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Confession with Pope Francis: The 3-step outline for doing an Examination of Conscience

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These questions would help prepare all of our hearts for Reconciliation

Pope Francis presided over a penance service in the Vatican on March 17, hearing the confessions of several lay people, and going to confession himself.

The celebration was an anticipation of “24 hours for the Lord,” organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. This initiative is an invitation for churches worldwide to make confession available for a full 24 hours.

A three-step outline for doing an examination of conscience to prepare for confessions was provided at the Vatican event.

Read it here (in Italian).

Following three initial questions, the examen focuses on three main areas.

1. Do I approach the sacrament of Penance with a sincere desire for purification, conversion, renewal of life, and a more intimate friendship with God? Or do I consider it rather as a burden, which I am only rarely willing to bear?

2. Have I purposefully forgotten or kept silent regarding grave sins in my most recent confession, or earlier confessions?

3. Have I fulfilled the penance that was imposed on me? Have I made reparation for the damage that I’ve done? Have I sought to put into practice my resolutions to amend my life according to the Gospel?

In the light of the word of God, let each person examine himself…

I. The Lord says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart”

1. Is my heart truly oriented toward God? Can I say that I love him truly above all else, with filial love, in faithful observance of his commandments? Do I allow myself to get too absorbed by worldly things? Do I always act with the correct intention?

2. Do I have firm faith in God, who has given us his Word in his Son? Do I adhere fully to the doctrine of the Church? Do I concern myself with my Christian formation, listening to the word of God, participating in catechesis, and avoiding whatever could be a threat to my faith? Have I always professed my faith in God and in the Church courageously and fearlessly? Have I given proof of my Christianity through my actions in private and public life?

3. Have I prayed in the morning and at night? Is my prayer a true heart-to-heart conversation with God, or is it only an empty exterior practice? Have I remembered to offer to God my activities, my joys, and my sorrows? Do I also turn to him confidently for help when I am tempted?

4. Do I revere and love the holy name of God, or have I offended him with blasphemy, with false oaths, or by using his name in vain? Have I been irreverent regarding the Virgin Mary and the saints?

5. Do I keep holy the Lord’s day and the Church’s holy days of obligation, taking part in liturgical celebrations and especially Holy Mass with active, attentive, and pious participation? Have I avoided doing unnecessary work on Sundays? Have I observed the precept of confession at least once a year and Communion during the Easter season?

6. Do I have “other gods”—namely, things I am more interested in, or in which I put more confidence, than in God, such as: wealth, superstition, Spiritism, or other forms of magic?

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