Resources: Examination of Conscience
Taken from Go in Peace: Your Guide to the Purpose and Power of Confession; 101 Questions and Answers, by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. and Sean Brown. Ascension Press.
First Commandment: I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:1-2) Also, see Matthew 4:10, 22:36-38; Mark 7:14-23
- Have I doubted or denied the existence of God?
- Have I lost hope of salvation or despaired of God's mercy?
- Have I refused to believe those things God has revealed in Scripture and Tradition?
- Have I engaged or believed in fortune telling, horoscopes, the occult, good-luck charms, tarot cards, palmistry, Ouija boards, séances, or reincarnation?
- Have I denied my Catholicism or refused to defend the Catholic Faith?
- Have I spent time in prayer on a daily basis?
- Have I ever received Communion in a state of mortal sin?
- Have I ever deliberately told a lie in Confession or have I withheld a mortal sin from the Priest in Confession?
- Am I addicted to any sort of chemical substance or any sort of self-indulgent behavior that alters my ability to be a free-thinking and free-choosing individual?
- Have I let hobbies or forms of leisure and entertainment become the most important aspects of my life?
Second Commandment: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. (Exodus 20:7) Also, see Matthew 5:33-37,22:36-38; Acts of the Apostles 19:13-17; Colossians 3:17
- Have I blasphemed or insulted God?
- Have I used God's name in vain, that is, in a careless or frivolous manner?
- Have I cursed someone by wishing evil upon them?
- Have I broken an oath or a vow, such as perjuring myself in a legal trial?
- Have I gotten angry at God?
- Have I insulted a sacred person or abused a sacred object?
- Do I hesitate to mention God's name in appropriate situations, in conversations with friends and family members, such as social and political discussions which have a religious dimension to them?
- Have I neglected learning more about God through study and reflection?
Third Commandment: Keep the Sabbath Day holy. (Exodus 20:8) Also, see Matthew 22:36-38; Mark 2:27-28; Hebrews 4:9
- Do I remember to attend Mass and make the effort to go every Sunday?
- Have I missed attending Mass on any Holy Day of obligation?
- Do I arrive at Mass on time? Do I leave early?
- When I participate in the Mass, do I focus on the liturgy and my prayers, or do I let my mind wander and dwell on unrelated subjects?
- Do I choose to work on Sundays when I am not obligated to?
- Do I disregard the religious observance of the Sabbath in general?
Fourth Commandment: Honor your father and mother. (Exodus 20:12) Also, see Matthew 15:4-6, 19:19, 22:39-40; Romans 13:9; 1st Corinthians 4:14-17; Ephesians 6:1-3
- Have I disobeyed authority, be it that of my parents, employer, government laws, or Church teaching?
- Did I neglect my duties to my husband, wife, children or parents?
- Did I neglect to give good religious example to my family?
- Did I fail to actively take an interest in the religious education and moral formation of my children?
- Do I set legitimate moral norms for my children and do I enforce the consequences of bad behavior?
- Did I cause tension and fights in my family? Did I care for my aged and infirm relatives? Have I disrespected or belittled the elderly?
Fifth Commandment: You shall not kill. (Exodus 20:13) Also, see Matthew 19:18, 22:39-40; Romans 13:9; Ephesians 4:31
- Have I killed or physically injured anyone?
- Have I had an abortion, or have I encouraged or assisted someone else to get one?
- Have I attempted to commit suicide?
- Do I support the right to suicide?
- Did I use or cause my spouse to use birth control pills (whether or not realizing that birth control pills do abort the fetus if and when conceived)?
- Have I taken part in or given my approval to a "mercy killing" (euthanasia)?
- Did I become angry, impatient, envious, unkind, proud, vengeful, jealous or hateful toward another?
- Have I engaged in unjustifiable physical violence toward others?
- Have I abused my children by violent or other means?
Sixth Commandment: You shall not commit adultery. (Exodus 20:14) Also, see Matthew 19:18, 22:39-40; Mark 7:22; Romans 13:9; Ephesians 5:3-4)
- Do I look at pornography or read romance novels for the purpose of enhancing my own self-indulgent fantasies?
- Did I use impure or suggestive words? Tell impure stories? Listen to them?
- Did I commit impure acts by myself (masturbation)?
- Did I commit impure acts with another- fornication (premarital sex), adultery (sex with a married person)?
- Have I engaged in homosexual activity?
- Do I treat my own spouse as an object of my personal sexual gratification?
- Have I practiced artificial birth control (by any means, including pills, devices, withdrawal)?
- Have I or has my spouse voluntarily been sterilized?
- Did I marry or advise anyone to marry outside the Church?
Seventh Commandment: You shall not steal. (Exodus 20:15) Also, see Matthew 19:18, 22:39-40; Mark 7:21; Romans 13:9; Ephesians 4:28
- Have I stolen other people's property?
- Have I helped or encouraged other persons to steal or keep stolen goods?
- Have I knowingly bought or kept goods that I knew were stolen by someone else?
- Have I made restitution for any goods that I have stolen, or returned goods that I knew were stolen by another?
- Have I failed to keep any contracts I have entered?
- When making a purchase, have I remained silent when recognizing a monetary mistake in my favor?
- Have I given or accepted bribes or kickbacks, especially to increase my influence in government or business matters?
- Have I paid my bills responsibly?
- Have I incurred unnecessary debt?
- Have I gambled money in such a way as to deprive myself or my family of the necessities of life?
- Have I neglected my duties while on the clock, failing to put in an honest day's work for the wages that I earn?
- Do I pay my employees a fair wage by which they are able to adequately support themselves and their families?
- Do I take advantage of the religious beliefs of my employees by telling them that their work is a ministry, so as to justify the low wages I pay them, when I could easily pay them more?
- Do I share my goods with the poor and needy, showing generosity to them?
Eighth Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16) Also, see Matthew 5:33, 19:18, 22:39-40; Romans 13:9; Ephesians 4:25
- Have I told any lies?
- Have I deliberately deceived any persons who had the right to know the truth of a matter?
- Have I injured the reputation or effectiveness of other persons by spreading falsehoods about them?
- Have I given a false testimony in court or in a legal procedure, thereby committing perjury?
- Do I deal with other persons in a sincere and honest manner?
- Did I fail to keep secret what I should have kept confidential?
- Have I gossiped about friends or enemies, revealing personal private information that is detrimental in nature? Have I done so without even knowing with certainty the truth of the matter?
- Do I criticize others or hold negative and uncharitable thoughts about them?
- Has my reluctance to speak in defense of truth or the faith because of my own fear or laziness led others to sin, or made them susceptible to it? Has my own taste for immoral actions or events encouraged others to follow suit and deny God's will?
Ninth Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. (Exodus 20:17) Also, see Matthew 5:27-28, 19:18, 22:39-40; Romans 13:9; Ephesians 5:3-4
- Since this commandment treats the issues of one's interior desires rather than overtly sinful deeds, one must examine mental attitudes and choices one makes about thoughts one dwells on.
- Did I respect all members of the opposite sex, or have I thought of other people as objects?
- Have there been times in which I chose to dwell on lust, even if I have not acted on it?
- Have I reflected on past sexual sins for the purpose of indulging in the reminiscence of the gratification those recollections offer?
- Have I instigated or actively engaged in impure thoughts by reading books, seeing movies, or listening to conversations which are sexually stimulating?
- Do I try to steer my imagination from lustful thoughts that treat other persons as objects for my use rather than as objects of pure love? Do I pray when I am tempted by impure thoughts? Do I direct my thoughts to other things so as to resist the temptation to lust?
Tenth Commandment: You shall not covet your neighbor's goods. (Exodus 20:17) Also, see Matthew 6:21, 19:18; Mark 7:22
- This commandment also concerns internal attitudes rather than overt actions, though here it concerns the neighbor's property.
- Have I envied other people's families or possessions?
- Have I made it a primary goal in life to acquire as many material possessions as possible?
- Have I felt compelled to "keep up with the Jones"?
- Do I always want more than I have?
- Am I greedy or selfish in regard to my possessions?
- Do I place my trust in God's providence, entrusting my material and spiritual needs to His care?
- Do we thank God for all He has given us and are we satisfied with these gifts?