forourtimetoo  asked:

Hi! I'm a practicing Catholic, but up until this year, I went to confession VERY rarely. I've been going more frequently, but that's led to a lot of questions. Basically, I'm not sure what one should confess - clearly, one's sins. But what about things that don't easily fall into the 10 Commandments? Self-harm, emotions/ impulses that one doesn't act on, letting one's self down? I know the confessional isn't the therapist's chair, but does that limit what one should confess? Thanks, & God bless!


Here is an examination of conscience that you could use before going to confession. I did not write it, but took it instead from this website:


1. You shall have no other gods besides the Lord your God.

Do I love God above all things? Is He number one in my life or do I put myself before God? 
Has money and pleasure become more important to me than the God who created me for Himself? 
Do I pray often? Have I neglected my friendship with God by neglecting prayer? 
Have I been involved with occult or superstitious practices, i.e., fortune telling? 
Have I ever received Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin? 
Have I told a lie in confession or deliberately withheld confessing a mortal sin?

2. You shall not take the Lord your God’s name in vain.

Have I ever committed perjury, that is, lied under oath in a court of law? 
Have I ever lied after “swearing to God” that I am telling the truth? 
Have I ever used God’s name out of anger, that is, as a curse?

3. Keep the Sabbath day holy.

Have I deliberately missed Holy Mass on the Sabbath (Saturday evening through Sunday)? 
Have I ever missed Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation or an important holiday in the liturgical calendar (i.e., Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas, Mary the Mother of God, etc.)?

4. Honour your father and your mother so that you may live long and flourish.

Do I disobey my parents? 
Do I fail to respect them? 
Do I swear at them? 
Am I ashamed of them? 
Do I let them know I love them? 
Do I lie to them? 
Do I steal from them?
Am I obeying and honouring those in place of my parents, such as teachers and principals? 
Do I skip class? 
Do I lie to my teachers? 
Do I swear at them?

5. You shall not kill.

Am I killing myself by taking illegal drugs, such as marijuana? 
Abusing alcohol? 
Have I had an abortion? 
Have I ever counselled anyone to have an abortion? 
Do I stand up for the unborn child’s right to life, or have I merely accepted society’s anti-life mentality? 
Have I used abortifacient contraceptives or encouraged anyone to do so?
Have I sterilized myself in any way or encouraged anyone to do so? 
Did I participate in or approve of euthanasia or “mercy-killing”? 
Have I murdered anyone’s reputation by deliberately spreading rumours or keeping rumours alive by passing them on? 
Do I nurse anger against anyone? 
Hold a grudge? 
Refuse to forgive another? 
Have I cursed anyone?

6. You shall not commit adultery.

Have I ever had sex with anyone? 
Have I had sex with myself? 
Have I ever watched pornography either on the Internet or through some other media? 
Have I ever freely and deliberately entertained impure thoughts? 
Have I practiced any form of contraception? 
Am I modest in dress?

7. You shall not steal.

Do I steal from my parents? 
Do I steal from friends? 
Have I ever stolen from a stranger? 
Have I stolen any property from a store? 
In other words, have I ever taken what rightfully belongs to another?
Do I gamble excessively? 
Do I seek to share what I have with the poor and needy?

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

Am I a liar? 
Am I guilty of detraction, that is, making known the faults of others? 
Am I guilty of slander, that is, spreading lies about someone? 
Do I gossip about others? 
Do I reveal information that should be confidential? 
Am I “two-faced”, that is, have I been a certain kind of person to some people, but a completely different kind of person to others?

9. & 10. You shall not envy your neighbour’s wife and goods.

Am I envious of others? 
Do I wish that others be deprived of the goods or talents that are theirs? 
Am I jealous of others? 
Do I harbour unforgiveness and grudges against others? 
Am I a resentful person? 
Do I put down others?

 As far as self-harm and impulses that one cannot control, they do not always have to be confessed as sin because they are more impulsive acts that arise from having mental illness. Objectively speaking, self-harm is a sin, but subjectively, we are often not guilty if we don’t realize what we are doing.

However, just because we struggle with mental illness does not mean we let ourselves off the hook. We have an obligation to get help, and at the very least to read up online through the many excellent therapy and self-help websites that are out there. Even on Tumblr, there are some pretty good bloggers who post tips for battling depression, anxiety, self-harm, etc.

If one refuses to read and seek help, and if one refuses to act on the tips that others offer us, then that should be confessed as sin because it is willful refusal to take care of our mental health. Some people have even yelled at their doctors or therapists and said, “SHUT UP, I tried that already and it doesn’t work.” 

I cannot count how many I know who have gotten angry deep down, but who have actually, behind the scenes, not really tried the options and ideas that are given to improve mental health. When we don’t make the effort to work on mental health, and get lazy, and want recovery to be easy, we make our life more hopeless and miserable, and we make others miserable with our lashing out at them for trying to help us.

So when it comes to confession, you are right. It is not meant to be therapy and psychologizing. It is meant to be spiritual accountability and healing from the effects of sin, and sin is turning toward the self and indulging ourselves when we should try to be generous to God and to neighbor. 

But certain elements in our psyche and mental thoughts can still be sinful, even though they are part of mental illness. The element of just having a lazy or bad attitude and needing to enable and rationalize our problems gets into the arena of sin.

Without condemning us for being mentally ill, our conscience should still challenge us to ask what we are doing, today, to constructively build a new life? Even cancer patients in chemo, with desperation and pain, fight to hold on to their physical life and to do stuff that will wipe out the cancer. The least a mental patient can do as well is fight for the survival of their mind, when it is playing tricks on them and trying to rob them of inner peace. God bless and take care, Fr. Angel

What Must I Do? The Sacrament of Reconciliation and Young Adults

I was curious to see if there was an Examination of Conscience for Young Adults, and USCCB didn’t let me down :) Here it is by Fr. Thomas Weinandy:

An Examination of Conscience for Young Adults

Responsibilities to God:

  • Have I gone to Mass on Sunday or have I rebelled and been stubborn about going to Mass?
  • Did I participate in the Mass or did I daydream?
  • Have I prayed every day?
  • Have I read the Bible?
  • Have I been rebellious toward God and his commands?
  • Have I misused the name of God by swearing and cursing?
  • Have I told the Father that I love him for creating me and making me his son/daughter?
  • Have I thanked Jesus for becoming man, dying for my sin and rising to give me eternal life?
  • Have I asked the Holy Spirit to help me conquer sin and temptation and to be obedient to God’s commands?

Responsibilities to others and myself:

  • Have I been rebellious, disobedient or disrespectful to my parents, teachers and those in authority over me?
  • Have I lied to or deceived my parents or others?
  • Have I been arrogant and stubborn?
  • Have I talked back to my parents or those in authority?
  • Have I gotten angry or nurtured and held grudges and resentments? Have I refused to forgive others? Have I cultivated hatred?
  • Have I engaged in sexual fantasies? Have I looked at others lustfully?
  • Have I read pornographic literature or looked at pornographic pictures, shows or movies?
  • Have I masturbated?
  • Have I lustfully kissed or sexually touched someone? Have I had sexual intercourse?
  • Have I had an abortion or encouraged another to have one?
  • Have I gossiped about others? Have I slandered anyone? Have I told lies about others? Have I mocked or made fun of others?
  • Have I lied or cheated? Have I stolen anything? Have I paid it back?
  • Have I been selfish or spiteful toward others? Have I been jealous?
  • Have I gotten drunk, or taken drugs?
  • Have I participated in anything that is of the occult: ouija boards, fortune tellers, séances, channeling, astrology?
  • Have I been patient, kind gentle and self-controlled?
  • When my conscience told me to do something good, did I do it or did I ignore it?

This part was found under the Examination of Conscience for Single People, but I think it fits in with the rest of this list pretty well:

Responsibilities to society:

  • Have I been a Christian witness to those with whom I work or associate? Have I spoken to anyone about the Gospel and how important it is to believe in Jesus?
  • Have I allowed the Gospel to influence my political and social opinions?
  • Have I had a proper Christian concern for the poor and needy?
  • Have I paid my taxes?
  • Have I fostered or nurtured hatred toward my ‘political’ opponents, either local, national or international?
  • Have I been prejudiced toward others because of race, color, religion or social status?
Examination of Conscience

God=Love? Ok.

The two somehow become diluted. Love turns into like or infatuation or lust or a happy notion. God turns into a genie, a friend in GOOD times, an “inspiration” or a basis for hope. The process is that of taking a word in spanish and loosely translating it into english then loosely translating back into spanish, not very intimate and rather dull.

If you’re Catholic, you know that the mass is changing back into the formal form where the best translation from Latin to another language is the focus so that there is more meaning in the mass instead of the recent “routine-like” format. (That’s very poorly described, but’ll suffice)

The reason why I brought that up is because the same effect has been found evident in the modern mindset on LOVE and GOD. It’s SO easy to say God is Good. It’s so easy to preach about TRUE love, but what is forgotten is that those words are not just words. Acknowledgement alone is not enough. LOVE and faith in GOD are meant to be moving in ACTION, motivating forces in our lives.

Telling someone “I love you” is endearing, sure, but in the understanding of Love, it means you will be kind, patient, humble, etc… that you will honor Love for it’s example from Christ, Himself. You didn’t see Jesus complain because his Love was not RECIPROCATED. You didn’t see Him CHOOSE certain people He would show Love to and keep it from others. He never really had to say 143 because he showed He did through His ACTIONS.

The call and response, “God is Good! All the time! & All the time! God is Good!” is a fun way to get a group’s attention, but how often after this “proclamation” do people WORRY? Why do people who claim to trust in God NEED to smoke, or do drugs, or resort to some other habit or addiction for peace? Simply proclaiming God’s name won’t mean you’ll have the perfect life. Proclaiming your faith in God means EXACTLY that, that you will trust that in good times and bad, you will rely on His will. How often do we FEEL the NEED to take control?

God=Love? or God=Happiness? or Love=Convenience?

Examination of Conscience is the last minute contemplation before you sleep on how your day was, how you are living your life, a time to be honest with yourself. Examine GOD in your life. Examine LOVE in your life. Are you truly living a life that is centered on GOD, LOVING in nature? Or are you living a watered down, manipulated, controlled, convenient version that “best fits” how you want to be living? Before you sleep, always search for the peaceful understanding that:


that-classic-book-junkie  asked:

Hello Father. I found your post on confession really helpful. But I have a question about something you said. You talked about not being just general & getting down into the depths. Could you explain that more? Also, do you have a link to or know of any really thorough examinations of conscience? Thank you!


I don’t think that a person should get down “into the depths” when they go to confession. What I meant is that they should just specify what kind of sin it is that they committed.

For example, if you steal office supplies at work, you should say, “I stole office supplies” instead of saying, “I caused a problem at work” (too general). Or, after having too many beers at a party, you should say, “I got drunk at a party” instead of saying, “I did something at a party that I shouldn’t have done” (too general). If a person watched pornography and masturbated, they should say that instead of saying, “I committed a sin of the flesh” (too general).

It is enough to say what kind of sin you committed–lying, stealing, blaspheming, dishonoring parents, having sex with a partner, getting high, etc. It is NOT necessary to go into detail about how you carried out the sin–especially sins of a sexual nature should not be recounted in detail. For instance, if someone had sex with someone else’s spouse (adultery), that is all I need to know. I do not need to know, and do not want to know, about the particulars of how they did this or what they did. Hope this helps. 

Here is a past post that mentions the examination of conscience:


God bless and take care, Fr. Angel

10 Suggestions For A Good Traditional Catholic Nightly Examination Of Conscience | Traditional Catholic Priest
It is Catholic tradition for priests, religious and laity who pray Compline, (Night Prayer) to pause at the beginning, and do an Examination of Conscience. The purpose of this is to look back over the day and see in what area of our life we might have sinned this day and in what way you can improve tomorrow. …

anonymous asked:

Hey Father, I have a question. I had serious problems with pornography and had to go to Confession every week because of that. However, now that I'm back to normal (God willing, this will last), I still want to go to Confession every week to keep my spiritual strength up. My problem is that now I don't know what to say. What do I do in Confession now that that issue has been resolved?

Hello anon:

Besides looking at mortal sins, there are also venial sins that can be confessed. Look at the Ten Commandments and the tasks of the evangelical (Gospel) counsels, which are poverty, chastity, and obedience. This will help you examine your conscience.

Have you chased after other idols, not just the occult, psychics, spiritism and religious practices outside of Christianity, but also the idols of attention, popularity, wanting to be accepted by the crowd, wanting to have control or power or influence with others that is not due to you? Have you shown disrespect to the Pope, church leaders, been unfair in your outlook toward your parish, the fellow members who are in the church, or been too idealistic and picky with the Church in the world? Do you demand to be served and catered to, and first ask what your country, church, community can do to serve you instead of the other way around? Have you missed Mass, failed to study Scripture or say prayers daily? Could someone walk into your room and tell right away that you are Christian? Is your life more about gadgets, tech stuff, entertainment, and social networks, before it is about the duties you have around your home toward upkeep?

How do you keep holy the Lord’s Day or how do you follow the liturgy of the Church? Are you just a Sunday Catholic? Do you dissent from Catholic doctrine and the pastoral mission set out by the bishops, or your bishop, and then invent pretexts and excuses for you “going your way?” Have you taken public stances in favor of abortion choice, gay marriage, women’s ordination, or public policies which are harmful to the poor and downtrodden?

What’s happening with your family? Are all those relationships fine and close, or do you spend too much energy disagreeing, fighting, holding grudges, brooding over past hurts, and demanding that your family shape up into the image you have in store? Do you sometimes judge certain family members too harshly and give up on them? What about your chores, your duties, and is there an ability for you to do more to help with the yard work, house cleaning, cooking, washing dishes, washing the cars, babysitting, shopping for your family, or driving and picking up family members? If you live away from home, are you able to chat on the phone with your mom and dad? Do you worry about running around with friends and hardly ever write or call home? When was the last time your parents heard from you? Did you just call for a minute and then want to get off the phone? Do you keep track of your parents’ birthdays and special days to wish them well? Are there siblings you refuse to speak to?

Do you take care of your physical health, or do you ingest drugs, inordinate amounts of tobacco or alcohol? Do you deprive your body of the 8 hours of sleep it should have a day because you are doing other unimportant things at night? Are you moody and tired through the day because your body doesn't get the oxygen it needs through regular exercise? Have you been intensely angry, wished ill will upon others, or called people names and cussed at them without any attempt later at an apology? How do you behave when you are driving, and do you follow the traffic laws? Do you hold dear, sacred, inviolable, and worthy of protection innocent and vulnerable life from conception till natural death? Do you waver on the pro-life stance of the Church? Have you counseled someone to get an abortion, or assisting in any way to have a human being aborted and deprived of life in this world?

What are your attitudes towards human sexuality as a gift from God to be regulated by the sacrament of marriage? Do you feel excessive dislike of men, of women, or of people you think are too masculine or too feminine? Have you seen others and thought of how you would like to use their bodies for pleasure so that you forget who they are as people with dignity? Do you support pornography and use images of people’s bodies in a way that is lustful? Do you engage in sexual pleasure outside of marriage? Have you dissented from the Church’s teaching on birth control or have you put yourself on birth control for the purpose of having sex with various partners without the risk of pregnancy?

Have you been guilty of being two-faced, dishonest, fraudulent, and misleading in any communication or behavior with others? Do you ever steal or borrow things without returning them. Are you jealous of what others have, or get angry because someone else is closer to a person you admire than you are? Do you use people or look at them as suckers for your agenda and needs? Do you see people with bias when they have a lot less money than you, or a lot more? Do you put on airs, brag about your education, and think deep down that you are better than others because of your accomplishments?

This is a very tiny examination of conscience that you can use when thinking of other things to talk about in confession. God bless and take care! Fr. Angel

A thorough self examination of my conscience prevents me from ever judging another human being. How can I expect such high standards from others when I cannot be faithful to Allah in even the smallest of matters? Each night before I go to sleep I meditate upon my actions of the day. I seek to understand my careless motivations and my lack of compassion. I pray for the grace to never fall again? That I will eventually fall keeps me humble and returning to my beloved for mercy.
—  The Secret Sufi
Nightly Examination of Conscience

Self-examination is and always has been a part of being a part of Israel. Specific disciplines arose very early in monastic life, becoming a part of the regular daily exercises of the monks and nuns. St. Ignatius Loyola perfected the techniques in the 16th c., writing of them in his “Spiritual Exercises." 

Outline of St. Ignatius’s steps for a General Examination of Conscience: 

  • The first Point is to give thanks to God our Lord for the benefits received. 
  • The second, to ask grace to know our sins and cast them out. 
  • The third, to ask account of our soul from the hour that we rose up to the present Examen, hour by hour, or period by period: and first as to thoughts, and then as to words, and then as to acts.
  • The fourth, to ask pardon of God our Lord for the faults.
  • The fifth, to purpose amendment with His grace. 

It is traditional to end the nightly examination of conscience with the Our Father. 

If the sins we’ve uncovered involve grave matter – especially if they were done with full consent and knowledge – we receive the Sacrament of Penance (Reconciliation) as soon as possible and do not receive the Eucharist until we have done so.

There are five points in this method of making the general examination of conscience.

First, give thanks to God for favors received.

Second, ask for grace to know my sins and to rid myself of them.

Third, demand an account of my soul from the time of rising to the present examination. I should go over one hour after another, one period after another. The thoughts should be examined first, then the words, and finally the deeds …

Fourth, ask pardon of God our Lord for my faults.

Fifth, resolve to amend with the grace of God. Close with an Our Father. 

St. Ignatius of Loyola 

Today was such a beautiful day. The weather was so nice. God blessed us with periods of sun, and seventy degree weather. It was so refreshing. I actually sat outside today. I’ve come to realize that living here in Ohio, a state that has real seasons, has given me a whole new appreciation for nice weather.

I told Justin about the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy app I downloaded yesterday. I took a little break in our conversation over FaceTime, to pray it. While I was praying, he downloaded an app too and also prayed it. He told me he really liked it, and that he wants to pray it with me. I can not even begin to explain how blessed I feel to have this man as the man I’m going to marry. We build and grow so much from each other, it’s amazing. I feel so blessed to be able to share my Catholic faith with someone, and to grow in that faith.

I also downloaded an Examination of Conscience app on my iPad today. It’s been on my heart for a little while to really examine myself, and my sins. I know that there are sins in my life that are keeping me out of being in a state of grace with God, and out of being in a full communion with Him. It is a very scary realization. Being out of a state of grace is not somewhere I want to be comfortable being. It’s easy to get comfortable with our sins and ignore how detrimental they can be to our souls. I find myself in that position often, and I need to do something about it. I need to pray for the courage and strength to do what needs to be done. My soul and having eternal life with my Holy Father are just too important.

Jesus, I trust in you.

the-organized-notebook  asked:

Hi Father! I was wondering, is it acceptable to bring a written examination of conscience into the confessional? I always make a mental list before I go in, but then I get so nervous and ashamed that more often than not I forget most of that list, including some things I really wanted to mention so I can be explicitly forgiven for them, not just included in the general absolution.

It’s acceptable, yes. But I don’t think it’s necessary. It makes people think that if they don’t remember every detail of sin, that God will be displeased. Remember, the absolution WIPES AWAY both the sins that were confessed, AND THE SINS that people forget to confess. If the forgotten sins are real bad, just confess them next time, even though they were absolved already.

God is pleased that you merely show up to confess and want to speak about the sins you can remember. 

No need for a laundry list and don’t feel bad about things you forget. You can mention those at a later confession, even though they were absolved in the confession.

A written list can very easily get lost and be found by people who might recognize the sinner. Why risk it? If a person is that obsessed that they have to write a list, then I recommend that after the confession, they should be just as obsessed to make sure the list is destroyed. But I would have to say as a general rule that it is best to avoid having your sins on a piece of paper. God bless and take care, Fr. Angel