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The Sacrament of Reconciliation

A Complete Step-by-Step Guide

Five Steps for a Good Confession

  1. Examine your conscience thoroughly
  2. Be sincerely sorry for your sins
  3. Confess your sins to the best of your ability
  4. Resolve to amend your life
  5. After your confession, do the penance the priest gives you

Procedure in the Confessional

The priest may prompt you to begin. You respond: "Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been (mentioned the time lapse since your last confession here) and these are my sins."

Start listing all your mortal sins first and the number of times you have committed these sins.

Then proceed to mention some of your venial sins. When you are finished, you should say "For these and all the sins of my past life, especially for my sins of __________ I am truly sorry."

The priest may give you some advice, and then will assign your penance and ask you to say an "Act of Contrition". You then wait for his absolution.

After the absolution, thank the priest and go do your penance; preferably before the Blessed Sacrament.

Examination of Conscience


  1. Serious matter
  2. Knowledge or firm belief that the act is seriously wrong prior to committing the act
  3. Full consent of the will

All three of these conditions must be present simultaneously for a sin to be mortal. This means that if you did not know that the act was seriously wrong, then you did not commit a mortal sin.


I am the Lord Your God. You Shall Not Have Strange Gods Before Me

  1. Did I deny or doubt God's existence?
  2. Did I refuse to believe God's revelation?
  3. Did I believe in horoscopes, fortune telling, dreams, good luck charms or reincarnation or other occult practices?
  4. Did I deny that I was a Catholic?
  5. Did I leave the Catholic faith?
  6. Was I involved in the New Age Movement, Eastern Religions, atheism or agnosticism?
  7. Was I guilty of apostasy
  8. Did I belong to a schismatic group
  9. Was I involved with the Freemasons or other secret societies?
  10. Did I despair of or presume on God's mercy?
  11. Did I receive Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin?
  12. Did I presume in God's mercy by committing sins and then expecting absolution by going to confession?
  13. Did I hate God?
  14. Was I guilty of simony (the buying or selling of blessed and Holy items
  15. Did I fail to receive Holy Communion at least once a year, especially during Easter?
  16. Did I neglect prayer for a long time?


You Shall Not Take the Name of the Lord Your God in Vain

  1. Did I blaspheme God or take God's name in vain, curse or break an oath or vow?
  2. Did I wish evil on another person?
  3. Have I slandered or insulted a sacred person or object?
  4. Did I lie or withhold a serious sin during confession?
  5. Have I lied under oath?


Remember to Keep Holy the Lord's Day

  1. Did I miss Mass on Sunday or Holyday of Obligation through my own fault?
  2. Am I always reverent in the presence of Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament?
  3. Was I inattentive at Mass?
  4. Did I come to Mass late?
  5. How late?
  6. Did I leave Mass early?
  7. Did I do unnecessary physical work on Sunday?
  8. Did I require my employees to work on Sunday?
  9. Did I eat meat on Fridays of Lent or Ash Wednesday?
  10. Did I fast as required on Ash Wednesday?
  11. Did I fail to confess at least once a year?
  12. Did I go to Holy Communion without fasting (water and medicine permitted) for one hour from food and drink?
  13. Did I make a bad confession?
  14. Did I fail to contribute to the support of the Church?


Honor Your Father and Mother

  1. Have I failed to care for my aged parents?
  2. Did I disobey or disrespect my parents or legitimate superiors?
  3. Did I neglect my duties to my husband, wife, or children?
  4. Did I fail to actively taken an interest in the religious education and formation of my children?
  5. Have I failed to educate myself on the true teachings of the Church?
  6. Have I abused or been guilty of serious neglect of my children?
  7. Have I failed to carry out the Last Will and Testament of my deceased parent


You Shall Not Kill

  1. Have I committed murder or manslaughter?
  2. Did I physically injure anyone?
  3. Have I had an abortion or advised someone to have an abortion?
  4. Regarding abortion, check with your priest to see if you were automatically excommunicated. The excommunication must be lifted first before going to confession.
  5. Did I knowingly vote for someone who is pro-abortion
  6. Did I participate in or approve of the grave evil known as "mercy killing"?
  7. Did I attempt suicide?
  8. Did I give scandal by what I said or did, especially to the young?
  9. Was I the cause of anyone leaving the faith?
  10. Am I guilty of driving dangerously or recklessly?
  11. Did I give bad example, abuse drugs, drink alcohol to excess, fight or quarrel?
  12. Have I been engaged in unjust lawsuits?
  13. Have I been guilty of bigotry?


You Shall Not Commit Adultery

  1. Did I willfully entertain impure thoughts and desires?
  2. Did I dress immodestly?
  3. Did I use impure or suggestive words?
  4. Did I tell impure stories?
  5. Did I listen to them?
  6. Did I deliberately look at impure things, TV, videos, plays, pictures, or movies?
  7. Did I deliberately read impure material?
  8. Did I commit an impure act by myself or with another?
  9. Which acts?
  10. Did I marry or advise another to marry outside the church?
  11. Did I abuse my marriage rights?
  12. Was I unfaithful to my marriage vows?
  13. Have I kept company with someone else's spouse?
  14. Did I practice artificial birth control or was I or my spouse sterilized?
  15. Was I impatient, angry, envious, unkind, proud, jealous, revengeful, hateful toward others, lazy?


You Shall Not Steal

  1. Did I give a full day's work in return for my full day's pay?
  2. Did I give a fair wage to my employee?
  3. Have I stolen anything?
  4. Have I failed to make restitution?
  5. Have I gambled to excess?
  6. Have I taken advantage of the poor, simple, inexperienced or less fortunate?
  7. Have I failed to help the poor or needy when I am able to do so
  8. Did I steal, cheat, help or encourage others to steal, or keep stolen goods?
  9. Have I made restitution for stolen goods?
  10. Did I fulfill my contracts, give or accept bribes, pay my bills, deprive my family of necessities of life?


You Shall Not Bear False Witness Against Your Neighbor

  1. Did I tell lies?
  2. Deliberately to deceive?
  3. Or injure others by lies?
  4. Did I commit perjury?
  5. Was I uncharitable in word or deed, gossip or reveal others' faults and sins?
  6. Did I fail to keep secrets I should have?


You Shall Not Desire Your Neighbor's Wife

  1. Have I looked at pornography either in books or on the screen
  2. Have I dwelled on impure thoughts or fantasies for the purpose of arousal?
  3. Have I willfully lusted after another?


You Shall Not Desire Your Neighbor's Goods

  1. Have I been guilty of greed or avarice?
  2. Did I steal or destroy the goods belonging to another?

The 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 to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.

Prayer for Daily Neglect

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with all its love, all its sufferings and all its merits.

First: To expiate all the sins I have committed this day and during all my life. Gloria Patri.

Second: To purify the good I have done poorly this day and during all my life. Gloria Patri.

Third: To supply for the good I ought to have done, and that I have neglected this day and all my life. Gloria Patria.

A Poor Clare, who just died, appeared to her Abbess who was praying for her, and said to her: "I went straight to heaven, for, by means of this prayer, recited every evening, I paid all my debts."

  1. Father Altier's Examination of Conscience
  2. Father John Hardon's - Choosing the Right Confessor
  3. Father John Hardon's - The Spiritual and Psychological Value of Frequent Confession
  4. Father John Hardon's - The Problem of First Confession
  5. Guide to Confession

This site was last updated on July 16, 2006.

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