Sinless and holy, the first man Adam possessed wisdom, a heart of love and the will to do right, resulting in a harmonious relationship between God and himself. It was a perfect relationship that would last for eternity if Adam understood that the oneness he shared with God was bound to one major factor—a belief in God’s word and, more importantly, obedience to it.
Regrettably Adam disobeyed God and, in one short step, sold us all into slavery to the devil and turned us all into slaves to sin. Approximately 2,000 years ago, however, God sent his only Son, Jesus, down to earth to save us. By his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection, Jesus freed us from the bondage of sin and the yoke of slavery to the devil. The only thing required of us to be reunited with the Father was to repent and be baptized. Repentance is vital to salvation.
Jesus began his ministry with a call to repentance. “Repent,” he said, “For the kingdom of heaven is near.” It was a call repeated right through Scripture, both by Jesus and his apostles. Many of us are not quite sure of what repentance is, however, believing that it mainly consists of being sorry. Not quite. Repentance involves abject remorse and contrition for one’s sins against God and a strong desire not only to change direction, but to change mind and heart as well. Without this desire to change, the sorrow is meaningless.
Without this desire to change, prayer is pretty meaningless too, because we will never be able to restore the harmonious relationship that God wants with us. Consequently, one element of prayer that is absolutely vital is a prayer of repentance; being extremely contrite for all the things we have done to hurt God and reinforcing this contrition with the resolution to never do anything to hurt Him again.
The following examination of conscience serves as a rough guide to things we might have done to hurt God. We should invite the Holy Spirit to reveal to us other things we might be doing that are offensive to Him.
A brief examination of conscience
Am I ignorant of my faith?
Have I been guilty of heresy?
Have I engaged in witchcraft or sorcery?
Have I engaged in New Age practices?
Have I used God’s name in vain by way of profanity?
Have I murmured or complained against God ?
Have I maligned priests or others who serve God?
Have I sworn by God’s name either falsely or rashly?
Have I broken any private vow?
Have I missed Mass on Sundays or holy days through my own fault?
Have I been inattentive at Mass or otherwise failed to show proper respect?
Have I failed to spend time every day with God in prayer?
Have I been disrespectful to my parents or neglected them?
Have I failed in obedience or reverence to others in authority?
Have I mistreated or neglected my wife or children?
Have I been disobedient or disrespectful to my husband?
Have I failed to care for the spiritual growth of my family?
Have I allowed them to neglect their religious duties?
Have I tolerated their keeping questionable company or relationships?
Have I failed to discipline my children?
Have I set a bad example to others?
Have I interfered with my children’s freedom to marry?
Have I interfered with my children’s freedom to follow a religious vocation?
Have I quarreled with any one?
Have I cursed anyone or otherwise wished evil on them?
Have I taken pleasure in anyone’s misfortune?
Have I refused to be reconciled to anyone?
Have I lied about anyone ?
Have I rash judged anyone of a serious sin?
Have I engaged in gossip or spread scandal?
Have I lent a ear to scandal about my neighbor?
Have I been jealous or envious of anyone?
Have I denied my spouse his or her marriage rights?
Have I practiced birth control?
Have I abused my marriage rights in any other way?
Have I committed adultery or fornication?
Have I touched or embraced another impurely?
Have I sinned with others of the same sex?
Have I committed masturbation or otherwise sinned impurely with myself?
Have I harbored lustful desires for anyone?
Have I indulged in other impure thoughts?
Have I failed to dress modestly?
Have I done anything to provoke or occasion impure thoughts in others?
Have I read indecent literature or looked at indecent pictures?
Have I watched suggestive films or programs?
Have I permitted my children or others under my charge to do these things?
Have I used indecent language or told indecent stories?
Have I willingly listened to such stories?
Have I boasted of my sins?
Have I sinned against chastity in any other way?
Have I stolen anything?
Have I damaged anyone’s property through my own fault?
Have I cheated or defrauded other?
Have I refused or neglected to pay any debts?
Have I neglected my duties or been slothful in my work?
Have I refused or neglected to help anyone in urgent necessity?
Have I failed to make restitution?
Have I knowingly caused others to sin?
Have I cooperated in the sins of others?
Have I sinned by gluttony?
Have I become intoxicated?
Have I abused drugs?
Have I been motivated by avarice?
Have I indulged in boasting or vain glory?
Have I received Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin?
Have I received any another sacrament in the state of mortal sin?
Have I had an abortion or encouraged others to have one?
Have I mutilated myself or otherwise abused my body?
Is there any other sin I need to confess?
Heavenly Father, I come before you once again in humility, truly repentant for all the sins I have committed against you. I try very hard to lead a life pleasing to you, Lord, but I repeatedly fail. I have no one to blame but myself. I am truly sorry, Father, and I ask you to forgive me for all the things that I have done to cause you pain. I promise you that I will try not to repeat my sins again. I thank you for your immense love that lets me approach you like this, even though my sin separates me from you. I thank you also for your mercy and compassion that wipes away all my sins when you see my repentant heart. Please do not bring me to the test, Father, but if you do, please grant me your grace to be able to pass it.
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