An Examination of Conscience for Lent
reflecting on Christ’s Suffering and Passion on the Cross
by Fr Dylan James
“The Cross exemplifies every virtue” (St Thomas Aquinas)
How do our lives compare with what Christ has shown us?
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.
3. Confess your sins to the priest.
4. Make certain that you confess all your mortal sins and the number of them.
5. After confession, do the penance the priest gives to you.
ACT OF CONTRITION
O my God, 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, and to amend my life. 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?
or, Have I omitted to look for and respond to the needs of family?
Thought: “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.
Christ loved us on the Cross: “Greater love than this has no one than to lay down his life for his friends”(Jn 15:13)
How have I failed to love?
Christ put our needs before His own, that we might be saved
“Each of you must think of others’ needs before your own”(Phil 2:4)
Have I been attentive to the needs of my neighbour, and the needs of my family?
Have I been lazy in helping others?
Have I been generous in giving to others?
Have I used people for my own ends and advantage?
Has my conversation been focussed on my own pleasure, or on others?
Has my humour 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 Discipline:
Have I wasted other people’s time by being late?
Have I sinned against God and the congregation by being late for Mass?
Christ forgave His murderers, even as He hung on the Cross, saying, “Father, forgive them”(Lk 23:34)
Have I been slow to forgive others?
Have I harboured resentment, grudges, and hatred in my thoughts?
Have I nurtured imaginary angry conversations?
Have I lost my temper?
Have I borne hated for another?
Have I judged others in my thoughts?
Have I damaged the reputation of another person by my words, attitude, or looks?
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?
Lies: Have I lied or exaggerated?
Christ did the will of the Father, saying, “Not my will by Yours be done”(Lk 22:42)
Have I sought God and His will 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?
Christ was patient on the Cross, bearing it for our sakes
How have I carried my cross?
Have I been willing to suffer in my service of others?
Have I grumbled and complained? C.f. “Do everything without grumbling or arguing”(Phil 2:14)
Have I been impatient with people, family, events, sufferings, sicknesses?
Christ trusted in the Father, even as He died on the Cross, saying, “Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit”(Lk 23:46)
Have I trusted God, especially in times of difficulty?
Christ “despised earthly riches”, becoming “poor for our sake” (2 Cor 8 :9)
Have I ranked money and riches too highly?
Have I been overly concerned about my own comfort and well-being?
Have I been resentful of my lack of money?
Have I cheated, stolen, or failed to pay my bills on time?
Have I wasted money?
Have I envied or been jealous of the abilities, talents, ideas, good-looks, intelligence, clothes, possessions, money, friends, family, of others?
Christ “despised earthly pleasures” that He might give Himself in love for us
Have I been overly attached to pleasures of food or sex?
Have I eaten more than I need?
To how serious an extent?
Have I spent excessive money on food?
Have I drunk alcohol excessively?
Have driven after drinking?
Have I eaten greedily and with little consideration for those at table with me?
Have I given money to help the hungry?
Have I regularly practiced fasting and self-denial, especially on Fridays?
Have I abstained from meat on Fridays?
Have I always fasted an hour before receiving Holy Communion at Mass?
“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?
Pornography: On internet? or TV?
Have I entertained impure thoughts?
Impure Acts: Alone, or with another?
Christ prayed, even as He hung on the Cross
Have I neglected to say my daily prayers?
Have I entertained distractions in prayer?
Have I attended Mass each and every Sunday?
Have I done unnecessary servile work on a Sunday, or bought or sold things on a Sunday?
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?
Christ allowed Himself to be mocked by the soldiers, spat upon, and publically striped of his clothes
Have I been overly concerned about what others think of me? Have I allowed this to motivate my actions?
Have I lied or exaggerated to make myself look good?
Have I wasted undue time and money on clothes and appearance?
“Christ was humbler yet, even to accepting death on a cross”(Phil 2:8)
Have I been content with my lowly position, or have I resented the role that Christ asks of me?
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 refused to learn from others?
Do I despise others of different race, class or culture?
Have I been stubborn? Refused to admit I was wrong? Refused to accept that another person had a better idea?
Have I been arrogant?
Have I held others in contempt?
Pusillanimity –false humility:
Have I neglected to use the talents that God has given me?
Christ endured all things upon the Cross,
Have I persevered in the work God asks of me?
Have I made good use of my time, or have I wasted time needlessly? E.g. TV or internet?
Have I planned good use of relaxation and recreation, knowing that I need to rest well?
Have I gone to sleep on time?