"The Tears of the Penitents are Wine for the Angels" -- St. Bernard

Advent is a penitential time, preparing our hearts for Christ to be reborn in them.

We like to go to Confession monthly, on First Fridays to be a part of the devotion's graces and hopeful indulgences. Going monthly, we are aware of the graces and how it would be helpful to go even more often.

There was a time when I thought I didn't have to go if I hadn't a mortal sin on my soul. But my husband would say, "Do you want more graces, they are there waiting for you?! Why pass up the opportunity?!"

Recently I was sharing this with someone. She expressed not knowing what to confess and so I thought I would share all the info on Confession examinations and prompts that I had found online that help us.

But to start from the beginning, it should be said that.....

A Catholic is required to go to Confession once a year (during Lent) and also at any time of the year he has mortal sin on his soul (is "not in a state of grace"), especially if he desires to receive the Eucharist worthily. But weekly -- at least monthly -- Confessions are encouraged because we don't seek to serve Our merciful Lord by the bare minimum. We should want to offer Him more as He offers us ALL!

What Penance is: it is the Sacramental pardoning of the eternal effects of our sins for which we are truly contrite. It is effected by Christ, Who paid their eternal wages with His Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension, through His priests using proper form. Through the Sacrament, Christ gives us not only forgiveness, but grace to remain steadfast.

What Penance is not: psychotherapy. While the priest may give you some direction and advice in the Confessional, if you have general problems or spiritual issues you want to discuss, you should set an appointment to talk with him. This is especially true at a Confession before Mass where people are in line behind you and time is short.


The most important thing is not to “go to confession,” but “to make a good confession,” i.e.,
* to approach this sacrament sincerely sorry for our sins;
* to confess them in all humility and honesty;
* to be ready to make amends for them;
* to be determined to avoid committing sin in the future, and to live according to God’s will.

In order to do all this, an essential step is to make a thorough examination of conscience. This includes:
* becoming aware of the gravity and number of one’s sins, either in thoughts, words or deeds, whether they consist in something wrong that we have committed, or in something good that we should have done and which we failed to do (sins of omission);

* realizing that, by our sins, we have offended God, have renewed the cause of Jesus Christ’s suffering and death, and caused harm to our neighbor and ourselves.

Valuable helps in making a good examination of conscience are:

* prayer to the Holy Spirit for enlightenment and sincerity;

* reading of some pertinent Scripture passage which helps us rediscover the gravity of our sinfulness, the greatness of God’s love for us and his readiness to forgive us;

* going over sets of questions concerning our duties to God, our neighbor anD ourselves.


Come, Holy Spirit, into my soul and help me know my sins, feel sorry for them, and confess them humbly, that I may be able to enjoy the Father’s forgiveness. By your light illumine the darkness of my mind, by your fire warm my cold hear, by your grace fill me with your love and power. May I realize that wrong that I did and the good that I failed to do. Help me feel truly sorry for all my sins, strengthen my determination to avoid them in the future, and to live in your love, your peace and your joy. Amen.

Links to Examinations of Your Conscience for Printing Out (there are so many online, but these are some we use)

http://www.fisheaters.com/penance.html - scroll to bottom for examination, but read it all if you have time, some reprinted here


When my failings in the 10 Commandments (above) become obvious, I turn to this examination in the virtues of the Blessed Mother to encourage my spiritual growth. These are so hard....

The Virtues of Our Lady

• Did I wake lazily?
• Did I spend my time in useless chatter in place of prayer?
• Did I spend my time reading newspapers or watching TV instead of meditation?
• Did I go here and there without necessity?
Did I approach my day as a “sacrificial offering” in intimate union with the Immaculate?
• Is my mortification and penance generous?
• Have I guarded my senses, mortified my will and my natural instincts in order to be transfigured into the Immaculate?
• Have I mortified my pride and ambition and desire to comfort myself in order that I might practice humility, poverty, patience and dedication to others?
• Have I practiced the penance of fasting and abstinence, of silence and obscurity, of prayer
• Have I renounced vanities after the example of the Immaculate?
• Have I turned conversations into occasions for efficient and enlightened Marian catechesis?

Examination of Conscience based on 7 Deadly Sins
Examination of Conscience based on Theological Virtues

For Children -

http://www.ncregister.com/info/confession_guide_for_children/ - my youngest son prints this out each time and makes check marks


Make the sign of the cross and say: Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.

Allow the priest to give you his blessing and to add whatever exhortation he may be inspired to offer. Listen prayerfully and with an open heart, then say: My last good confession was…ago. Since then, I have committed the following sins:...

Confess your sins clearly and sincerely, starting with the most difficult or embarrassing ones and indicating, in the case of mortal sins, how many times you've committed them. If you're unsure of exact numbers -- but only if you are unsure -- tell him "about how many" times you've committed the sin. Ex., "I've lied to my mother twice, I stole a candy bar from work once, I've had lustful thoughts too many times to count, etc." Don't go into a lot of detail, don't name other people who may have sinned with you, but do tell him what he needs to know in order to understand relevant circumstances of the particular sins -- that is, circumstances that might mitigate your culpability or make you more culpable. For example, telling him about stealing a loaf of bread because you were starving will elicit a different penance and spiritual direction than if you tell him you stole a stack of money because you wanted to buy some gossip magazines. If you are unsure as to whether a particular act was a sin, tell him.

Should you feel nervous, or uncertain about some sins, ask the priest to help you. When you have finished confessing all the sins that you remember, say: For these sins all the sins of my past life, especially the sins against…(mention the most important virtues, like charity, honesty, purity, etc.) I ask absolution and penance from you, Father.

The confessor will give you some pertinent advice. He will also give you an appropriate penance to be performed after the sacrament of confession. At his invitation, recite an Act of Contrition.

You can say the Act of Contrition either in your own words, or by reciting the following or a similar one:

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you.
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 sin no more, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

After having recited the Act of Contrition, bow your head and receive the priest’s absolution with humility and gratitude. Follow his words attentively and join him in saying the closing “Amen!”


Kneel down in front of the altar or of an image of Our Lord, and thank him for the gift of this confession. Renew your resolution and ask His help to overcome future temptations. With St. Dominic Savio repeat the prayer/commitment synthesized in the motto: Death, rather than sin.

If the penance given by the confessor consists in some prayers to be recited, say them quietly and devoutly.

Then smile at Jesus with gratitude. Rise joyful and confident for the Lord has been merciful to you. Live for Him every minute of your life, and let everybody see how wonderful it is to serve the Lord.

More reading so worthwhile of your time would be, The Spiritual and Psychological Value of Frequent Confession!


Tiffany said...

Amen! And wonderful resources...thank you so much.

christina said...

Wonderful! Thanks so much posting this!

Jamie Jo said...

Beautiful post!
We go monthly, but I did notice that I might have missed a few....Did I wake lazily? Now that's a hard one....I'll be thinking and praying about that one all day!

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