Examination of Conscience

"Conscience may.. . be defined as the practical judgment of reason upon an individual act as good and to be performed, or as evil and to be avoided." This definition insists upon the intellectual dimension of conscience. Conscience emerges as the judgment of reason upon human action to be performed or shunned." Retrieving Conscience.

I. Examination of Conscience based upon the ten Commandments, Church Precepts, and the Seven Capital Sins.


The First Commandment.


"I am the Lord Your God. etc." Exodus xx.
HAVE you been guilty of...disbelief, or willful doubting of any article of Faith?

How often ? and for how long a time ? Or have you rashly exposed yourself to the danger of infidelity by reading bad books, or keeping wicked company ? How often ? [We sometimes discover that books and movies portray a point of view contrary to the faith while we are reading and viewing them. We need to think and critically evaluate what we see and read. We then need to consciously reject what we see that is unfaithful to our God.]

[If you have doubts about God's existence, realize these are temptations to be resisted. It may help to look at the proofs for God's existence in St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica or Pascal's Wager. See also the material in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.]

Have you by word or deed, denied your Religion or gone to places of false worship, so as to join in any way in the worship, or to give scandal? How often ? [Note that the Catholic Church now teaches that we can participate in the worship of our Protestant friends, and other religious traditions, including, for example, Native Americans. While we are respectful of other religions we should be careful to avoid actually worshiping false gods.]

Have you been ignorant of the articles of your Creed, of the Commandments, or of any of those things which Christians... are bound to know? For how long a time?

Have you despaired of salvation, or of the forgiveness of your sins ? Or have you rashly presumed upon finding mercy going on in your sins, without any thoughts of amendment or depending up on a deathbed repentance? How long have you been in this way?

Have you, after falling into mortal sin, neglected for a long time to turn to God by repentance? and for how long a time ?

Have you committed anything that you judged or doubted to be a mortal sin, though perhaps it was not so? How often? Or have you exposed yourself to the evident danger of mortal sin? How often? and of what sin? ["Exposed yourself to the evident danger" also can be stated "failed to avoid the near occasion of sin".]

Have you been negligent in the worship of God? seldom or never adoring and praising Him, or giving Him thanks; praying but little, or with little attention ; and neglecting to make acts of Faith, Hope, or Love of God ? How long has this negligence continued ?

Have you made a sacrilegious Confession or Communion, by concealing some mortal sin in Confession, or what you doubted might be mortal, or for want of a hearty sorrow for your sins, and a firm purpose of amendment or by being grossly negligent in the examination of your conscience? How often ?

Have you received any other sacrament, for example, Confirmation or Matrimony, in mortal sin?

Have you neglected to perform the penance enjoined in Confession ? or said it with willful distractions ? flow often?

Have you received the Blessed Sacrament after having broken your fast? [The current Eucharistic fast is one hour before communion.]

Have you been guilty of idolatry, or of giving divine honors to anything created, or used any witchcraft, or charms, or spells, [etc.]? How often? and with what scandal or ill example to others?

Have you consulted fortunetellers, or made use of any superstitious practices, to find out things to come, recover things lost, etc. ? How often? [This not the same as asking St. Anthony or St. Jude for help.] See Divination and Magic in the Catholic Catechism.

Have you given credit to dreams, taken notice of omens, or made any other superstitious observations ? How often? [This is again referring to the Occult. There is nothing wrong with dream analysis used in psychotherapy, for example.]

Have you blasphemed God or His Saints ? How often?

Have you abused the Holy Scriptures, or scoffed at Holy things ? How often ?

On the issue of graven images, the church says:

CCC 2132. "The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the FIRST COMMANDMENT which proscribes idols. Indeed, 'the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype,' and 'whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.'[St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto 18, 45: PG 32, 149C; Council of Nicaea II: DS 601; cf. Council of Trent: DS 1821-1825; Vatican Council II: SC 126; LG 67.] The honor paid to sacred images is a 'respectful veneration,' not the adoration due to God alone.

Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is.[St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 81, 3 ad 3.]" (Emphasis added.) Catechism of the Catholic Church. See also Catholic Teaching on Religious Art., and the Code of Canon Law.

 [These links take you to the catechetical treatment of this commandment, Baltimore (1891), Council of Trent (1566).]


The Second Commandment.


You shall not take the Name of the Lord Your God in vain.


Have you taken God's Name in vain, or used it with out respect in common discourse [in your everyday language]? Have you taken a false oath, or sworn to what you did not certainly know whether it was true or false? Have you taken an oath to do anything that was wicked or unlawful? or broken your lawful oaths? How often?

Have you had a custom of swearing rashly and inconsiderately by the Name of God, by your soul, or by the way of imprecation upon yourself? How long have you had this custom? How many times a day have you sworn in this manner ? Have you sworn by the Blood or Wounds of God, or any other blasphemous oath? How often? ["Imprecation n. The act of... invoking evil upon any one; a prayer that a curse or calamity may fall on any one; a curse." Malediction.]

Have you cursed yourself or others, or anything else? [Such as saying "I'll be damned" or "Damn you". At the very least, we are wrong to utter obscenities toward someone because the Lord said we are to love one another, not curse them. It would be especially evil if we appeal to some supernatural power to inflict evil on someone or some group.]

Was it from your heart? How often ? Have you been accessory to others swearing, cursing, or blaspheming ? How often?

Have you made a rash vow, without sufficient knowledge or deliberation? Have you broken any vow or solemn promise made to God? How often ? [See Promises and Vows in the Catechism.] [Vow in Canon Law.]

"Curse n 1: profane or obscene expression usually of surprise or anger [syn: curse word, expletive, oath, swearing, swearword, cuss] 2: an appeal to some supernatural power to inflict evil on someone or some group [syn: execration, condemnation] 3: an evil spell; "a witch put a curse on his whole family" [syn: hex, jinx] 4: something causes misery or death; "the bane of my life" [syn: bane, scourge, nemesis] 5: a severe affliction [syn: torment] v 1: utter obscenities [syn: cuss, blaspheme, swear, imprecate] 2: heap obscenities upon 3: wish harm upon; put a curse on; "The bad witch cursed the child" [syn: beshrew, damn, be-damn, anathematize, imprecate, maledict] [ant: bless] 4: exclude from a church or a religious communities [syn: excommunicate] [ant: communicate] "

Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University

2146. "The SECOND COMMANDMENT forbids the abuse of God's name, i.e., every improper use of the names of God, Jesus Christ, but also of the Virgin Mary and all the saints. "

2148. "Blasphemy is directly opposed to the SECOND COMMANDMENT. It consists in uttering against God - inwardly or outwardly - words of hatred, reproach, or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one's speech; in misusing God's name. St. James condemns those 'who blaspheme that honorable name (of Jesus) by which you are called.'[Jam 2:7 .] The prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ's Church, the saints, and sacred things. It is also blasphemous to make use of God's name to cover up criminal practices, to reduce peoples to servitude, to torture persons or put them to death. The misuse of God's name to commit a crime can provoke others to repudiate religion.

Blasphemy is contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. It is in itself a grave sin.[Cf. CIC, can. 1369.]" Catechism of the Catholic Church.

[Baltimore, Trent]

The Third Commandment.


Remember that you keep holy the Sabbath day.

HAVE you neglected to keep Sunday holy? Have you, when prevented from hearing Mass on Sundays and Holy days, supplied the omission by prayers at home, and taken care that those under your charge did the same?

Have you done any servile work without necessity upon those days? or been accessory to others so doing ? How often? Have you spent those days in idleness or in sin? or been accessory to others spending them so? How often ? [Idleness doesn't mean leisure time. We all need some leisure and recreation. After worship, Sunday should be family time, and leisure, which will often exclude idleness. Idleness would be more like aimlessness, or loafing.] See, A day of grace and rest from work.

CCC 2181. "The SUNDAY Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of OBLIGATION [including Sunday], unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.[Cf. CIC, can. 1245.] Those who deliberately fail in this OBLIGATION commit a grave sin."

1166. "'By a tradition handed down from the apostles which took its origin from the very DAY of Christ's Resurrection, the Church celebrates the Paschal mystery every seventh DAY, which DAY is appropriately called the Lord's DAY or Sunday.' The DAY of Christ's Resurrection is both the first DAY of the week, the memorial of the first DAY of creation, and the 'eighth DAY,' on which Christ after his 'rest' on the great SABBATH inaugurates the 'DAY that the Lord has made,' the 'DAY that knows no evening.'[Byzantine liturgy.] The Lord's Supper is its center, for there the whole community of the faithful encounters the risen Lord who invites them to his banquet:[Cf. Jn 21:12 ; Lk 24:30 .]

The Lord's DAY, the DAY of Resurrection, the DAY of Christians, is our DAY. It is called the Lord's DAY because on it the Lord rose victorious to the Father. If pagans call it the 'DAY of the sun,' we willingly agree, for today the light of the world is raised, today is revealed the sun of justice with healing in his rays.[St. Jerome, Pasch.: CCL 78, 550.]"

2165. "Sunday is expressly distinguished from the SABBATH which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the SABBATH. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish SABBATH and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:[Cf. 1 Cor 10:11 .] (Emphasis added.) ["Ceremonial observance" means the mass.]

Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the SABBATH, but the Lord's DAY, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.[St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Magn. 9, 1: SCh 10, 88.]"

2168. "The third commandment of the Decalogue recalls the holiness of the SABBATH: 'The seventh DAY is a SABBATH of solemn rest, holy to the LORD.'[Ex 31:15 .]"

2169. "In speaking of the SABBATH Scripture recalls creation: 'For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh DAY; therefore the Lord blessed the SABBATH DAY and hallowed it.'[Ex 20:11 .]"

2172. "God's action is the model for human action. If God 'rested and was refreshed' on the seventh DAY, man too ought to 'rest' and should let others, especially the poor, 'be refreshed.'[Ex 31:17 ; cf. Ex 23:12 .] The SABBATH brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a DAY of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money.[Cf. Neh 13:15-22 ; 2 Chr 36:21 .]" (Emphasis added.) Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Baltimore, Trent]



The Fourth Commandment.


Honor your father and your mother.

Have you been wanting in your duty to your Parents, by not loving them, or not showing them due respect ; or by disobeying them? and was it in any matter of moment [immediate importance]? Or have you been disobedient or disrespectful to any other lawful Superiors? HOW often ?

Have you desired [your] Parents' death, or cursed them ? Or given them injurious language? Or lifted up your hand against them? Or threatened them ? Or provoked them to swear, or otherwise to offend God ? Or caused them any considerable trouble or uneasiness? How often?

Have you stolen from your Parents, or otherwise wronged them? Or squandered away their substance? How much, and how often?

Have you neglected to [assist] your Parents in their necessities, either corporal or spiritual?

If a Parent: Have you been negligent in procuring that your children should be speedily baptized? Or that they should be timely instructed in their prayers and the Christian doctrine? Or have you been wanting in giving them early impressions of the fear and love of God? Or in taking care of their discharging their duty with regard to the Sacraments ?

Have you neglected to correct them; or been excessive in your correction?

Have you neglected to remove from them the occasions of sin, such as wicked companions, bad books, romances, etc. ; or suffered them to lie in the same bed with one another, with danger to their chastity?

Have you flattered them in their passions, or indulged them in their evil inclinations ?

Have you given them bad example ? How often, and in what kind?

  If you are a servant [employee]: Have you disobeyed your master or mistress, [that is your employer]? Have you been wanting in diligence or industry? Have you injured them or destroyed their property through carelessness or neglect? or suffered others to injure them ?

Have you stolen from them, or given anything away without their knowledge?

Have you betrayed their confidence by revealing their secrets, by talebearing, by lies, etc. ?

Have you obeyed or flattered them in anything sinful ? [The duty to be obedient does not include obedience to do wrong. We are never to do a wrong, a sin, even if it would produce a good, such as obedience.]

If a Master or Mistress [also employer]: Have you neglected to watch over the conduct of your servants, [employees]?

Have you refused, without necessity, to allow them time to hear Mass on Sundays and Holydays or to frequent the Sacraments ?

Have you overburdened them with work, or treated their injuriously ?

[Baltimore, Trent]


The Fifth Commandment.

You shall not kill.


HAVE you been guilty of anger or violent passion ? And if so, what scandal was given?

Have you desired any one's death, through hatred. or malice ? or for your temporal interest ? How often ?

Have you revenged yourself on any one by word or action, or desired revenge, or taken pleasure in the thoughts of it ? How often ?

Have you provoked, challenged, or struck others, or been guilty of quarreling or fighting with them ? How often, and what mischief have you done them ?

Have you borne malice to others, or refused to be reconciled to them? For how long a time? and what sort of evil had you in your heart against them ?

Have you procured, or thought to procure, a miscarriage [an abortion] ? or given any counsel, aid, or assistance thereunto? How often ?

Have you done anything to shorten your own or any other's life, or to hasten death? or rashly exposed yourself or others to danger? How often?

Have you desired your own death, through passion or impatience? or entertained any thoughts of making away with yourself [suicide]? or attempted or designed any such thing ? How often ?

["2325 Suicide is seriously contrary to justice, hope, and charity. It is forbidden by the fifth commandment. "

"...However, grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives". See Suicide in the Catholic Catichism.]

Have you neglected to give alms according to your condition and ability ? Or to reclaim sinners when it lay in your power ? How often ?

Have you been guilty of any spiritual murder, by drawing others into mortal sin ? Or have you been accessory to the sin of others, by counsel, or command, or provocation, or any other way ? How often? And what sins? See, CCC 1868.

Have you given scandal or occasion of sin to others, by lewd or irreligious discourse; by drunkenness or swearing, by immodesty of dress or behavior, etc. ?

N.B. - The circumstance of scandal is generally found in all sins that are known to others, by reason of the force of ill-example, which encourages others to sin.

[Baltimore, Trent]


The Sixth Commandment.

You shall not commit adultery.


HAVE you been guilty of any acts of impurity? (Under this head, all sins against purity must be carefully examined, as well as whatsoever leads to their indulgence or commission.) Have you been guilty of filthy talking? of reading immodest books? of indecency of dress? of looking at unchaste objects? of taking any dangerous or improper liberties ? [See Adultery and Chastity, and Offenses against chastity.]

See, 1Cor. 6:9 NAB, NIV, Douay-Rhiems. 1Cor 6:9-10 RSV. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. "

2351 "Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes. " Catechism of the Catholic Church. [The "unitive purpose" would be the love and commitment of the couple.]

2352 "The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose."

"492. What are the principal sins against chastity?

2351-2359, 2396 Grave sins against chastity differ according to their object: adultery, masturbation, fornication, pornography, prostitution, rape, and homosexual acts. These sins are expressions of the vice of lust. These kinds of acts committed against the physical and moral integrity of minors become even more grave. " Compendium of the Catechism.

[Baltimore, Trent]


The Seventh Commandment.

You shall not steal.


HAVE you been guilty of stealing, or cheating, or in any way wronging your neighbor in buying or selling, or in any other bargains or contracts? Or, have you been accessory to another's committing any such injustice? How often ? and to what value?

Have you unjustly retained what belonged to another ? How long? and to what injury?

Have you caused any damage to your neighbor in his house, cattle, or other goods? How often? [CCC2409 "Willfully damaging private or public property is contrary to the moral law and requires reparation."]

Have you contracted debts without design of paying them; or without any prospect of being able to pay them? Or have you delayed or refused to pay your just debts when you were able? Or have you, by prodigal expenses rendered yourself unable; and so wronged your creditors or your own family. How often? [Today this may be very common and never considered by people who live with great debt for house, car, and credit card.[ Cf. CCC 2410-11.]

Have you been guilty of negligence, in the securing or administering of trusts confided to your care, whether for ecclesiastical, charitable, or other purposes? Has any actual loss resulted from this negligence? To what extent? Have you been negligent in the administration of property otherwise intrusted to you, as guardian or administrator ? If so, have others thereby suffered? To what extent?

Have you been guilty of usury in the loan of money? How often?

["u·su·ry n., pl. u·su·ries. 1. The practice of lending money and charging the borrower interest, especially at an exorbitant or illegally high rate. 2. An excessive or illegally high rate of interest charged on borrowed money. 3. Archaic. Interest charged or paid on a loan." From dictionary.com.]

Have you put off false money [counterfeit money, or false securities]? How much? How often ?

Have you professed any art, or undertaken any business, without sufficient skill or knowledge ? And what injury has your neighbor suffered from it ?

Have you bought or received stolen goods, or taken of those who could not give? How often?

Have you neglected your work or business to which you were hired, or by contract obliged? How often? and to what injury? Or have you broken your promises in matters of consequence?

N.B. - In all sins of injustice, whereby you have done any wrong to your neighbor, either in his person or in his goods. or in his character, honor, or good name, you are strictly obliged to make full satisfaction and restitution, if it he in your power; otherwise the sin will not be forgiven.

Have you, then, neglected or delayed, without just cause, to make satisfaction and restitution, when it was in your power? How long?

["2453 The seventh commandment forbids theft. Theft is the usurpation of another's goods against the reasonable will of the owner.

2454 Every manner of taking and using another's property unjustly is contrary to the seventh commandment. The injustice committed requires reparation. Commutative justice requires the restitution of stolen goods." Catechism of the Catholic Church]

[Baltimore, Trent]

The Eighth Commandment.


You shall not bear false witness
against your neighbor.


HAVE you been guilty of telling lies ? And whether in any matter of consequence, or to the injury of any one? How often?

Have you been guilty of hypocrisy or dissimulation ? How often ?

Have you entertained a bad opinion of your neighbor without grounds, or judged rashly of his actions or intentions ? How often?

Have you been guilty of backbiting, or uncharitable conversation, by speaking of the known faults of your absent neighbor? How often ? [See generally, Ps. 41:6-8 NIV, Jer. 20:10-11.]

"Backbiting" -- that is, talking evil of persons behind their backs. You would not like your neighbor to backbite you, and you have no right to do to him what you would not wish him to do to you. Besides, everyone hates and fears a backbiter; because as he brings to you a bad story about another, he will in the same manner bring to someone else a bad story about you. It is certainly an honor to be able to say of a person: "He never has a bad word of anyone"; while on the other hand, he must be a despicable creature who never speaks of others except to censure or revile them. Never listen to a backbiter, detractor, or slanderer--it is sinful." Baltimore Catechism.

Have you been guilty of the sin of detraction, which consists in taking away or lessening your neighbor's reputation by publishing his secret faults or defects? How often have you done so? For what motive? and before how many? [Detraction is telling the truth about someone but at an unnecessary time or with people who have no right to know the information, resulting in harm to someone's reputation. It is not detraction to truthfully answer a lawful question, for example, if asked in court. If asked a question by someone who does not have a right to know, it would be best to simply not answer. In the case of the Sacrament of Penance, if a court requires an answer, the priest may not answer. ]

"If we wish to keep peace with our neighbor, we should never remind
anyone of his natural defects." St. Philip Neri. From Benjamin Dunlap <gabedun@swbell.net>

Have you been guilty of calumny, which consists in saying of your neighbor what is false or uncertain? How often ? and before how many? See, CCC 2479. Sir. 21:28.

N.B. - In either case you are obliged' to restore his character as far as you are able.

Have you willingly given ear to detraction or calumny? Have you taken pleasure in it? Or in any way encouraged it? Or not hindered it when you might? How often ?

Have you injured your neighbor's honor by reproaches and affronts, or robbed him of his peace of mind by scoffs and derision ? How often?

Have you, by carrying stories backwards and forwards, or in any other way, caused misunderstanding or quarrels betwixt others ? How often ? and to what prejudice? (See Gossip.)

N.B. Here also judges, lawyers, solicitors, etc., sought to examine themselves, of what Injustice they may have been guilty in managing causes, etc. as well as accusers, witnesses, etc.

[calumny: False accusation of a crime or offense, maliciously made or reported, to the injury of another; malicious misrepresentation; slander; detraction. "Infamous calumnies.'' --Motley. From dictionary.com.]


CCC 2464. "The EIGHTH COMMANDMENT forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. This moral prescription flows from the vocation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is the truth and wills the truth. Offenses against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness: they are fundamental infidelities to God and, in this sense, they undermine the foundations of the covenant. " Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Sir. 5:15-16 NAB. "A man's tongue can be his downfall. Be not called a detractor; use not your tongue for calumny..."

[Baltimore, Trent]


The Ninth Commandment.


You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.


HAVE you taken pleasure in any unchaste thoughts or imaginations ? Have you entertained any impure desires or feelings?

CCC 418 As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin (this inclination is called "concupiscence").

 CCC 2514. "St. John distinguishes three kinds of covetousness or concupiscence: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life.[Cf. 1Jn 2:16 .] In the Catholic catechetical tradition, the NINTH COMMANDMENT forbids carnal concupiscence; the tenth forbids coveting another's goods."

CCC 2515 Etymologically, "concupiscence" can refer to any intense form of human desire....

CCC 2529. "The NINTH COMMANDMENT warns against lust or carnal concupiscence."

 Matt. 5:28 "But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart." NAB.

[Baltimore, Trent 9&10]
["con·cu·pis·cence (kn-kyp-sns) n. A strong desire, especially sexual desire; lust.
cov·et (kvt)
• To feel blameworthy desire for (that which is another's). See Synonyms at envy.
• To wish for longingly. See Synonyms at desire.
To feel immoderate desire for that which is another's. " ] From dictionary.com


The Tenth Commandment.


You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.

HAVE you desired your neighbor's goods...? Or been in a disposition of stealing, or otherwise wronging him if it lay in your power? How often?

Have you desired your neighbor's loss or misfortune, or any public calamity, that you might be the gainer by it? How often?

 CCC 2535. "The sensitive appetite leads us to desire pleasant things we do not have, e.g., the desire to eat when we are hungry or to warm ourselves when we are cold. These desires are good in themselves; but often they exceed the limits of reason and drive us to COVET unjustly what is not ours and belongs to another or is owed to him. "

CCC 2536. "The tenth commandment forbids greed and the desire to amass earthly goods without limit. It forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power. It also forbids the desire to commit injustice by harming our neighbor in his temporal goods:

When the Law says, 'You shall not COVET,' these words mean that we should banish our desires for whatever does not belong to us. Our thirst for another's goods is immense, infinite, never quenched. Thus it is written: 'He who loves money never has money enough.'[Roman Catechism, III, 37; cf. Sir 5:8 .]" Catechism of the Catholic Church.


[Baltimore Catechism.]


 The Commandments of the Church.

HAVE you neglected to keep holy the days of obligation ? Have you worked on those days without necessity, and without leave from your Pastor ? Have you neglected to hear Mass on Sundays and Holydays of obligation ? or have you heard it with wilful distractions ? or not taken care that your children and servants [i.e. household employees, or any employee] should hear it? How often ?

Have you broken the days of abstinence commanded by the Church? or eaten more than one [full] meal on fasting days? or been accessory to others so doing? How often?

Have you neglected to confess your sins once a year ? or to receive the Blessed Sacrament at Easter?

Have you neglected to contribute to the support of your Pastor?

Have you solemnised marriage at the forbidden times? Have you married within the forbidden degrees of kindred? or with any other known impediment? [That is, are you married outside the church?]

"CCC 2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the indispensable minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:

2042 The first precept ("You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.") requires the faithful to participate in the Eucharistic celebration when the Christian community gathers together on the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord. Canon 1246. See, Attendance at Sunday Mass.

The second precept ("You shall confess your sins at least once a year.") ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness. Canon 989.

The third precept ("You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.") guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy. Canon 920.

2043 The fourth precept ("You shall keep holy the holy days of obligation.") completes the Sunday observance by participation in the principal liturgical feasts which honor the mysteries of the Lord, the Virgin Mary, and the saints. Canon 1246.

The fifth precept ("You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.") ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts; they help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart. Canon 1249ff. [Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are universal days of fast and abstinence. In the U.S. the Friday's of Lent are days of abstinence from meat.]

The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his abilities.[ Canon 222] " Catechism of the Catholic Church. [The "canon" references are to the Code of Canon Law.]

The Capital Sins

CCC 1866. "Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the CAPITAL SINS which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called 'CAPITAL' because they engender other SINS, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia*." Catechism of the Catholic Church
[*"acedia n : apathy and inactivity in the practice of virtue (personified as one of the deadly sins) [syn: sloth, laziness"] [From www.dictionary.com] [See also the catechism sec. 2733, and 2755.]

1. Pride: Have you been guilty of pride, or complacency in yourself, or contempt of others ? How often ?

Have you been guilty of vainglory*, by doing your actions to procure esteem ? How often?

*[vainglory n : outspoken conceit [syn: boastfulness]

Have you taken delight in the esteem and applause of others ? or have you been uneasy and discontented when you did not receive such esteem or applause ? How often ?

See Pride in Grave and Deadly sin.

2. Covetousness: Have you ben guilty of covetousness, in desiring or loving too much the things of this world? Have you sought after them too eagerly ? or been too much distressed at the loss of them? How often ? See above for material on the 9th and 10th commandments. See Avarice and "CCC 2552 The tenth commandment forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power." See Covetuousness in Grave and Deadly Sin.

3. For the Sins of Lust, See the Sixth Commandment [above.]

Matt. 5:28 "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. " NRSV. NAB.

2Pet. 2:9-10: "[T]he Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment especially those who indulge their flesh in depraved lust, and who despise authority." NRSV. NAB.

A fuller treatment of Lust is at Grave and Deadly Sin.

[lust n 1: a strong sexual desire [syn: lecherousness, lustfulness] 2: self-indulgent sexual desire (personified as one of the deadly sins). From dictionary.com]

4. For the Sins of Anger, See the Fifth Commandment [above.] For a full treatment of this deadly sin see Grave and Deadly sin.

5. Gluttony: Have YOU been guilty of gluttony, by eating or drinking to excess, so as to endanger or injure your health or reason? How often; and with what scandal? Have you indulged in an inordinate gratification of your appetite? How often?

Have you made others drunk? or sought to make them so ? or boasted of having made them so? How often?

2289 "If morality requires respect for the life of the body, it does not make it an absolute value. It rejects a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for it's sake..." Catechism of the Catholic Church.

2290. "The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others' safety on the road, at sea, or in the air. " Catechism of the Catholic Church.

[Note: The church does not specifically define the word abuse for particular situations, so what is abusive for you is to some extent a matter of individual conscience. The presence of food disorders should mitigate guilt if they are present. It would be abusive to so under eat as to endanger health for mere cosmetic reasons.] [In English "abuse" is defined: "abuse \A*buse"\, v. t... 1. To put to a wrong use; to misapply; to misuse; to put to a bad use; to use for a wrong purpose or end; to pervert; as, to abuse inherited gold; to make an excessive use of; as, to abuse one's authority..." From Dictionary.com.]

2291 "The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law." Catechism of the Catholic Church.

See Respect for Health in the current Catechism, and Gluttony in Grave and Deadly Sin.


6. Envy: Have you envied or repined* at your neighbor's good, either spiritual or temporal? or rejoiced at his harm? How often ?

Have you been guilty of jealousy, in consequence of any attention or preference shown to others? Have you rejoiced to see them disappointed Or mortified? See envy in Grave and Deadly Sin.

*[Repine v. intr. re·pined, re·pin·ing, re·pines.
• To be discontented or low in spirits; complain or fret.
• To yearn after something]

7. Sloth: Have you been guilty of sloth, or laziness of mind or body, which has prevented you from discharging your duty? How often?

Have you neglected your spiritual duties? or discharged them with tepidity or indolence? Have you studied too much your own ease, leading an unmortified and unchristian life?

Have you squandered away much of your time in idleness or useless occupation?

Have you entertained with pleasure the thoughts of saying or doing anything which it would be a sin to say or do? How often?

Have you had the desire or design of committing any sin? What sin? How often. Have you gloried in any sin whatsoever? How often? and before what company?

N.B: Also, [employers and employees], husbands and wives, lawyers and physicians, ecclesiastics and magistrates, etc., ought to examine... how far they may have neglected the duties of their respective callings.

[The primary focus of this deadly sin is spiritual. A person's daily life may be very busy with worldly pursuits so that he or she is to "tired" to do the spiritual things needed, such as prayer and worship. Others may find spiritual work "tedious" or boreing, but this too is no excuse. As the Catholic Encyclopaedia says of sloth: "[A] man is then formally distressed at the prospect of what he must do for God to bring about or keep intact his friendship with God."

2094. "acedia or spiritual SLOTH goes so far as to refuse the joy that comes from God and to be repelled by divine goodness." Catechism of the Catholic Church § 2094.]

 See Sloth in Grave and Deadly Sin.


CCC 1868 "Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;

- by protecting evil-doers." Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Conclude with an act of contrition.

See "Contrition" in the Catholic Catechism. and in the Roman Catechism from the council of Trent.


on this site:

For a shorter examination of conscience see Lansance's Devotions Before Confession

For an explanation of why we examine our conscience see the text at the end of Prayer Before Confession.

See also, Gospel Morality, What the New Testament Says and

The Moral Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.

Grave and Deadly Sin.

Catholic Teaching on Hell & Scripture on Hell


Other sites:

Retrieving Conscience -- Medieval Theories of Conscience

Examination of Conscience - Catholic Encyclopedia

EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE by very Rev. James Alberione, S.S.P, S.T.D

Catholic Doors Ministry.

See also: Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21:7-8, 22:15


If you act as though death is never going to come for you, take a look at death clock

The quotes of the Catechism of the Catholic Church are taken from the online version hosted by Christus Rex. For further research look at the detailed index at the Vatican.

These quotes are presented for religious and educational purposes only, under the "Fair Use" doctrine of U.S. copyright law. No other use is intended or permitted.

Other than editor's notes and definitions in brackets, and those quotes attributed in the text to someone else, the rest of the text is from the Key of Heaven, author unknown, which bears an imprimatur dated June 26, 1906. Some editing of the text has occurred to remove archaic pronouns, etc. This older text is used to comply as far as possible with copyright law.

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