To make a good confession, we need to properly perform all five parts of the sacrament of holy confession, which are:
- Examination of conscience
- Sincere repentance
- Resolution to avoid sin
- The act of confession itself
EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE
Firstly, we should thank the Lord for the sacrament of holy confession. It is good to pray to the Holy Spirit to enlighten our conscience and awareness so that we can make a conscientious confession and for the priest who will hear our confession. We should sincerely confess all our sins to the priest. Therefore, before confession, it is good to thoroughly examine our conscience to recall the sins committed.
Honestly ask yourself: Am I approaching the sacrament of confession with a sincere desire to cleanse my soul and obtain a new life, to repent, to deepen my friendship with God, or am I confessing out of habit, without a true desire to improve? Am I sincerely sorry for my sins, do I regret and feel remorse for them because I have offended God, my neighbor, and myself, and because my sins ruin my life?
Am I sincerely renouncing every sin and genuinely deciding not to sin anymore, or do I intend to continue sinning after confession? If there is no sincere repentance and resolution to avoid sin, and if we willingly conceal a serious sin, the confession is not valid, and our sins are not forgiven.
See also the article about Five Stones of Medjugorje, regarding confessing your sins.
Mary promises to assist us at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, if five consecutive first Saturdays we fulfill five conditions, one of the is:
Do a good confession in the spirit of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; we can confess previously, for example, last Sunday, but when receiving Holy Communion on the first Saturday we should be in sanctifying grace;
Thus, we commit yet another new grave sin, that is, we confess sacrilegiously and receive the sacraments of Christ without true intent. Holy confession is conversion and renunciation of every sin, even the smallest one, and a complete commitment to Christ and life in His love and grace.
Ask yourself: When was the last time I confessed, did I forget or intentionally conceal serious sins in previous confessions, did I withhold injustices I committed, did I fulfill the assigned penance, did I rectify the wrongs I caused to others, do I confess too infrequently, have I been living in a serious sin for a long time and therefore feel burdened and unwilling? It would be good to go to confession more frequently, at least once a month, and receive communion every Sunday and on feast days.
Then let us examine our conscience according to God’s commandments.
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God’s Commandment: Do not have other gods beside me
- Is God first in my life? Do I have other gods besides Him, such as money, material wealth, career, reputation, honor, power, seeking everyone’s approval, body and physical desires, clothing and appearance, social status among friends, and self-love?
- Are certain individuals, like athletes, politicians, actors, famous people, or things like cars, televisions, computers, houses, and others, my idols? Am I my own greatest idol? Perhaps because of these idols, my conscience is superficial, and I easily break God’s law.
- Am I superstitious? Do I believe that a black cat or the number 13 bring bad luck, do I knock three times on wood to prevent something bad from happening to me? Do I believe that certain symbols and objects bring luck, for example, a four-leaf clover, horseshoe, ladybug, wishbone, red ribbon, and the like?
- Have I engaged in gambling, slot machines, lotteries, sports betting, and the like?
- Have I consulted quacks, energy healers, voodoo or other self-proclaimed prophets, dowsers, and the like? Many chiropractors actually deal with bioenergy and certain types of acupuncture of magical origin.
- Have I attended transcendental meditation courses, yoga, participated in rituals of Eastern and other sects, Hare Krishna, participated in Sai Baba’s movement, or the Bahai religion or similar Eastern religious movements? Have I belonged to a sect?
- Have I had someone read my palm, drink coffee grounds, or read cards for me? Do I read horoscopes, believe in stars? Have I attended or participated in spiritualist seances?
- Have I been a member of a liberal party that relativizes truth and morality or a communist party that denies God? Have I accepted or supported sects, teachings, or ideologies condemned by the Church that endorse atheism?
- Have I read literature of magical origin or that promotes hatred towards God and humanity?
- Have I associated with those who mock faith and religious truths or are anti-religious?
- Have I doubted my faith, intentionally denied or doubted the truths of faith, for example, heaven, purgatory, and hell? Have I perhaps concealed my faith out of self-interest, respect, or fear?
- Have I made a promise or vows that I haven’t kept? Before making a vow, seek advice from a priest.
- Do I give God enough of my time? Do I pray regularly or neglect prayer for long periods? Do I read the Holy Scriptures, religious books, and magazines, or am I lazy and uninterested? Am I sincerely seeking God, the true truth, and true joy? Do I love God, praise and glorify Him, thank Him?
- Who or what is in the first place in my life? Who or what is my God?
God’s Commandment: Do not take the name of the Lord in vain
- Have I cursed God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the saints? Have I mentioned their names in anger, disrespectfully, in vain?
- Have I spoken profane and vulgar words, thereby insulting God, others, and my soul, and scandalizing someone? Have I listened to conversations, jokes, and television shows where swearing and vulgar and shameless words were used?
- Have I often and unnecessarily mentioned the devil?
- Have I encouraged or led someone into the sin of swearing?
- Have I cursed someone or something, been arrogant, ironic, or cynical?
- Do I perhaps attribute to God the evil and bad things that happen in my life, blaming Him?
God’s Commandment: Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day
- Have I missed Sunday Mass and required holidays due to my lukewarmness, carelessness, and laziness? Have I been late for Mass or behaved improperly at Mass?
- Do I believe that the living Jesus is present in the Eucharist under the appearance of bread and wine?
- Have I avoided attending church devotions such as the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, and popular devotions?
- Have I worked, besides what is necessary, on Sundays and holidays? Have I postponed studying and homework for Sunday and the holidays? With whom and how did I spend Sundays and holidays?
- How much time on Sundays and holidays do I devote to family, parents, relatives, and friends?
God’s Commandment: Honor your father and mother so that you may live long and well on the earth
- How do I behave in my family?
- Do I make an effort for the good and happiness of my family?
- Do I talk to members of my family? Do I stay away from home a lot?
- Have I always listened to and respected my parents? Have I denied them help, understanding, and comfort? Have I offended them, threatened them, or hit them? Have I neglected or abandoned them?
- Do I pray for deceased family members?
- Have I neglected Christian education of my own children? Have I provided love, tenderness, and protection for my children, have I failed to supervise and encourage them? Do I pray and offer sacrifices for them? Am I a bad example and a scandal to my children?
- Am I unreconciled and in hatred with relatives and neighbors?
- Have I listened to and respected Church dignitaries, the Pope, bishops, priests? Have I mocked, scorned, or slandered them?
- Have I attended some lectures that spoke against living in faith and against the truths of our faith?
God’s Commandment: Do not kill
- Have I insulted, cursed, hit, or mistreated someone? Am I inclined to constantly humiliate my neighbor, speak ill of them?
- Have I been envious of someone or wished evil, rejoiced in someone’s misfortune? Have I been jealous, hated anyone, sought revenge on someone, refused to forgive someone else?
- Have I been moody, angry, wrathful, towards myself and others? Have I been envious, selfish, stingy? Have I set a bad example or given bad advice to someone else?
- Have I approved, advised, advocated, or committed abortion?
- Have I attempted murder or suicide? Have I committed murder?
- Have I damaged my physical and spiritual health by abusing drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, overeating, unnecessary diets due to self-love and self-importance?
- Have I spent nights in smoky bars and nightclubs in extravagant parties, then spent days sleeping? Have I spent hours and hours watching television and the internet?
- Have I constantly driven without obeying traffic rules, endangering my own and others’ lives?
- Have I failed to help those in need?
- Have I neglected to use good deeds to correct someone who swears, speaks bad words, or commits other serious sins?
- Have I neglected duties and help or excessively stayed away from the family?
- Have I neglected discipline and order in my life and in the life of my family?
God’s Commandment: Do not commit adultery and 9. God’s Commandment: Do not covet your neighbor’s spouse
- Have I deliberately supported lustful thoughts, looks, desires?
- Have I led others into the sin of lust through looks, words, bad examples, and provocative clothing?
- Have I sinned lustfully? Have I committed the sin of self-gratification?
- Have I sinned lustfully with persons of the opposite sex who are not married or with persons who are married, with persons of the same sex?
- Have I read shameless books and magazines, watched such movies, and recommended them to others?
- Have I watched pornographic movies, the internet, or TV programs that scandalize? Have I spent time with bad company and attended extravagant parties, visited brothels, and engaged in prostitution?
- Have I been unfaithful to my spouse and by act, word, or desire committed adultery?
In married life, have I neglected to follow moral law and prevented conception by wasting seed, using various contraceptive methods, or an abortive spiral?
- Have I behaved selfishly in intimate relationships with my spouse?
God’s Commandment: Do not steal and 8. God’s Commandment: Do not covet anything belonging to your neighbor
- Have I stolen something from someone, if so, what did I steal and what was its value? Have I kept stolen goods?
- Have I cheated someone in buying and selling or any business?
- Have I caused harm to someone and neglected to compensate for the damage?
- Have I neglected to repay a debt? Have I timely repaid debts?
- Have I caused harm to a subordinate with unjust pay, have I taken bribes?
- Have I caused harm to my employer? Have I unjustly missed work?
- Have I engaged in usury, envied others, and desired others’ goods?
- Have I revealed someone else’s entrusted secret or hidden sin, transmitted bad things from someone’s life?
- Have I spoken ill and judged someone, based solely on what I heard from others?
God’s Commandment: Do not bear false witness
- Have I lied, has my lie harmed someone? Have I falsely sworn, testified falsely, falsely accused someone, slandered someone?
- Have I divulged secrets, criticized, doubted, made hasty judgments?
- Have I been insincere and boastful? Have I been falsely humble, pretending to be better than I am? Have I given false promises?
- Have I taken away someone’s good name or claimed it based on someone else’s merits?
- Have I criticized Church officials, the Pope, bishops, priests? Have I mocked, scorned, or slandered them?
- Have I attended lectures that spoke against living in faith and against the truths of our faith?
The text is a translation of a compilation by Father Josip Radić – Preparation for the Sacrament of Confession. You can hear more about him in his YouTube sermons – Omnia Deo