QUAERITUR: Latin examination of conscience

From a reader:

I am looking for "examen conscientiae" in Latin, but I cannot find anything suitable for la layperson. The only one I found so far is in the book "Manuale sacerdotum" by  Joseph Schneider (availabe in Google Books), but it is tailored toward priests. Do you know of any detailed examination of conscience in Latin, suitable for laypeople?


Sincerely, I cannot see why an examination of conscience in Latin would be that useful unless your Latin is so good that there is nothing of the "intellectual exercise" in it.

What is the point of an examination of conscience?  Truly?  Why do such a strange thing?

Because when you get into the tribunal which is the confessional, you are your own prosecutor.   You expose all your mortal sins in number and kind.

There isn’t really time to screw around with gimmicks at that point. 

That said, maybe someone has a Latin examen. 

I know that there are a couple in the Latin edition of the Ordo Paenitentiae published by the Vatican.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Fr. Steve says:

    As a side, I’m also looking for the words of absolution in Latin. Fr. Z. would you happen to have the text?

  2. Fr. BJ says:

    Fr. Steve:

    You can find them printed in paragraph 1449 of the Catechism, available in Latin on the Holy See web site:

  3. Geoffrey says:

    I have a copy of the “Ordo Paenitentiae”. Feel free to email me via my website and I would be happy to scan and email the examination of conscience and the absolution to those who request it. :-)

  4. Roland de Chanson says:

    I once did an examination of conscience in Latin. I was however very well prepared.

    When I got into the box, I confessed two ablative absolutes, an occasion of indirect discourse, abusing a gerundive, four instances of hortatory subjunctives as well as improper insertion of a dangling participle before a copulative verb.

    For penance I had to recite all fifteen decades of the rosary while supine. [LOL!] Which I was not prone to do. So I am technically still in a state of grammatical sin, which if you die in it, you have to stand in the vernacular line at the Pearly Gates, which moves much more slowly.

  5. HEMAN says:

    To Roland:

    Too funny!!

  6. Nicholas says:

    Roland, don’t you mean ablatives absolute? ;-) [Ah yes… and it is “Gins and Tonic” right?]

  7. Tom in NY says:

    Peccata omnia in memoria confitenda sunt; jugum poenitentiae unam paginam “Lewis & Short” effingere.
    Omnibus his literis visuris salutationes.

  8. Mary says:

    A friend who studied in Rome told me that you can confess in Latin at St. Mary Major at certain hours and that she managed a valid one by the end of her semester. Yeah, I’m not sure what the point is either though. [Sometimes it is convenient to do so.]

  9. Maybe the act of contrition in Latin would be handy to memorize ?

    Deus meus, ex toto corde paenitet me omnium meorum peccatorum, eaque detestor, quia peccando, non solum poenas a Te iuste statutas promeritus sum, sed praesertim quia offendi Te, summum bonum, ac dignum qui super omnia diligaris. Ideo firmiter propono, adiuvante gratia Tua, de cetero me non peccaturum peccandique occasiones proximas fugiturum. Amen.

  10. Roland de Chanson says:


    oops! yes I do. Back to the reconciliation room for me! I just can’t help sinnin’. :-)


    Peccata mea in memoria non teneo. Ad hunc modum quodque peccatum semper novum est. Maius quidem ita oblectamentum est! :-)

    Salutationes et tibi!

  11. Paul Fournier says:

    For a traveller to foreign lands, I think it would be useful to have the ability to confess one’s sins in Latin. [But we are not talking about confessing in Latin. We are talking about an examination of conscience.] I’ll wager there are more priests competent in latin in a country like Vietnam than in English.

    It would also be a work of caritas to learn the act of contrition in latin and other languages in case you have to help someone die well.


  12. Nathaniel says:

    I understand what you meant, Fr. Z, but it seems strange to hear you call anything in Latin a gimmick.

  13. joshua says:

    Roland, if I did not believe you jest, I would advise you to seek a removal of your excommunication for breaking the seal anyway…I for one can read Latin

  14. fr. K says:

    I have a little booklet:

    prudens sexdecim linguarum Confessarius. I think reprints are available.

  15. tradition says:

    Fr. Z.,

    I am surprised. “Strange”? This is the same type of argument used against the Latin Mass. [Ridiculous. This a false comparision.] Besides, for those who travel other areas of the world sometimes the only recourse one has is to Latin. [We are not talking about CONFESSION in Latin! This is about examining your conscience. Right?]

    Even if there was something of the intellectual exercise in it so what? After all if one is told to go on a pilgrimage as a penitential act would you oppose it because one would also be exercising one’s legs. Or if I pray the scriptures and happen to memorize it at the same time, is my prayer defective?

    Furthermore, I would argue that an exam in Latin may actually be more beneficial than one in the vernacular. [Fine. Do it in Latin. I hope that works for you. ] The problem with the vernacular is that too often we think we understand some term in English simply because we hear it so often. One often sees individuals from other countries using english words more precisely than native speakers precisely because there was something of an intellectual exercise in it.

    It is late.

  16. tradition says:

    fr. K

    I do not believe that the confessor\’s manual has an examination in Latin. The intro is in Latin but the text has 16 european languages but no Latin. I could be mistaken.

  17. JC says:

    Two questions:
    1) is it absolutely necessary that the priest understand the sins? I mean, I realize that the priest should ideally offer some advice, but he only needs to absolve for the confession to be valid, right? I mean, the priest generally isn’t going to know if the penitent’s list of sins is complete, etc. . . . Only God knows that. For example, I used to confess regularly to a priest who was very hard of hearing (not because he was hard of hearing but because he was the holiest and most orthodox priest in our area at the time). He’d often say, “WHAT?? COULD YOU SAY THAT LOUDER?” I’d try to enunciate more, but wouldn’t shout my sins.

    That said,
    2) I *think* that maybe the person’s goal is to learn how to state the sins in Latin, so as to confess them properly. I don’t think the person is necessarily trying to do the examen qua examen in Latin, for the sake of an intellectual exercise, but rather to read the examen in Latin to know the proper terms to use.

  18. Father Totton says:

    I am glad I already finished my coffee before reading Roland’s first comment! Hilarious! At first, I was a bit puzzled as to why one would be interested in an examen in Latin, but I see clearly the point JC is making.

    FWIW I have posted, in the confessor’s side of both confessionals, the absolution formula in both ordinary (Latin & English) and extraordinary (Latin) forms. The Latin (of either form) is rarely requested, but I am happy to oblige when it is.

  19. James says:

    Fr. Z.,

    You seem to be getting a little snippy with people lately. [“Fine, do it in latin. I hope that works for you.”] Is everything ok?

    I agree with you on this matter – there is no point in doing an examen in Latin unless you have completely interiorized it to the point you can be conversant in it. In my 37 years, I have only known three people who could do that (one is Arch. Burke!). If you spend the entire time worrying about what you are thinking/saying in your examen, then you have defeated the purpose.

    On the other hand, the sacramental confession is excellent in latin, and much more so in the earlier Roman Rite.

  20. Laura says:

    JC’s post raises an interesting question. Let’s say you are confessing to a hard of hearing priest in a confessional in a church where theoretically people could hear you if you spoke loudly enough.

    If the priest required you to speak loudly enough that others could hear your sins, are they then bound by the Seal not to share what they’ve heard? I know that decorum and charity would prevent sharing what they’ve overheard, but are they bound by the nature of the speech to not share it?


  21. Roland de Chanson says:

    Thanks to all for the compliments on for my little joke about grammatical sins. I wish all my sins were merely grammatical.

    Joshua: Roland, if I did not believe you jest, I would advise you to seek a removal of your excommunication for breaking the seal anyway…I for one can read Latin.

    What? That was a joke Joshua. Besides, a layman cannot break the seal of confession even if he overhears an actual one. This one was clearly a joke, a takeoff on Mary’s remark about St. Mary Major. Reread it. Besides, I’m probably already excommunicated. An old jebby told me I was a Semi-Pelagian in my heart. I asked him what the lower half of me was.

  22. Dell says:

    This is what I often used before Vatican II when I was in a non-English speaking country. Most priests then had an acceptable competence in Latin. However I always examined my conscience in English. My scanning software was not taught Latin as it came after VII. Given the request Fr.Z will naturally expect that you should be able correct the errors introduced by the software.




    quae repetuntur eaedem sub iisdem numeric
    in omnibus linguis.

    1. — Ultima tea confessio fuit — a) ante plures heb¬doinadas” (menses? annos?) — quot? – b) ante unum annum:? — c) in ultimo Paschate?.
    2. — Omisisti tuns preces matutinas, vespertinas? Ordinarie? — Recitasti eas neglegenter?
    3. — 131asphemasti aut jurasti male? — Estne tibi con¬suetude?
    4. — Die dominica, aberasne a missa cum tea culpa? — Venisti notabiliter series? — Nonne neglexisti in ea attentionern et orationem?
    5. — Laborasti serviliter die dominica sine necessitafe?
    6. — Quaenarn (A conditio tua.9 — doelebs? — In ma¬trimonio? — In viduitate?
    7. — Habitasne — aped oarentes tuns? — an soius? —an in domicilio conjugali? — (an aped heron? — suntne eatholici?)
    8. — Renuisti oboedientiam parentibus tuffs? — Violasti reve-rentiam debitam erga eos? — erga superiores?
    9. — Babes aliquando males cogitationes? — Admisisti eas? — Fovisti eas lectionibus? — imaginibus? — curio¬sitate indecente?
    10. — Audiisti aliquando colloquia mala? — Libenter? Activam partem in ern habuisti?
    11. — Incepisti aut permisisti Judos nimis farniliares? Intentions mala? — Ceram testibus?
    12. — Venisti ad actus turpes? — Soles? — a) Cum akin? — rangendo eos? — b) Directs? — blanibus? —c) Et alio quoque mode? — Complete? — d) Cum uxorato vel conjugate? — e) Cum personis diversis? — f) Cum solutis? — Cum pueris?
    13. — Prima vice hoc dicis? — Et est !tibi consuetude sat antiqna? — a) Sentiebas tamen hoc esse dicendum in confessions? — h) Et accepisti communionein cum tali remorse? — c) Per plures annos? (menses? hebdo¬madas? dies?) — d) Quotiens per annum? (mensem? hebdomadem?)
    (4) USUS huilts folii et libri explicator in libro, P. 4, et initio eujus¬que linguae sub litteris A et B
    14. — Habesne facile occasionem illam peccandi? —a) Qui peccant tecum habitantne in eadem domo tecum? — b) Non sent ex tua familia? — c) Tune potes separari ab eis?
    15. — Si potes procurare separationem, debes. — Pro¬mittis? — Ut primum poteris? — a) Si non potes procurare separationem, cave ne unquam bini occurratis se¬paratim. — b) Vis et promittis curam illam?
    16. — Cepistine aut retinuisti aut deteriorem fecisti rem alterius? — Usque ad valorem aestimabilem? -¬Neglexistine bonum tibi ab alio commissum?
    17. — Nonne die immoratus es antequam solveres debita? — a) Solvistine salaria aequa? ? — b) Fraudastine proximum circa mercaturas aut circa pretia earum. — c) Esne dispositus ad restituendum vel reparandum, ut primum poteris?
    18. — Nonne mentitus es? — -,<,aesne consuetudinem exaggerandi?
    19. — Narrastine aut audiistl’ ibenter mala de proxi¬mo? — a) Mala falsa? — b) Et sic fuisti ei nocumento, tristitiae? — c) Coram pluribus?
    20. — Fovesne odium contra quoslibet? — a) contra tuos consanguineos aut affines? — b) Optasti malum proximo? — c) Laetatus es infortuniis ejus?
    21. — Manifestasti impatientiam? — iram? — a) Per¬cussisti proximum? — b) Vulnerasti sum? — c) Occidisti?
    22. — Manducasti carnem diebus abstinentiae absque necessitate? — Violastine legem jejunii sine motivo, suffi¬ciente ?
    23. — Bibisti supra, modem? — Usque ad ebrietatem perfectam? — Aliquid Peccasti per gulam?
    24. — Peccasti per pigritiam ? — Neglexistine opus pro quo accipis salarium ?
    25. — Peccasti per superbiam, cogitatione 1 verbo? opere? — Contra auctoritatem DeP — Contra Ecclesiam et fidem?
    26. — Fuistine dares aut contemptor erga tuos sub¬ditos? — Pecuniam et curam nimiam dedisti pro vestibus et ornatu?
    27. — Nonne protraxisti colloquia vel lectiones etiam postquam in eis notaveras periculum pro tua fide? — Dedistine nomen tuum aut protectionem societatibus dam¬natis ab Ecclesia, aut impiis? — periodicis malis?
    28. — Dedistine suffragium pro viris non christianis? — qui impugnant Ecclesiam?
    29. — Habesne liberos? — Quot? — a) Mittis eos ad scholam catholicam? — b) Habes obligationem gravissi¬mam ut catholice efformentur: promittisne facers ad hoc omnia quae possis?
    30. — Exercesne vigilantiam circa eorum relationes? — a) Et Judos? — b) Et socios? — e) Curastine de asps- rations eorum per somnurn?
    31. — Violastine legein Dei in matrimonio, ne plures obtineres liberos?
    32. — Tentastine uc yrocurares abortum? — Et obti¬nuisti effeettim?
    33. — Fovisti dispositiones tristitiae vanae? — a) mur¬murantis contra Providentiam? — b) desperationis? — c) Manifestasti eas cum periculo scandali?
    34. Nonne usus es superstitions ad cognoseenda
    futura? vel ad praevenienda, infortunia? — vel ad
    proximum dominandum?
    35. — Habesne alia, peccata? — anxietates.

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