another's reputation (detraction)?
Do I engage in malicious gossip?
Do I make promises I do not intend to keep?
Have I cheated on tests or homework at school or otherwise plagiarized
the work of others?
Am I greedy and selfish?
Am I envious of
what others have?
Am I too materialistic?
Have I cursed another
(i.e., called down physical or moral evil on a rational creature, not for
the sake of a good, such as justice or punishment, but out of malice or for
If possible, if
candidates are available, do I vote responsibly, with the Kingship of Christ,
the dignity of human life, and the principle of subsidiarity in mind?
Given my station in life, my gifts, and vocation, do I care enough
for the sick, hungry, thirsty, poor, and imprisoned?
Do I show good
stewardship by treating the earth as God's creation?
Do I treat animals
with care and appreciation and refrain from needless cruelty toward them?
Do I show reasonable patriotism for my country (that is "country,"
not necessarily "government," and doesn't mean "blind patriotism")?
Do I use my God-given
talents in a wholesome way and for the benefit of others?
Am I mindful of how my behavior or passivity influences others and
conditions around me?
Do I love the sinner
while remaining truthful about sin?
Am I forgiving
to the contrite?
Have I nurtured unrighteous anger in my heart?
Am I vengeful?
Am I a good, reliable friend to others?
Do I exhibit any racist behaviors or hold any racist thoughts (i.e.,
thoughts and behaviors rooted in the idea that God's love and our love for
others is or should be conditioned by ideas of race or genetics)?
Have I murdered
anyone, including having an abortion, helping someone have an abortion, or
failing to do my best to encourage someone not to have an abortion (abortion
includes in vitro fertlization)? Have I participated in euthanasia? Have
I encouraged embryonic stem cell research? Have I encouraged unjust war?
Have I intentionally
and unjustly physically harmed someone?
Have I participated
in the sins of others by counseling them to sin, by commandmanding them to
sin, by consenting to their sin, by provoking them to sin, by praising or
flattering them in their sins, by concealing their sins that others have
a right to know about, by partaking in their sins, or by silence even when
the cause of charity demands I speak out?
Have I used alcohol or any other drug recreationally to to the point
where my judgment and will were affected?
Have I been chaste
according to my station in life (been faithful to my spouse, honored promises
or vows as a religious or priest, not engaged in fornication if unmarried,
Have I willfully
looked at pornography for no legitimate reason (e.g. law-enforcement) or
supported it financially?
Do I dress and behave immodestly or without concern for how my appearance
and behavior may lead others to the sin of lust?
Have I engaged in solitary sexual sins?
Have I engaged in homosexual/lesbian acts? Have I been kind and
charitable to those who are struggling to overcome homosexual/lesbian
Have I intentionally lusted after someone? (Note: random thoughts
that come to the mind are not sinful. My priest described them once in a
sermon as mere flies that should be shooed away. What is sinful is deliberately cultivating these thoughts, deliberately giving
them your salacious attention, etc. Know that many great Saints had thoughts
like these -- and even worse: it is quite common as one proceeds in holiness
for extremely blasphemous thoughts and thoughts of despair to flash in the mind. Shoo them away, and know that it is the Evil One trying
to make you feel hopeless. It is good at times like these to call on the
Name of Jesus and fall back on the short
aspirations to replace those thoughts with holy ones.)
Do I trust in God's mercy and love for me as a beloved child, or
do I wallow in guilt for sins I've been absolved of?
Am I too scrupulous and hard on myself, treating myself much more
harshly than I would others I love?
Am I too easy on
Am I honest with myself about my gifts and limitations?
Do I overestimate or underestimate my importance?
Do I treat myself
as an icon of God, made in His image?
Do I trust that God is in control or do I worry needlessly?
Am I able to appreciate
the fruits of His Goodness?
Do I stand up for myself and my wholesome needs?