Examination of Conscience


A Tronie Of An An Old Man At Prayer, Jacques Des Rousseaux (1632), license

Before we can go for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and seek God’s forgiveness of our sins, we must first identify our sins through a process called the Examination of Conscience.1

For any sins we identify, we must note them and the number of times we committed them since our last confession.1

Methods of examining ourselves

In this process, we check ourselves against:

  • The Commandments1
  • The Beatitudes1
  • The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 – 7)
  • The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25)
  • The definition of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-13)

Questions to examine ourselves

There are only two questions to examine yourself by that encompass all of the above resources.

  1. Do I love God above all things?
  2. Do I love others as Christ loved me?

Reflect on these questions carefully. Review your day to see if you could have done better according to these two questions. You will uncover sins that you can bring to the priest in confession.

An easy way to look at this is to ask yourself: Did you help God or the devil? Did you contribute to order or chaos? Did you lift others up or put them down? Did you repair relationships or break relationships? Did you gather people together or scatter them apart?

You can also use the sub-questions below for more guidance.

Do I love God above all things?

Saint Francis in Meditation, Francisco de Zurbarán (1639)

Do you love God so much and make your relationship with Him such a high priority that all you can think about is how you can better execute His will in every moment of your life?

If you lost everything, would you still be happy because you still had God?

Have you protected God’s name and anything belonging to God from being misused?

Have you honored Sunday and all holy days as a special day just for God by attending Mass, spending time with God and loving those around you?

Do I love others as Jesus Christ loved me?

The Death of Saint Joseph, Pedro Alexandrino de Carvalho (18th century)

Have you loved, respected and taken care of your parents, spouse and children with the kind of love Jesus Christ has for you?

Have you loved, respected and taken care of all those who need your help such as your family members, friends, neighbours, parish community, the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the widow, the orphan, the lonely, the abandoned, the outcast and the stranger; all with the kind of love Jesus Christ has for you?

Have you tried to bridge broken relationships where possible either through intervention or prayer?

St. Peter Preaching, Masolino da Panicale (1426-1427)

Have you avoided participating in someone else’s sin?

Have you avoided helping or encouraging others to sin?

Have you tried to stop everyone from sinning where you were obligated to?

Have you prayed for those who have passed away and for the conversion of sinners?

Have you treated with gentleness and forgiven all those who have hurt you and your loved ones?

Icon of Simeon Stylites the Elder with Simeon Stylites the Younger (1699)

Have you been detached from material things, humble, meek, righteous, merciful, pure, peaceful?

Have you avoided looking at, thinking about or engaging in anything sexually impure, anything that a saint would never do?

Have you respected other peoples properties and returned what did not belong to you?

Have you represented the truth and avoided hurting other peoples reputation?

Have you been grateful, happy and satisfied with what God has given you and not desired anything that belonged to anyone else?

Contrition & Confession

Record your sins and the number of times you have committed them. Conclude your examination of conscience with the Act of Contrition and Act of Love. If you have committed any mortal sins, make a commitment to visit confession as soon as possible.