These are only a few things. Don’t limit yourself to this list. And remember, you know sin first of all by comparing yourself with the Standard of Goodness and Kindness, Mary’s Son, Jesus. You do this by accepting His invitation, in His grace, to do this. Spend some minutes just before the Lord, heart to Heart. Then examine your conscience. Here’s a brief overview, using the ten commandments with the precepts of the Church and lists of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. There are also sins of ommission, especially as pointed out by the latter lists of the works of mercy, no?
(1) Have I failed to pray? Do I participate in the sacraments regularly? Have things and events been more important than my obligations towards God? Was I irreverent in Church? Have I received Holy Communion while in mortal sin? Have I neglected being Confirmed? Do I study and promote the Catholic Church? Have I been willingly bitter against God? Have I rejected any teachings of the Church? Have I despaired? Have I been superstitious, even using astrology, fortune tellers, horoscopes, occult “games”? Have I taken undue pride in myself or my accomplishments? Have I supported the Church? Have I fasted and abstained on the appointed days?
(2) Have I used God’s name in vain or cursed others. Have I blasphemed God, or have I provoked others to blaspheme God? Have I mocked the saints or anything sacred?
(3) Have I kept the Lord’s day and the Holy Days of Obligation sacred? Have I missed Mass on these days without a serious reason? Have I done unnecessary labor on Sundays? According to my circumstances, have I spent time with my family or friends in recreation on the Lord’s day?
(4) Have I respected and obeyed my parents and other superiors? Have I helped them in time of need? Have I dealt well with those who are under my authority? Have I seen to the religious education of my children or given bad example to them? Have I violated any just laws?
(5) Have I committed violence against myself (including, for instance, sterilization)? Have I hated others, or held a grudge? Have I taken or desired revenge against others? Have I taken or sold drugs, abused alcohol, been gluttonous? Have I endangered the lives of others by carelessness (for instance, by reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, etc.)? Have I fought with others? Have I been impatient? Have I attempted suicide. Have I committed murder, been an accomplice to murder, or wilfully desired someone’s improvident death? Have I committed, attempted, approved of, promoted or helped in an abortion, a suicide, or act of so-called euthanasia? [Note that so-called contraceptives like Plan B, Ella, RU-486, any morning-after-pill, and others, including injections, implants (such as Norplant, etc.) have abortifacient effects and can be murderous of unborn children. Also note that anyone using the “Pill” in order to “regulate” one’s cycle must refrain from marital relations because of both contraceptive and abortifacient “side effects.” Note that IVF (in-vitro-fertilization) usually kills very many children who are simply discarded or forever frozen or are used for experimentation. IVF is also wrong because the loss of the unitive aspect of the act of marriage.]
(6 & 9) Have I observed the marriage laws of the Church? Am I using contraceptives? Am I using Natural Family Planning for selfish reasons? Have I denied conjugal rights to my spouse without good reason (sickness, etc.)? Have I committed adultery, fornication, self-abuse, homosexual acts, etc.? Have I done things which obviously belong only in marriage, where the proper consummation of such activity can take place? Have I given scandal to children or others? Have I dressed immodestly? Have I kept bad company? Have I put myself, my children, or others in a proximate occasion of sin by using, selling, or providing obscene books, magazines, films, videos, TV programs or internet sites? Have I purposely dwelt on impure thoughts? Do I make use of filthy language, sexual innuendoes, or tell immoral jokes or stories?
(7) Did I steal anything? [The priest may require restitution in one way or another, if that is possible. Try to do any restitution you know you must do before coming to Confession. You must bear the fruits of your repentance after all!] Have I destroyed another’s property? Have I wilfully gone into debt with no means of payment? Have I refused to help the poor when I was able, or have I, instead, been overly jealous of my goods, egotistically keeping everything for myself? Have I cheated others? Have I paid employees promptly and justly, and given them proper working conditions? Do I cheat my employer by not working diligently? Have I been selfish? Have I misused the talents God has given me? Have I been lazy? Have I strengthened and supported the Church, for instance, my parish, the missions, the Holy Father, charitable works?
(8) Have I lied? Did I make rash judgments, been suspicious, or unduly critical of others? Have I hurt others reputation by word or deed in detraction (if it was something that did not need to be said) or slander (if it was a lie)? Have I tried to repair the good name of someone whom I seriously hurt in this way? Have I perjured myself, or committed fraud?
(10) Have I been envious of my neighbor’s goods, always wanting what someone else has instead of trusting the providence of God and using the talents that I do have to the best of my ability?
The corporal works of mercy
Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, bury the dead.
The spiritual works of mercy
Admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive all injuries, pray for the living and the dead.
The obligation of Confession
It is obligatory to go to confess any grave sins in kind and number (including important circumstances), once a year, as an absolute minimum. Having said that, the Church highly recommends frequent confession, once a month or fortnightly, even if one has not committed any mortal sins since one’s last confession. If one falls into mortal sin, one should seek absolution as soon as possible. The sacrament grants forgiveness through sanctifying grace, i.e., God’s gift of charity, which gives us strength to remain and grow in God’s friendship.
FOR THE USUAL PARTICIPATION IN CONFESSION ONE NEEDS:
(1) To make an examination of conscience
Sometimes it helps to compare one’s life with the virtues, one’s duties in life, the ten commandments, the precepts of the Church, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and so on. One should keep in mind that sin is not only wrought with wilfully evil thoughts, words, or deeds, but also with any omission of something which we really ought to have done. One has to know something is a sin and will this with sufficient reflection.
(2) To make an act of contrition
This sorrow is expressed imperfectly though sufficiently by some who, because of their sins, fear the loss of heaven and the pains of hell. The Church urges us to have perfect contrition, i.e., truly being sorry through an act of charity, of love for God and neighbor.
(3) To have a firm purpose of amendment.
As with a true act of contrition, this amendment of life excludes the sin of presumption, that is, presuming that we can chose to sin because we think God will forgive us no matter what. God forgives those who are humble and contrite.
(4) To confess any serious sins according to their kind, number of times committed, and any grave circumstances.
This is called an integral confession. A sacrilegious confession takes place when, in normal circumstances, graves sins are not confessed, or not all of them. Confessing “I cheated” is not sufficient if the reference is to frequent adultery which has caused a divorce and much suffering to any children. Venial, or less serious sins, may also be confessed. It is not obligatory to mention all venial sins. The fact of a scrilegious confession also must be confessed.
(5) To perform the penance which the priest gives you.
This could consist of prayer, an act of charity, or some type of mortification such as fasting.
A note on general absolution
Absolutions granted to groups of people without individual confession and no intention to confess individually are invalid. To instruct people otherwise is a grave injustice. People are obliged to confess their sins since their last good Confession in an individual confession. If you’ve been going to General Absolutions, you have to confess any grave sins in individual confession.
Procedure in the confessional
Let the priest know how long it has been since your last confession and what your state in life is (single, married, a religious or priest). Then, after mentioning your sins, the priest may offer you some spiritual advice, will tell you the penance you are to carry out, and should ask you to say an act of contrition. The priest will then recite the absolution for the forgiveness of your sins.
An Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all of my sins, because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.
The Seal of Confession
There are priests who have been put to death for not breaking the confidentiality of the confessional called the Seal of Confession. Others have been tortured, thrown into prison, denounced, slandered, and so on. What is said in Confession cannot be used by the priest in any way. Jesus has us go to Confession to Him before a priest to let us know that we are reconciled both to God and the Church.
Some other advice: Be Clear, Concise, Contrite, Complete (the four “C s”).
Some other advice: Click on this blog’s category: CONFESSION