Skip to comments.How To Make a Good Confession (especially if you haven't gone in years)
Posted on 12/20/2005 11:38:54 AM PST by NYer
click here to read article
This pamphlet may be ordered here .
very timely and appreciated. The family is going this evening.
This is what held me back for many years. Thanks to the Internet and some truly awesome resources, discovering our sins is much easier. As we prepare for the glorious birth of our Lord, the final step should be to purge ourselves of sin. Mortal sins should be confessed first. Here is an examination of the less grievous sins.
Venial Sins and Imperfections*
* Imperfections are not sins so they do not need to be confessed. No distinction is made on this sheet between venial sins and imperfections because it is not always easy to make the distinction. Some things are imperfections because they are very small, other things are imperfections because they are dispositions of the soul and not willful actions or failures, still others because they are habitual.
1. I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.
- Failure to pray on a daily basis
- Not trying to love God with my whole mind, heart, soul and strength
- Trying to control things rather than seek God’s will
- Entertaining doubts against the Faith
- Failing to seek out or learn the teachings of the Church
- Indifference or ingratitude to God
- Lukewarmness in the relationship with God
- Not trying to grow spiritually; being content with mediocrity
- Acedia (spiritual sloth)
- Putting other things or people before God, e.g., TV, radio, sports, hobbies, etc.
- Attachment to human respect or affection, i.e., caring more about what others think than what God thinks in order to fit in or be liked
- Not trusting God
- Failure to fulfill the duties of one’s state in life
- Playing Dungeons and Dragons or similar games
- Tempting God
- Being angry at God
- Embarrassment of being Catholic
- Failure to defend the Church when ridiculed
- Failure to support the work of the Church monetarily and/or with time and ability
- Not taking part in the work of evangelization
- Being willfully distracted at Mass or in prayer
- Putting off confession needlessly
- Failing to accept or offer up suffering
- Refusing or denying the mercy of God
- Not trying to practice recollection or the frequent remembrance of God’s presence
- Failure to pray when tempted
- Failure to examine one’s conscience daily
- Giving into depression, self pity or self deprecating thoughts
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- Using the Lord’s name lightly, in surprise or in anger (habitual, not thinking)
- Cursing thoughtlessly
- Using the names of Mary, a Saint, the Pope or other sacred persons irreverently
- Using vulgar or inappropriate language
- Telling bad jokes about sacred persons or objects
- Speaking badly of the Church
- Inappropriate or irreverent use of Scripture
3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
- Doing unnecessary work on Sunday
- Failing to keep Sunday as a day for family and recreation
- Failing to spend extra time on Sunday in prayer and study of the Faith
- Allowing sports or other schedules to dictate the Sunday schedule
- Being irreverent in church
- Not paying attention or participating at Mass
- Coming late to Mass or leaving early without a serious reason
- Desecrating the day by sinful amusements, bad company, inappropriate entertainment, etc.
4. Honor your father and mother.
- Fighting with siblings
- Disobedience to parents or authorities
- Failure to give proper respect to parents or those in authority
- Treating those under one’s authority disrespectfully
- Failure to respect the dignity of children
- Speaking badly about parents
- Speaking badly about children
- Speaking badly about one’s spouse
- Neglecting duties toward spouse or children
- Failing to give good example to one’s family
- Not trying to cultivate peace in the family
- Taking one’s spouse for granted
- Making fun of or failing to help the elderly or handicapped
- Not praying for those entrusted to your care
- Failing to pray for those in authority over you, e.g., parents, teachers, employers, government officials, etc.
- Failure to teach children adequately about God and the spiritual life
- Lack of gratitude toward parents
- Nagging spouse or children
- Treating adult children like minors
- Meddling in the affairs of married children
- Too lax with rules, boundaries and discipline
- Too strict with rules, boundaries and discipline
- Breaking just civil laws without serious reason
- Being ashamed of or embarrassed about parents
5. You shall not kill.
- Pride, arrogance
- Stubbornness without good reason
- Failure to apologize
- Fighting or arguing over slight matters
- Using obscene or vulgar gestures
- Harboring a grudge
- Seeking revenge or retaliation
- Wishing evil upon another
- Listening to bad music
- Excessive watching of television
- Excessive playing of computer games
- Excessive use of the internet
- Watching TV or movies that promote sex or violence
- Playing computer games that promote sex or violence
- Refusing to forgive another
- Intemperance (overeating or drinking too much)
- Driving carelessly
- Failing to care for one’s health
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Abusing medications
- Sloth (laziness)
- Lack of puncuality
- Failure to respect the dignity of self or others
- Giving scandal to another
- Treating another unjustly
- Failure to take medications if such are necessary
- Doing things willfully to anger others
- Violating friendships
- Failure to pray for deceased parents or relatives
- Using the “silent treatment” on others
- Failure to pray for sinners
6. You shall not commit adultery.
- Lack of custody of the eyes (looking inappropriately at others)
- Allowing the heart to stray from one’s spouse
- Dressing somewhat immodestly
- Acting or carrying oneself immodestly
- Treating others as objects
- Failure to respect persons of the opposite sex
- Seeking wrongful attention from another
- Selfishness in marital intimacy
- Failure to be open to life without serious reason
- Keeping bad company
7. You shall not steal.
- Attachments to persons or things
- Theft of small or inexpensive items
- Willful Failure to return borrowed items
- Wasting time
- Failure to pay debts promptly
- Failing to practice charity or to help the poor
- Squandering money on needless things or pursuits
- Not keeping a promise
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- Spreading rumors or tale bearing
- Talking behind another’s back
- Being negative, critical or uncharitable in thought regarding others
- Making rash judgments
- Being unjustly suspicious
- Failure to seek to restore the good name of another whom you have injured through speech
- Cheating in games, school work, etc.
- Speaking unkindly to or about others
- Exaggerating the truth
- Bragging or boasting
- Complaining, whining or attention seeking
9. You shall not desire your neighbor’s wife.
- Telling or listening to impure or vulgar jokes or stories
- Brief entertainment of impure thoughts or fantasies
- Not trying to control the imagination
- Curiosity or playing with temptation
- Seeking out or looking at persons or pictures which are immodest
10. You shall not desire your neighbor’s goods.
- Envy (sadness or anger at the good fortune of another)
- Jealousy (desire for the goods of another)
- Not trusting that God will provide for all material and spiritual needs
- Attachment to riches or material goods
Awesome list, NYer!
Our parish is also having Reconciliation this evening, after the Christmas Novena.
Is that a pamphlet that you can just hand to the Priest?
Both of these lists were compiled by Fr. Robert Altieri and have been given an imprimatur. They are an excellent guide to see beyond our own pride (hey, I'm very guilty of that!) and discern our failings. Approaching Confession is then refreshing. It also helps to remind ourselves that the priest acts as 'alter christus'. It's taken years of work to make this all click in my head.
If your priest hasn't been to Confession for a while, what could it hurt him?
That's a really good list. Thanks NYer. I think most of us are guilty of something under most of these on a regular basis. I know I am.
According to NYer's post above....you will be keeping the confessional busy for hours.
But I went in with some of these from a really good examination of conscience and was told by the (wonderful, btw) priest that I was too hard on myself and they are not mortal sins. He told me to stick with the ten commandments and not to look too hard. If something is repetative and I am intentionally doing it to hurt God, it's a mortal sin but something like over indulging on goodies for the Holidays is not.
I think that some of these lists just go too far. Especially when there are some parishes that finding confessions is a hit or miss thing. I think that it gives undo guilt and may keep someone from the Eucharist when a Good Act of Contrition will cover it.
Okay, flame away, I'm ducking.
Are you thinking of scrupulosity? It's classified under OCD.
Fortunately for me, I just have to deal with my temper. (-;
(And Father's constant admonition to pray!)
Mortal sins must be confessed, while venial sins should be confessed (but don't have to be). I think you are right to confess them. St John Vianney and St Padre Pio certainly would tell you to confess them. Maybe your wonderful priest was just a little tired that day.
Hope you have a merry Christmas. And thanks to those who posted these examinations.
"...over indulging on goodies for the Holidays is not."
LOL! After a marathon baking session today, I have to ask when the Christmas fast begins..tomorrow...please? Or Friday?
So smoking is a mortal sin? I had better tell my mother in laws priest. He likes his pipe.
>>Maybe your wonderful priest was just a little tired that day.<<
Maybe. He was one of 12 Priests pulled in for our Christmas confessions. We all love him because he was a child at our parish, he was assigned to us then moved to another parish. His line was the longest of all.
Along with that, we still go into confessionals. I know many people are comfortable with face to face but I'm not. Many older people are not either from what I can see from our waiting lines. And this was the morning session. The evening session is ALWAYS packed.
More than anything, I was there for the Sacramental Pennance connected with the Plenary Indulgence. I really don't want to just walk in and say, "I'm just here for the Indulgence!" It sounds so shallow.
I am very blessed to be at a parish that offers confessions 1/2 hour before every Holy Mass. Six on Sunday, three on weekdays. While I hear stories of people coming to church for confession and finding no priest, I can go every day. Thank You Holy Lord!
I would say Friday at Sundown, but who am I?
(eat quickly! ;-)
>>Is that a pamphlet that you can just hand to the Priest?<<
A checklist! That's the ticket!
He's right! These are not mortal but venial sins. We are obliged to confess mortal sins but an examination of conscience should take place on a daily basis and those sins purged as well. This is not intended to be scrupulosity!
Now if you think the above list is daunting, consider the following from a Russian Orthodox web site. (They didn't earn the name 'orthodox' from being lax :-).
During Great Lent, and the other fasts of the Church Year, it is customary for all Orthodox Christians to go to confession to their priest. Properly this should be done several times a year, the exact frequency depending upon how often one is blessed to receive the Holy Mysteries and on the counsel and blessing of one's spiritual father. As a preparation for this sacramental confession and to help one examine one's conscience before coming to confession, the following questions are sometimes distributed in parishes and, although of course the list is not exhaustive, it may be a help to those of our readers who are Orthodox Christians.
Do you pray to God in the morning and evening, before and after meals?
During prayer have you allowed your thoughts to wander?
Have you rushed or gabbled your prayers? or when reading in church?
Do you read the Scriptures daily? Do you read other spiritual writings regularly?
Have you read books whose content is not Orthodox or even anti-Orthodox, or is spiritually damaging?
Have you pronounced the name of God without reverence, joking? Have you asked God's help before starting every activity?
Have you made the sign of the Cross carelessly, thoughtlessly? Have you sworn? Have you murmured against God?
Have you sinned by forgetting God?
Have you been slack in attending church?
Have you consecrated even part of the feast days, particularly Sundays and the Twelve Great Feasts, to God?
Have you tried your best to attend church on these days? or have you spent them more sinfully than ordinary days?
If unable to attend church for some reason, have you nonetheless tried to devote some part of these days to prayer and spiritual reading?
Have you joined with people not of the Faith in prayer, or attended their worship services?
Have you kept the fasts?
Have you behaved irreverently in church, or before the clergy and monastics?
Have you laughed or talked in church, or moved about unnecessarily, thus also distracting other people from prayer?
Have dressed modestly and in a becoming manner when in church?
Have you tried to pay reverent attention to the readings, hymns, and prayers in church?
Have you striven to pray with the service, crossing yourself, etc., or have you rather simply stood and day-dreamed?
Have you prepared for the services beforehand, looking up the Scriptural readings, making sure you have the texts to follow the service etc., especially if the service will be in a language you do not readily understand?
Have you ever left church after the Divine Services, and particularly after receiving the Holy Mysteries and immediately engaged in light talk and thus forgotten the blessings and graces you have received?
Have you been ashamed of your Faith or the sign of the Cross in the presence of others?
Have you made a show of your piety?
Have you used your Orthodox Faith or its teachings merely to browbeat others or belittle them?
Have you used it as a shield or excuse for your own inadequacies rather than humbling yourself?
Have you believed in dreams, fortune telling, astrology, signs and other superstitions?
Do you give thanks to the Lord for all things?
Have you ever doubted God's providence concerning yourself?
Do you at least try to perceive His purpose in all the things that come upon you?
Do you respect and obey your parents?
Have you offended them by rudeness or contradiction?
(These two apply also to priests, superiors, teachers and elders.)
Have you insulted anyone?
Have you quarreled or fought with anyone? Have you hit anyone?
Are you always respectful to old people?
Are you ever angry, bad tempered or irritable?
Have you called anyone names? Do you use foul language?
Have you derided any that are disabled, poor, old or in some way disadvantaged?
Have you entertained bad feelings, ill will or hatred against anyone?
Have you forgiven those who have offended you?
Have you asked forgiveness from those whom you have offended?
Are you at peace with everyone?
Have you left the needy without help when you could have helped?
Have you attended the sick or elderly when they have asked you to do so?
Have you shown kindness and attention to all, remembering that God is expecting just such an attitude from you?
Have you hit animals without a cause or been cruel to them, or neglectful of those in your care?
Have you stolen anything?
Have you taken or used other people's things without asking?
Have you kept money or things that were lent you without returning them?
Have you wasted your employers' time or resources? Have you taken things from work for your own use, used the firm's phone or other facilities for your own purposes without permission or repayment?
Are you obstinate, and do you always try to have your own way?
Have you been inconsiderate of other people's feelings?
Have you tried to have your revenge against those who have offended you?
Have you harboured resentment? Have you deceived people?
Have you gossiped?
Have you told untruths?
Have you judged and condemned others?
Have you taken pains before approaching for confession to be reconciled with all?
Have you been proud? Do you boast of your abilities, achievements, family, connections or riches?
Do you consider yourself worthy before God?
Are you vain, ambitious? Do you try to win praise and glory?
Do you bear it easily when you are blamed, scolded or treated unjustly? Do you think too much about your looks, outward appearance and the impression you make?
Have you sinned in thought, word or deed, by a look or glance, or in any other way against the seventh commandment? (Adultery, fornication, all extra-marital sexual relationships with others, masturbation, engaging in unnatural sexual acts, fantasizing, pornography, etc.)
Have you envied anyone anything? Have you been over-sensitive?
Have you been lazy? Have you done your duties heartily?
Have you wasted your time, energy or abilities in things that do not profit the soul?
Have you become obsessive about anything? Have you been despondent or listless?
Have you had thoughts of committing suicide?
Have you brought a curse on yourself or others or ill-wished them, being impatient?
Have you a weakness for alcohol? Have you drunk too much, or become dependent on drink?
Have you taken drugs, other than necessary medicines? Have you smoked?
Have you watched television too much or indiscriminately? Have you given yourself up to any other similar pastime which wastes your time and energy and might have harmed you?
Have you been greedy, either with regard to food or to possessions?
Have you indulged in comfort-eating? Have you become accustomed to eating between meals?
Have you been picky about your food, or wasteful of foods, forgetting that so many people are without proper nourishment? Have you been extravagant? Have you been wasteful?
Do you care for and seek first the salvation of your soul, the spiritual life and the kingdom of God, or have you put earthly considerations in the first place?
Is there any other sin, which burdens your conscience, or which you are ashamed to tell?
Anyone preparing for confession must ask God to help him resolve to tell all his sins. A penitent should prepare for confession and collect his thoughts regarding his sins at least a day before confession. The most valuable thing in the eyes of God is the confession of the sin which weighs most on the conscience.
The questions listed are intended to help the Orthodox Christian examine himself and identify the symptoms of his spiritual ills; they should not be taken as some kind of test to ascertain how well we are doing as if there was a certain "pass-mark." Before God's perfections, we shall always fail. It is for that reason that, as believing Christians, we throw ourselves on the mercy of the Lord and do not trust in our own righteousness.
Remember that our sins can never outweigh God's love towards us. Even if we should seem to have failed with regard to all the points mentioned above and more, we should not lose heart but confess our sins unshamefacedly, we should regret the wrongs we have done, be resolved to make amends, and receive whatever remedy our confessor should be guided to lay upon us. Most of all, one should be assured of the blessing of God which these endeavours will bring upon you.
Thanks for this list of venial sins/imperfections, it is probably the most comprehensive I've ever seen.
I'd have to go to confession everyday, twice a day!
No. The pamphlet is a step by step guide to Confession, including the Act of Contrition. The Act of Contrition is a very important prayer. It asks God to forgive us and bring us closer to Him. Catholics should pray it on a daily basis.
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee,
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 Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
Another great post.
Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been _____ since my last confession.
Tell all your sins no matter how small even imperfections.
Confess what you have done and what you have failed to do.
Think of the following:
The Corporal Works of Mercy
Feed the hungry. Shelter the homeless.
Give drink to the thirsty. Visit the sick.
Clothe the naked. Visit the imprisoned.
Bury the dead.
The Spirtual Works of Mercy
Help the Sinner. Bear wrongs patiently.
Teach the ignorant. Forgive injuries.
Counsel the doubtful. Comfort the sorrowful.
Pray for the living and the dead.
If I start now, I'll be done by mid 2006.
Dang, that's a lot to confess. I'll need a young preist with a good heart and stamina.
and a good sense of humor....
So, I just came home from the mall. Let me say, don't go there if you don't absolutely have to!!!
One guy said (and he was lying!!!), "I have the body of a 18 year old!"
And I replied, "Stuffed in the trunk of your car?"
He didn't laugh.
I don't know why!?
Additionally, the Hebrew translation of the Fifth Commandment is, "You shall not murder." A huge distinction from kill.
However, if you are a registered Democrat, you will be refused absolution
This is a good point! Consider that the pope goes to confession on a very regular basis, as did the saints. Have you ever pondered what type of sins they confessed?
It's so easy to lull ourselves into a false sense of 'clear conscience' because we didn't murder someone, profane a Church or steal money from our employer. And that is what keeps so many catholics away from confession. Think of it this way. If you were to be die tonight, wouldn't you want your soul to be as clean as possible? Reconciliation is a Sacrament that imparts graces.
It took me a long time to return to confession because I sold myself on the notion that I was a "good" person. Now, when I look at Fr. Altier's list of mortal sins, I can see just how delusional I had been. It's an easy trap into which one can fall. After all, our 'pride' is at stake; it's embarrasing to confess our failings. Then again, 'pride' is itself, a sin.
The list posted above are 'venial' sins. Let your priest enjoy his pipe.
That is very well stated and encouraging. I think your attitude is the best one for a Christian to take. Thanks!
Someone made the point that it would take a long time after going through this list. The confession of venial sins in the Confessional is not necessary. HOWEVER, if we desire to grow spiritually, we grow in steps. Early in our walk, we will figure out where we fall often.
By figuring out our "core" sin, the one we return to often, we can eliminate it. This is the purpose of confessing venial sins in Confession - to help eliminate their re-commission.
Wanna really great tape on Confession? Fr. Larry Richards has one on http://www.Catholicity.com for nothing! He does a great explanation of sin, explains what the sacrament is for and then goes through his unbelieveable "checklist" in rapid fire for those who haven't been in a while. His talk is geared towards teens, it's true, but he packs them in after they hear his talk (sometimes hours at a time).
I listen to this tape once in a while just to keep current. And, yes, not praying daily IS a mortal sin! Would you treat your spouse or anyone else that way? I doubt that you would.
"You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and your whole mind and your whole soul."
Ummmm, I think if I used this examination of conscience I'd be in trouble with my Spiritual Father! :)
"Now if you think the above list is daunting, consider the following from a Russian Orthodox web site. (They didn't earn the name 'orthodox' from being lax :-)."
I should have read this examination before the Roman Catholic one. Its virtually identical to the one my SF has given me to use. I won't get into trouble with him for this one! :)
Yes! Absolutely! They are like small embers smouldering away just waiting for a dose of fuel that will make them flare up. Confession douses even the smallest ember.
Every evening we ought review our day and say a sincere act of contrition. Sometimes a list such NYer's, read on occasion, can help us recognize failings we didn't even realize we had.
Only recently, I began praying the Maronite Divine Office, divided into evening and morning prayers. The Evening Prayers (Ramsho) include an Examination of Conscience followed by an Act of Contrition. As Sandyeggo pointed out, a daily reflection of conscience is a tremendous aid in recognizing our shortcomings and streamlining the list for our next Confession.
Having just returned from Reconciliation, followed by the Christmas Novena, I can attest to the awesome sense of joy that comes from this Sacrament. It is especially comforting to have a pastor who can zoom in like a laser beam on any one trouble spot and serve as a Spiritual Director. Like the Good Shepherd, he knows his flock and guides each and every one of them to Jesus Christ. Some, unfortunately, choose to go it alone. On them, he keeps a keen eye and reins them in through his homilies and prayers. After so many years wandering through the desert, our Lord has led me to a truly holy man. What a blessing!
Ping and thanks.
Whew. Got my son to go to Confession last night - it's been about 2 years for him. Teenagers can be tough. He wasn't struck by lightening - I think he was encouraged :)
I had a little pamphlet book on Confession to help him out and refresh his memory.
We had 4 priests on deck last night for Confessions and they're going to be doing the same thing all week from 7 pm until they're finished.
One thing that usually discourages me is to try to go to Confession and wait in line...then the priest is only there for 30 minutes and you don't get heard. Being able to go and know you'll be heard is worth the wait.
We are truly Blessed!
"I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life."
A little lax, compared with the old Latin version.
Ideo firmiter propono, adiuvante gratia Tua, de cetero me non peccaturum, peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum.
An excellent and timely post! We received the sacrament last Saturday. And the links to examining one's conscience are always appreciated.
Ping! You may have seen this already, but it bears repeating! ;-)
Marked for reference. Thanks.
Lol ... it doesn't get any easier. Since Confession is mandatory prior to receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, my daughter couldn't escape. They probably wonder how 'doing what everyone else is doing', could be a sin. Since then, a team of wild horses couldn't drag her back.
Thank you for this, NYer. Merry Christmas.
See #35 in this thread!
Noel and S/F!