The Sacrament of Penance


Examination of Conscience

“To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law
is within my heart!”
Ps 40:8


The Sacrament of Penance restores the gift of God’s grace after it has been lost through mortal sin.

What is a sin?

Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight” ( Psalm 51:4)  When we sin we offend God, at the same time sin harms our spiritual growth and disconnect us from the community of faith.

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all you soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment, The second resembles it: You must love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole law, and the prophets also.”

Matthew 22:37-40


How do we make an examination of Conscience when preparing for Sacrament of Penance?


I.   Begin by praying the Act of Contrition:

O my God I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishment , but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good, and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with help of Thy Grace, to sin no more , and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen 1

II. Go over the ten commandment and see if I have failed at any.

The Ten Commandments of God are:

1. I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have strange gods beside Me.

2. You shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain.

3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath.

4. Honor your father and mother.

5. You shall not kill.

6. You shall not commit adultery.

7. You shall not steal.

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s good.


III. Go over the Works of Mercy, that I summarize as “Do unto others as you would like for them to do unto you.”

Corporal Work of Mercy:

1. Feed the hungry

2. Clothe the ones who need clothing.

3. Give drink to the thirsty.

4. Shelter the homeless.

5. Visit the sick and the imprisoned.

6. Ransom the captive.

7. Bury the dead.

Spiritual Work of Mercy:

1. Instruct the ignorant.

2. Advise the doubtful.

3. Correct the sinners.

4. Be patient  with those in error or who do wrong.

5. Forgive offenses.

6. Comfort the afflicted .

7. Pray for the living and the dead.

IV. I reflect on the Commandments of the Church

In the United States the following precepts were presented by the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore:

1. Keep the Sundays and holy days of  obligation by assisting at Mass and desisting from servile work.

2. Fast and abstain on the days appointed by the Church.

3. Go to Confession at least once a year if serious sin is involved.

4. . Receive the Blessed Sacrament during the season of Easter.

5. Contribute to the support of the Church and its pastors.

6. Do not marry within certain degrees of kindred nor solemnize marriage during a forbidden time.

The bishops of the United States stress also as duties worthy of all Catholic Christians that they “join in the missionary spirit and apostolate of the Church.”2

V. I recount my sins and remember God’s love for me and truly sorrowful for my sins and with the resolution of not sinning again I pray to the Lord the Confiteor:

I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

In summary: We think of our sins, with Jesus. We are sorry for our sins. We decide not to sin again, confess our sins, receive absolution and do penance.

“Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from  God’s mercy for the offense committed against him , and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sin and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion.” Catechism  of the Catholic Church (c) 1994

General References:

1. Broderick, Robert C. THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA © 1976

2.Heerey, Frances C., S.C.H.  FIRST PENACE The Sacrament of Reconciliation © 1984


The Sacrament of Penance- References:

Catechism of the Catholic Church #1420-1498, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota © 1994

The Sacrament of Penance and the Jubilee Year- Questions and Answers,  - U.S. Bishops' Web Site

How to Go to Confession,
- U.S. Bishops' Web Site


This article was written by Marta- for LEAP OF FAITH-

January 2000


© 2000- LEAP OF FAITH – Marta –

How to Go to Confession


Walk in and sit or kneel.

Together Priest and penitent make the Sign of the Cross.

You say: Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It has been ------ since I have gone to confession.

Tell your sins.

“I am sorry for my sins.”

The priest usually will give you penance to do, like saying a given prayer.

Together he will lead you to say the Act of Contrition.

The priest extends his hands and says the prayer of absolution, to which you respond “Amen.”

“Give Thanks to the Lord for He is good.- His mercy endures forever.”

“The Lord has freed you from your sins.  Go in Peace.” -

“Thanks be to God.  Thank you, Father.”


Resources for further reading:

Catechism of the Catholic Church #1420-1498, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota © 1994

The Sacrament of Penance and the Jubilee Year- Questions and Answers
, - U.S. Bishops' Web Site

How to Go to Confession, - U.S. Bishops' Web Site


Published by LEAP OF FAITH-

January 21, 2000