Examination of Conscience resources from a rock-solid, reliable priest!

I am often asked for a good Examination of Conscience resource, or Examen.

Some time ago my good friend Fr. Tim Finigan, His Hermeneuticalness, had posted on the website of his former parish 3 good PDFS for a small trifold pamphlet, for adults, teens and children.  When Father moved to a new parish, the new pharaoh came who knew not Finigan. Those files vanished.

I wrote to Fr. Finigan.  He sent me the files and said that I could share them.

This is a bit of an experiment for me.  They are uploaded to Dropbox rather than my own server.  Also, in the UK they not only drive on the wrong side of the road, they also use the paper format A4, which is slightly different from the US standard Letter size.  I’m sure you will figure it out.

Father F said that he may be revising them and making color… sorry… colour versions.  I’m sure he will let us know on his outstanding, but lately too-rarely-updated, blog.  HERE



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. CradleRevert says:

    The great Fr. Robert Altier also created an aid for examining one’s conscience. You can find this easily by searching for it online.

  2. Mike says:

    I seem to recall having seen Fr. Finigan’s examen before, very possibly on this blog. Thank you for sharing it.

    In between Confessions, one might also consider using Fr. Peter Carota’s suggestions for a daily or particular examen. I like using these at night — they offer me some reassurance that I haven’t missed a lesson I could have learned from the day.

  3. Mariana2 says:

    Thanks, Father! We drive on the right, but have A4 paper. I find the American standard letter paper size much nicer than A4. A4 is so tall and drawn out, the American size is squat and more friendly!

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    It is good for someone who only occasionally goes to confession. If I had seen these earlier I might have had a use for them. I need a more detailed form of examination of conscience for myself. The Father Altier one mentioned above is useful.

    I am never sure if kids understand what “impure behavior” means. I am a catechist and I occasionally use this kind of language but I have never been sure if it is understood or not.

  5. Zephyrinus says:

    Thank you, Fr Z, for these Confessional resources.

    Coincidentally, Fr Finigan has a new outstanding Parish Web-Site. It’s well worth a visit over at http://margatecatholic.org/

  6. Nan says:

    I’ve been using Fr Altiers for examination of conscience for years. His sister in law carries them and gave me a copy. They’re available online in pdf and at Leaflet Missal in booklet form.

  7. Alice says:

    My oldest is preparing for his first Confession and I really like the examination of conscience in the Children’s Guide to Confession from the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. (It’s easy to find online.) I used it with my CCD students when I was teaching 2nd grade and I found that it really helps form young consciences. I especially like the way it handles the VI and IX Commandments. It doesn’t give too much information, but it does ask questions that a child is likely to understand.

  8. majuscule says:

    About Dropbox files–

    I don’t use Dropbox a lot but I do have an account. It worked like a charm for me.

    It printed out okay but I think the A4 size might have made some (little) difference.

    I’m hoping to get to confession this evening!

  9. scotus says:

    I had a look at the examination provided by Fr Altier. Looks useful although one item had me a bit puzzled: listening to bad music. What constitutes ‘bad music’? Is there a type of music which is ‘bad’ or does this refer to the words? If the music, what music might be ‘bad’. Apart from the obvious. eg. Anything by Schoenberg or Heavy Metal! Or, whisper it quietly, The St Louis Jesuits. But their music isn’t so much ‘bad’ as just awful or inappropriate.

  10. Elizabeth D says:

    The most bad music I listen to intentionally is Lady Tambourine Priest. Still that is probably either a sin or an imperfection, or at least the fact I laugh at the line “it’s warm where I am going to.” I am sorry for my sin or imperfection.

  11. Blaise says:

    Thank you for this Father. I remember looking for then previously and I will be checking the children’s one for my son who should be making his first confession this spring.
    Adobe reader has a print option to

  12. Blaise says:

    Oops that got published too soon. The print option “fit to paper” in adobe reaser should fit A4 docs onto your Letter size as I do that the other way around.

  13. iamlucky13 says:

    I’ve definitely seen the adult version of this before. It seems its made quite a few rounds.

    FYI, on my browser there were some rendering errors (some lines showing upside down and mirrored) in the Dropbox preview, but when I downloaded the PDF it all showed up fine.

    @ Elizabeth D.
    “I am never sure if kids understand what “impure behavior” means. “

    Or adults, for that matter. Leaving things ambiguous provides ample room for individual interpretation, and a penitent who is resistant to admitting they could have done something wrong is probably going to make a lax interpretation of that line.

    I guess we should keep in mind that it’s an examination of conscience, rather than a formation of conscience. While regular examination helps with formation, this is a structured list of reminders to help in preparing for an individual confession, and the overall process of developing a well-formed conscience is more involved.

  14. pelerin says:

    Those who think they have seen this before may have picked up one while waiting for Confession in the English language in Lourdes. I saw the leaflet there several years ago and was delighted to see that it had been written by Fr Finigan then of Blackfen whom I had had the pleasure of meeting on several occasions.

  15. Gabriel Syme says:

    Many thanks to Father Z and Father F for sharing these useful resources.

    People should be able to print it adequately on any sized paper if they choose the “fit to paper” (or similar) option when setting their print choices.

    @ Mariana2: Whaddya mean the American’s paper is much nicer than ours? Traitor of the paper wars! Haha! ;-)

  16. Our Parish uses the Examination of Conscience by the Fathers of Mercy. They sit on a table right outside the confessional.

  17. CradleRevert says:


    Having been in the pews for some of Fr. Altier’s sermons on the subject, I think he’s referring to much of the modern day secular music which glorifies all sorts of immorality. He has also made the point before that certain styles of music (heavy metal and the such), regardless of whether they contain any inappropriate lyrics, can also be damaging to the soul’s interior peace. I tend to agree with him on this.

  18. andia says:

    One of the exams had this “Did I abandon the Catholic Faith for any period of time?”–I confessed to being away from many years the first time I went and then to taking vows as a Buddhist fighting Monk later ( when I became aware this could be an issue, since fighting monks and religious monks are substantially different I did not realize this could be an issue and confessed when I was aware it could be) I assume that one only has to confess these types of sins once. Correct?

  19. Fr. Reader says:

    I am a convert to European paper.

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