The Sacrament of Penance: a path for Reconciliation

The Sacrament of Penance: a path for Reconciliation 2016-11-14T06:50:53+00:00

1. What is the fourth sacrament called?

The sacrament of confession receives different names that express its different aspects.

It is called the SACRAMENT OF CONVERSION because it makes sacramentally present Jesus’ call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed by sin.

It is also called the SACRAMENT OF PENANCE, since it consecrates the Christian sinner’s personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.

It is called the SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a “confession” – acknowledgment and praise – of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.

It is called the SACRAMENT OF FORGIVENESS, since by the priest’s sacramental absolution God grants the penitent pardon and peace.

It is called the SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION, because it imparts to the sinner the love of God who reconciles. At the same time it reconciles us with the Church, who has been wounded by our sins.

2. Why do I need to receive this sacrament?

It is because we are sinners. The apostle John says: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 Jn 1:8).” And the Lord himself taught us to pray: “Forgive us our trespasses (Lk 11:4),” linking our forgiveness of one another’s offenses to the forgiveness of our sins that God will grant us.

The new life we received the day of our Baptism has not abolished the frailty and weakness of our human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life. This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.

Jesus calls us to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel (Mk 1:15).” In the Church’s preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion. It is by faith in the Gospel and by Baptism that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life.

Christ’s call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians. This second conversion after Baptism is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, embracing sinners in her bosom, is at once holy and always in need of purification, and follows constantly the path of penance and renewal. This endeavor of conversion is not just a human work. It is the movement of a contrite heart, drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first.

St. Peter’s conversion after he had denied his master three times bears witness to this. Jesus’ look of infinite mercy drew tears of repentance from Peter and, after the Lord’s resurrection, a threefold affirmation of love for him. The second conversion also has a communitarian dimension, as is clear in the Lord’s call to a whole Church: Repent!

The reception of this sacrament ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God.

3. What is “interior penance”?

Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace.

This conversion or reorientation of our whole life is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him. It is God himself who gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. Our hearts are converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced.

Saint Clement of Rome once wrote: “Let us fix our eyes on Christ’s blood and understand how precious it is to his Father, for, poured out for our salvation it has brought to the whole world the grace of repentance.”

4. How do I express interior penance? How is it accomplished?

The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: effort at reconciliation with one’s neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one’s neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity which covers a multitude of sins.

Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right, by the admission of faults to one’s brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness. Taking up one’s cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance.

5. How can interior penance be strengthened?

Daily conversion and penance find their source and nourishment in the Eucharist, for in it is made present the sacrifice of Christ which has reconciled us with God. Through the Eucharist those who live from the life of Christ are fed and strengthened. The sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ is a remedy to free us from our daily faults and to preserve us from mortal sins.

Reading Sacred Scripture, praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Our Father – every sincere act of worship or devotion revives the spirit of conversion and repentance within us and contributes to the forgiveness of our sins.

The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).

The process of conversion and repentance was described by Jesus in the parable of the prodigal son, the center of which is the merciful father: the fascination of illusory freedom, the abandonment of the father’s house; the extreme misery in which the son finds himself after squandering his fortune; his deep humiliation at finding himself obliged to feed swine, and still worse, at wanting to feed on the husks the pigs ate; his reflection on all he has lost; his repentance and decision to declare himself guilty before his father; the journey back; the father’s generous welcome; the father’s joy – all these are characteristic of the process of conversion. The beautiful robe, the ring, and the festive banquet are symbols of that new life – pure, worthy, and joyful – of anyone who returns to God and to the bosom of his family, which is the Church. Only the heart of Christ who knows the depths of his Father’s love could reveal to us the abyss of his mercy in so simple and beautiful a way.

6. Who forgives my sins?

Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. For this reason conversion entails both God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are expressed and accomplished liturgically by the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

Only God forgives sins. Since he is the Son of God, Jesus says of himself, “The Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” and exercises this divine power: “Your sins are forgiven (Mk 2:5, 10).” Further, by virtue of his divine authority he gives this power to men to exercise in his name (Cf. Jn 20: 21-23).

Christ has willed that in her prayer and life and action his whole Church should be the sign and instrument of the forgiveness and reconciliation that he acquired for us at the price of his blood. But he entrusted the exercise of the power of absolution to the apostolic ministry which he charged with the ministry of reconciliation.

7. Besides being reconciled with God, whom else am I reconciled with when I receive the sacrament of Penance?

During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the People of God.

In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt 16:19).”

The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God.

8. What do I need to do in order to receive this sacrament?


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.

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.

The contrition called “imperfect” (or “attrition”) is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.

The confession of sins

The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them, and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the Church in order to make a new future possible.

When Christ’s faithful strive to confess all the sins that they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon. But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest, like a sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know.


Many sins wrong our neighbor. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered by gossiping, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused. Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must “make satisfaction for” or “expiate” his sins. This satisfaction is also called “penance.”

The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent’s personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, provided we suffer with him.

9. When must I receive this sacrament?

According to the Church’s command, after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year. Anyone who is aware of having committed a mortal sin must not receive Holy Communion, even if he experiences deep contrition, without having first received sacramental absolution, unless he has a grave reason for receiving Communion and there is no possibility of going to confession. Children must go to the sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion for the first time.

10. Who can hear my confession?

Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation. Today, bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops’ collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry. Indeed bishops and priests, by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, have the power to forgive all sins “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

When he celebrates the sacrament of Penance, the priest is fulfilling the ministry of the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep, of the Good Samaritan who binds up wounds, of the Father who awaits the prodigal son and welcomes him on his return, and of the just and impartial judge whose judgment is both just and merciful. The priest is the sign and the instrument of God’s merciful love for the sinner.

Given the delicacy and greatness of this ministry and the respect due to persons, the Church declares that every priest who hears confessions is bound under very severe penalties to keep absolute secrecy regarding the sins that his penitents have confessed to him. He can make no use of knowledge that confession gives him about penitents’ lives. This secret, which admits of no exceptions, is called the “sacramental seal,” because what the penitent has made known to the priest remains “sealed” by the sacrament.

11. What happens when I receive the absolution of my sins?

The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship. Reconciliation with God is thus the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite heart and religious disposition, reconciliation is usually followed by peace and serenity of conscience with strong spiritual consolation. Indeed the sacrament of Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual resurrection,” restoration of the dignity and blessings of the life of the children of God, of which the most precious is friendship with God.

This sacrament reconciles us also with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members. Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ, whether still on pilgrimage on earth or already in Heaven.

In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin. In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and “does not come into judgment.

12. What is a sin?

Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as “an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.”

Sin is first of all an offense against God. King David acknowledge the very nature of his sins: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight (Ps 51:4).”

Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from this love. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become like gods, knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to contempt of God.” In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.

It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery by the leaders and the people, Pilate’s cowardice and the cruelty of the soldiers, Judas’ betrayal – so bitter to Jesus, Peter’s denial and the disciples’ flight. However, at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world, the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly.

13. Is there any difference among sins?

There are a great many kinds of sins. Scripture provides several lists of them. The Letter to the Galatians contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit: “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21).”
Sins can also be classed according to whether they concern God, neighbor, or oneself; they can be divided into spiritual and carnal sins, or again as sins in thought, word, deed, or omission. The root of sin is in the heart of man, in his free will, according to the teaching of the Lord: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man (Mt 15:19-20.)” But in the heart also resides charity, the source of the good and pure works, which sin wounds.

14. Are all sins equally serious?

Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture (Cf. 1 Jn 16-17), became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience.

Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him.

Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it.

Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us – that is, charity – necessitates a new initiative of God’s mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation. Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches us that when our will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that directs us toward his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object . . . whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery. . . . But when the sinner’s will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.

For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother (Mk 10:19).” The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

15. What are the effects of mortal sin?

Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent.

16. Must I confess mortal sins in confession?

All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession, even if they are most secret and have been committed against the last two precepts of the Decalogue; for these sins sometimes wound the soul more grievously and are more dangerous than those which are committed openly.

17. What are the effects of venial sin?

Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable. Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness.
Saint Augustine once wrote: “While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call “light”: if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession.”

18. Must I confess venial sins in confession?

Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father’s mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful.

What are the steps I have to follow to receive the Sacrament of Forgiveness?

a- Pray to the Holy Spirit for self-knowledge and trust in the mercy of God. Examine your conscience, be truly sorry for your sins, and resolve to change your life.

b- Go to the priest and begin with the Sign of the Cross. Then say, “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been ____ weeks/ months/years since my last confession.”

c- Confess your sins honestly and clearly. Tell the priest of all mortal sins and the number of times each was committed, and then you may confess some of your venial sins. (Although it is not strictly necessary to confess venial sins, the Church recommends that you do.) If you do not know whether a sin is mortal or venial, ask the priest. If you have no mortal sins, confess venial sins you have committed since your last confession; you may also mention some mortal sin from your past life for which you are particularly sorry, indicating that it has already been confessed.

d- Then listen to the priest for whatever counsel he may judge appropriate. If you have any question about the faith, how to grow in holiness, or whether something is a sin, feel free to ask him. Then the priest will assign you a penance.

e- Pray the Act of Contrition when the priest tells you

You may say one of the following acts of contrition

* My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In his name, my God, have mercy.

* O my God, I am sorry for my sins because I have offended you. I know I should love you above all things. Help me to do penance, to do better, and to avoid anything that might lead me to sin. Amen.

* O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because of your just punishments, 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 sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.

f- Listen as the priest absolves you of your sins and enjoy the fact that God has truly freed you from all your sins. If you forget to confess a mortal sin, you are still forgiven, but must mention it the next time you go to confession.

g- Do the penance the priest assigns you.

Examination of conscience following the Ten Commandements

“I am the Lord, your God. You shall have no other gods besides me. “

• Have I doubted God’s existence?
• Have I been ungrateful to God for His benefits?
• Have I failed to give God the respect, the love, and the simplicity of a child toward his Father?
• Am I unwilling to cast out and destroy everything that makes my soul unworthy to be the dwelling place of the three divine Persons?
• Have I grumbled against God’s will?
• Do I refuse to accept troubles that come to me as a means of salvation?
• Have I ignored Christ’s voice within my soul when He has asked me for some sacrifice?
• Do I lack peace of soul because I don’t trust God?
• Have I been too proud to accept well, merited correction, even from my confessor?
• Do I rely solely on myself and not on God?
• Do I neglect my duties as a creature to my Creator?
• Do I have an exaggerated fear of death? Do I fail to abandon my past to God’s mercy and my future to His love?
• Have I abandoned the Catholic Faith?
• Have I joined a non-Catholic church?
• Have I refused to believe any truths of the Faith or any teachings of the Church?
• Did I fail to profess or defend the Faith when required to do so?
• Have I ridiculed the teachings or practices of the Church?
• Have I destroyed or lessened the faith of others by speaking contemptuously about religion, the Church, priests, and so forth?
• Am I ashamed of my Faith in front of others?
• Did I read materials or associate with people who might endanger my faith?
• Am I a member of a society or organization that is opposed to the Church?
• Have I neglected my Easter duty – that is, have I failed to receive Holy Communion at least once between Easter and Trinity Sunday?
• Have I failed to go to Confession when needed?
• Did I fail to carry out the penance assigned to me in a past confession?
• Did I neglect to fast and to abstain from eating meat on days when I was required to do so?
• Have I been inattentive during prayer? Have I willingly entertained distractions?
• Have I been unfaithful to daily prayer?
• Have I received Holy Communion without reverence?
• Have I neglected to make a proper thanksgiving after receiving Communion?
• Do I fail to examine my conscience regularly and often?
• Am I ignorant of any of the commandments or teachings of the Church? Have I failed to instruct myself further in the Faith?
• Do I neglect to read Scripture?
• Do I omit my religious exercises or put them off for no good reason?
• Do I neglect to try to correct myself, remembering that I should always strive for the perfection that the call to holiness entails?
• Have I fully intended to commit sin, even though I may not have successfully accomplished the act?
• Have I evaded an opportunity to enlighten someone on religious truth?

“You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.”

• Do I speak blasphemously about God, Jesus, Mary, the angels, or the saints?
• Do I use God’s name carelessly, in anger, or in surprise?
• Do I speak irreverently of holy persons, places, or things?
• Have I called down evil upon anyone or anything?

“Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. “

• Did I miss Mass on a Sunday or on a holy day of obligation through my own fault?
• Did I arrive at Mass late or leave early without good reason?
• Do I allow myself to be distracted during Mass?
• Have I done unnecessary servile work or conducted business on Sunday?

“Honor your father and your mother.”

• Have I disobeyed, insulted, or shown disrespect to my parents, grandparents, guardians, or superiors?
• Am I disrespectful, impolite, or discourteous toward my family?
• Have I failed to have my children baptized or receive First Communion or Confirmation?
• Do I fail to educate my children in the Faith?
• Have I failed to take my children to Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days of obligation?
• Have I failed to meet my children’s physical, spiritual, emotional, and educational needs?
• Do I mistreat, belittle, or abuse my children?
• Have I failed to care for and provide for my parents in time of need?
• Have I neglected the duties of my state of life?
• Have I disobeyed the lawful demands of my superiors, teachers, or employer?
• Have I neglected my work or my studies?
• Am I disrespectful toward the elderly?
• Have I neglected my duty to bring peace into my home life?
• Have I neglected my aged and infirm relatives?
• Am I disobedient to the civil law or to those in authority?
• Do I fail to pray daily for my parents, my family, and my benefactors?

“You shall not kill.”

• Have I murdered anyone or killed anyone through negligence or carelessness?
• Did I perform or assist in an abortion?
• Did I have an abortion?
• Did I force, pressure, or mislead a woman into having an abortion?
• Have I participated in surrogate motherhood?
• Have I received or participated in artificial insemination?
• Have I been surgically sterilized?
• Have I encouraged or condoned sterilization?
• Have I mutilated my body or another’s body?
• Did I attempt suicide?
• Have I used harsh or abusive language toward another?
• Do I act violently?
• Have I needlessly put my life or others’ lives in danger?
• Have I driven recklessly or carelessly?
• Did I strike or fight with another?
• Do I drink alcohol excessively or smoke excessively?
• Do I abuse prescribed drugs?
• Do I use, distribute, or sell illegal drugs?
• Do I eat too much or sleep too much?
• Do I neglect or endanger my health?
• Am I too concerned about my health or my appereance?
• Do I fail to wish my neighbor all the good things that I wish for myself?
• Do I deliberately harbor unkind and revengeful thoughts about others?
• Have I taken revenge?
• Have I attributed bad motives to others, when not be certain of their motives?
• Am I rude, impolite, or inconsiderate?
• Do I ridicule others?
• As a husband or wife, have I failed prudently to make an effort to prevent the sins of my spouse?
• Have I neglected my duty of preventing those in my charge from committing sin, or correcting them after they have failed?
• Have I failed to report to an appropriate authority actions that are harmful to the innocent or to the community?
• After a quarrel, have I refused to make efforts at reconciliation?
• Do I set bad examples for others?
• Have I failed to help someone in danger or in need?
• Am I stubborn in my opinions?
• Do I disagree with Church teachings on abortion, sterilization, and contraception?
• Am I impatient?
• Have I failed to show respect to my social inferiors as children of God?
• Have I spread gloom by giving way to morose and sullen moods?
• Do I habitually look for flaws and point them out to others?
• Do I put a damper on others’ joys by my negative attitude?
• Do I complain unnecessarily or in excess?
• Have I made cutting and sarcastic remarks to others?
• Have I cooperated with another in committing a sin?
• When I had the opportunity, have I done nothing to prevent evil?
• Have I led others into sin by suggestion or bad example?
• Do I guard my words and conduct, especially when in the presence of children?
• Have I permitted someone to suffer injustice or mistreatment when I could have prevented it?
• Do I hurt others by my anger and impatience?
• Do I lead others into venial sin by unreasonably teasing or annoying them?
• Have I dissuaded another person from doing a good work?

“You shall not commit adultery.” “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.”

• Have I committed fornication?
• Have I committed adultery?
• Have I aroused illicit sexual desire in myself or another by impure passionate kissing, embracing, or touching?
• Do I masturbate?
• Do I engage in homosexual acts?
• Do I use artificial contraceptives or other birth-prevention methods forbidden by the Church?
• Have I refused my spouse the marriage right without a good reason or made an unreasonable demand for it?
• Am I dating someone who is civilly divorced but is still bound by a valid marriage?
• Do I dress immodestly?
• Have I entertained impure thoughts or desires?
• Have I read impure material, listened to music with impure lyrics, or looked at impure images, whether in pictures or on television, VCD, DVD, etc.?
• Do I use vulgar language or tell or listen to impure jokes or stories?
• Do I associate with people of immoral character who are or may be occasions of sin?
• Have I thought of other people as objects?

“You shall not steal.”

• Have I stolen money or property?
• Have I failed to make restitution for what I stole?
• Have I damaged property?
• Have I accepted or bought stolen property?
• Have I helped someone steal?
• Have I smuggled goods?
• Did I file an unjust lawsuit or make unjust claims in a lawsuit?
• Am I dishonest in my business dealings?
• As a merchant, have I charged unreasonably high prices or intentionally hidden the defects of the items I sell?
• Do I fail to pay workers a just amount?
• Have I failed to do the amount of work for which I am paid? Have I been careless in my work?
• Do I neglect to pay taxes?
• Have I neglected to pay my debts?
• Am I incurring debts that I shall never be able to repay?
• Have I bribed someone or accepted a bribe?
• Do I gamble excessively?
• Have I borrowed something without the owner’s permission?
• Have I failed to return something I borrowed?
• Do I waste money or spend it extravagantly?
• Have I squandered money and thus left my family in want of necessary things?
• Do I waste goods or food?
• Do I neglect to give to the Church as my means allow?
• Have I refused to give alms for the relief of the needy or to charitable causes, even though I had opportunities and sufficient means to do so?
• Have I cheated on tests or schoolwork?
• Have I cheated in games or sports?
• Have I been stingy with my time, money, and talents?

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

• Have I lied deliberately?
• Have I lied under oath?
• Have I failed to keep vows or oaths?
• Have I sworn to do something sinful or illegal?
• Have I deliberately tried to overhear another’s confession?
• Have I, by silence or approval, failed to prevent the defamation of another’s character when I could have done so?
• Have I slandered others by attributing to them sins they did not commit or of which I had no evidence?
• Have I discussed or listened to discussions of others’ faults?
• Have I revealed anyone’s secret sins to those who could not otherwise have known them and who had no claim to such information?
• Have I caused ill will by telling my friends the unkind remarks others made about them?
• Have I told a secret I was asked to keep?
• Have I betrayed someone’s trust?
• Have I read someone else’s letters or private documents that I had no right to read?
• Have I boasted of my sins?
• Have I criticized anyone uncharitably?
• Do I make rash judgments and harbor false suspicions about others?
• Have I deliberately misled or deceived anyone?
• Have I refused to forgive someone or held a grudge against him?
• Have I failed to apologize or make amends to someone I offended?

“You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor’s.”

• Am I greedy? Am I selfish?
• Do I indulge in self-pity?
• Am I proud?
• Am I vain?
• Do I desire to be praised?
• Do I show off?
• Have I exaggerated my success?
• Have I minimized or explained away my failures?
• In my spirituality, do I seek mere personal excellence?
• Have I refused responsibility for fear that it might reveal my limitations?
• Have I measured my charity only by what others have given, instead of by my ability to give and by the need of others?
• Have I demanded publicity and praise for my almsgiving?
• Am I touchy and hypersensitive?
• Do I magnify the least oversight or thoughtlessness into an insult or deliberate slight?
• Am I envious of someone’s possessions, talents, or blessings?
• Do I take delight in others’ misfortunes?