A reader used an Examination of Conscience to identify a sin

A while back I linked to the site of Fr. Tim Finigan’s parish where he has made available different examinations of conscience.

Thank you for this invaluable advice.

I found a check-box style examination of conscience similar to the one you linked to recently, and by using it I was able to identify and confess a really awful sin, one so awful that I had suppressed the memory of it.

I am so thankful to have been able explicitly to confess it and receive absolution.

Fathers, give people direction about how to make a good confession. Then hear confessions.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I know that confession isn’t therapy (help those priests and those in a long line when a confessing person treats it as such!), but it seems that a serious examination of conscience and a good confession is very good for mental health

  2. RichR says:

    A clear delineation of grave and venial sins is as catechetical as it is therapeutic. Souls crave clear direction, especially when it comes to their eternal destiny.

  3. APX says:

    Fathers, give people direction about how to make a good confession
    Yes. Pleeeaze! This penitent’s “formal instruction” for the Sacrament of Reconciliation in 1992 was something along the lines of, “talk with the priest about what you’re struggling with and what you did wrong. He will help you work through it, and then give you a some prayers to say or something to do, like help mom out at home. After that he will give you absolution and forgive you of all your sins.” I didn’t even hear of the words “penance” “mortal sin” “venial sin” until grade 4 Religion class, and even then it was vague and confusing.

    My current confessions are based on whatever I could find online this past year. I assume that if Father isn’t correcting me, asking questions, or giving me negative feedback in the box, I’m confessing just fine.

  4. anilwang says:

    This is actually one thing I struggle with. Except for one or two persistent intermittent sins, I have a hard time coming up with sins for confession. I do a daily examination of conscious and more often than not I come up empty.

    I’ve looked at several examination of consciousness lists online, but they seem to focus on things that I’d never dream of doing, let alone be tempted by. And except for those persistent sins, once I see a problem with myself, I try to extinguish it at its core so I won’t have to deal with it again.

    Maybe because I had a strong Stoic/Platonic/Confucian upbringing long before I learned my Catholic faith, I’m not vulnerable the same way as most people. But I know I am sinful, since I’m not a St. Paul who saw himself as the chief of all sinners. So it must be blindness to a particular class of sins.

    A while back, I heard an Eastern Orthodox sermon on having contempt in your heart for beggars and I was condemned, since in my heart of hearts I believed that many of them (at least in Canada) are opportunists (since we have a generous social welfare system, and I have heard many boast that they make more on the street than they would if they worked). But whether this is true or not, my heart was in the wrong place in not having compassion for people who for whatever reason live below their blessing and not even having the compassion to talk to those people or pray for them.

    Does anyone know of an examination of conscious that focuses on sins that a Stoic/Platonic/Confucian are vulnerable to?

    I know such an examen must exist since the early church was filled with them. I feel something along the lines of an elaborated “Seven Deadly Sins” might be more useful than one based on the 10 commandments, since Aristotle would have no trouble endorsing the 10 commandments, but would have a problem with Seven Deadly Sins, since he saw Pride as a virtue.

  5. Kathy C says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf, can you please re-post that link? I’d like to see it. I’m a convert and got absolutely NO preparation for the process of confession.

    Thank you for what you do Father.

  6. Jayna says:

    After I saw your post, I e-mailed my priest to see if there was something I could put on the parish website. Turns out the archdiocesan Office of Divine Worship has a confession aid available online, so I added that to the site. Not quite as thorough as Fr. Finigan’s, but it’s better than nothing.

  7. Mariana says:


    Thank you! What you describe, although I used to be a High Church Lutheran, is exactly my experience. I go through lists of sins and find I don’t commit any of them, but at the same time I know that on some level I MUST be comitting these or other sins.

    Actually, SupertradMum, in another thread yesterday, had a link to Sensus Traditionis, and there I found ‘Examination of Conscience-long’ which actually helped me a lot, specially the things listed under ‘Sins contrary to the Eighth Commandment.’

  8. yatzer says:

    Well, it’s comforting to know there are others who don’t see much that is pertinent on most Examinations of Conscience. I also know that I’m overlooking something, but am perplexed as to what that might be. I’d rather know now than upon meeting the Lord right after my demise.

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