5 Steps for a Good Confession
1. Examine your conscience – recall the sins that you have committed since your last good confession.
2. Be sincerely sorry for your sins. If you are having trouble with this, take time to meditate on Jesus suffering because of your sin.
3. Confess your sins to the priest.
4. Make certain that you confess all your mortal sins – number/kind.
5. After confession, do the penance assigned.
Act of Contrition – Purgative
Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, my Creator and Redeemer, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell, 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 confess my sins, to do penance, to avoid whatever leads me to sin, and to amend my life. Amen.
Act of Contrition – Illuminative and Unitive
Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, I love You above all else and I am sorry with all my heart for having offended You. I detest all my sins and imperfections because they offend You or hinder my love of You, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. To make up for my sins and shortcomings, I offer my life, all I do and all I suffer. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, to amend my life, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin, attachment, and disorder, and to seek with all my heart, by Your grace, to walk and live in the Way of perfection. Amen.
Sins of Omission
“In what I have done, and in what I have failed to do”- sins of omission may be more serious than sins of commission e.g. Have I omitted to say my prayers? Have I omitted to look for and respond to the needs of family?
“In thought, word, and deed” e.g. Even if I did not gossip in word, did I judge someone in my thoughts?
Each area of my life should be considered: e.g. My family, my friends, my work, my prayer, those I work and live with etc.
Seven Deadly Sins (Anagram: PLACES-G)
Pride/Narcissism, Lust, Anger, Covetousness, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony
Pride/Narcissism (ST II-II q162) – Pride is the mother of all sin.
- Have I refused to admit my own weaknesses?
- Have I dwelt on the failings of others?
- Have I judged others, in my thoughts or words?
- Have I ranked myself better than others?
- Have I borne hatred or disdain for another?
- Have I refused to learn from others?
- Have I been irritable with others?
- Have I been critical of others?
- Have I been slow to listen to others and quick to speak over them?
- Have I been stubborn? Refused to admit I was wrong?
- Have I refused to accept that another person had a better idea?
- Have I been arrogant?
- Have I held others in contempt?
- Have I reacted negatively when questioned?
Pusillanimity or Timidity or Cowardice – the opposite of pride:
- Have I neglected to use the talents that God has given me?
- Have I shied away from my duties or doing or saying what is right because of fear of how others will respond?
- Have I failed to give witness to my faith in Christ in public?
Vanity (an expression of pride) (ST II-II q132) – Vanity is excessive concern about what others think of me –not just what they think of my appearance.
- Have I been overly concerned about what others think of me? Have I allowed this to motivate my actions?
- Have I failed to follow God’s will because of a fear of what others might think of me?
- Have I lied or exaggerated to make myself look good?
- Have I wasted undue time and money on clothes and appearance?
- Have I been content with my lowly position, or have I resented the role that Christ asks of me?
- Do I constantly take selfies or spend time primping and correcting my hair, clothing or other aspects of my appearance?
Lust (ST II-II q.153; CCC 2351) – Lust is disordered desire for sexual pleasure, isolated from its procreative and unitive purpose (CCC 2351).
- Have I maintained custody of my eyes or have I allowed them to wander?: “Whoever looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:28)
- Have I viewed other people as mere sexual objects rather than as persons to be loved and served?
- Have I viewed pornography or related sexual or sexualized material on internet? or TV? or Social Media?
- Have I engaged in romantic fiction leading to sexual fantasy?
- Have I entertained impure thoughts?
- Have I engaged in masturbation, alone, or with another?
Anger/Wrath (ST II-II q158) – Anger is undue desire for vengeance – undue in cause or in amount.
- Have I harbored resentment, grudges, and hatred in my thoughts?
- Have I nurtured imaginary angry conversations?
- Have I been slow to forgive?
- Have I lost my temper?
- How have I carried my cross without complaint or self-pity?
- Have I been impatient with people, family, events, sufferings, sicknesses?
Covetousness/Avarice (ST II-II q118) – Avarice is the excessive love of possessing things.
- Have I been overly concerned about my own comfort and well-being?
- Have I been resentful of my lack of money or resources?
- Have I been generous in giving? Have I given with a cheerful heart?
- Have I avoided sacrificial giving? Do I only give what is easy to give?
- Have I cheated, stolen, or failed to pay my bills on time?
- Have I used people for my own ends and advantage?
- Have I wasted money on things I don’t absolutely need?
Envy/Jealousy (ST II-II q36) – Envy –is sadness at the happiness of another.
Have I envied or been jealous of the abilities, talents, ideas, good-looks, intelligence, clothes, possessions, money, friends, family, of others?
- Have I judged others in my thoughts?
- Have I damaged the reputation of another person by my words, attitude, or looks/reactions/responses?
- Have I repeated accusations that might not be true? Have I exaggerated?
- Have I failed to defend the reputation of others?
- Have I failed to keep secrets?
- Do I despise others of different race, class or culture?
Lies: Have I lied, exaggerated, or distorted the truth?
Sloth/Apathy (ST II-II q35) – Laziness, especially in the things of God. Sloth is a sorrow in the face of spiritual good -it makes you lethargic and want to do nothing and/or it drives you to neglect spiritual goods.
- Have I sought God above all else, or have I put other priorities ahead of him? (e.g. friendships, ambition, comfort and ease)
- Have I got so caught up in the things of this world that I’ve forgotten God?
- Have I risked losing my faith/piety by bad company, bad reading, cowardice, or pride?
- Have I trusted God, especially in times of difficulty?
- Have I attended Mass each and every Sunday?
- Have I neglected to say my daily prayers?
- Have I entertained distractions in prayer, or failed to give God due concentration in prayer or in the Mass? (Note: Not giving God the effort He deserves in prayer is a sin, but it is not the same thing as involuntary weakness in mental distractions.)
- Have I made a prayerful preparation before Mass and a good thanksgiving after Mass?
- Have I received Holy Communion while in a state of serious sin?
- Have I neglected to seek Confession before Holy Communion?
- Have I taken the Lord’s name in vain? Or used other foul language?
- Have I been lazy in helping others?
- Have I been attentive to the needs of my neighbor, the needs of my extended or immediate family?
- Has my conversation been focussed on my own pleasure, or on others?
- Has my humor been insensitive to others?
- Have I been more focussed on myself than on the needs of others?
- Have I spent time with my family? How have I manifested my concern for them? Have I been forgiving and tolerant of them? Have I scandalized them by a bad or lazy example?
Punctuality and Self-Discipline:
- Have I wasted other people’s time or dishonoured them by being late or have I failed to keep my commitments regarding being on time?
- Have I sinned against God and the congregation by being late for Mass?
- Have I gone to sleep on time?
- Have I made good use of my time, or have I wasted time needlessly? e.g. cell phone, TV, gaming, or internet?
- Have I planned good use of relaxation and recreation, knowing that I need to rest well in order to serve well?
Gluttony (ST II-II q148) – Gluttony is the inordinate or excessive desire for, focus on, attachment to, or use of food or other material goods.
- Have I consumed more than I need to – more than my body needs to maintain a healthy weight?
- Have I consumed food or drink that is damaging to my body to satisfy my tastes or appetites?
- Have I spent time engaging with food (or other material things) or fantasizing about food (or other material things) that should be spent elsewhere?
- Have I spent excessive money on food?
- Have I consumed alcohol excessively? Have I driven after drinking?
- Have I eaten greedily with little consideration for those at table with me?
- Have I failed to give money to help the hungry?
- Have I failed to practice fasting and self-denial, especially on Fridays?
- Have I failed to abstain from meat on Fridays?
- Have I always fasted an hour before receiving Holy Communion at Mass?
- Do I spend excessive energy and expense seeking to ensure my food or environment is perfectly to my desires (temperature, texture, atmosphere)?
- Do I spent excessive energy and expense seeking comfort?
The Ten Commandments:
(1) I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.
(2) You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.
(3) Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
(4) Honour your father and your mother.
(5) You shall not kill.
(6) You shall not commit adultery.
(7) You shall not steal.
(8) You shall not bear false witness.
(9) You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife.
(10) You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.