The basic requirement for a good confession is to have the intention of returning to God with your whole heart, like the prodigal son (in Luke 15), and to acknowledge your sins with true sorrow before the priest, who is there to remind you of Christ.
Modern society has lost a sense of sin. As Catholic followers of Christ, we must make an effort to recognize sin in our daily actions, words and omissions. An examination of conscience helps us do just that. To make a good examination of conscience and to live a life in right relationship with God, His laws, and the happiness He desires for us, it is also critical for each of us to develop a well-formed conscience.
What is an examination of conscience?
An examination of conscience is a review of one’s past thoughts, words and actions for the purpose of discerning their conformity with or unconformity with the moral law (NewAdvent.org). In other words, an examination of conscience helps you identify the moments in your life when you’ve pleased God with your virtue—the good things you’ve done or said—or when, conversely, you have fallen into sin. If you examine your conscience in order to uncover and reflect on your sins, you can then bring those uncovered sins before God in the Sacrament of Confession and ask for His forgiveness.
Here are several examinations of conscience for you to choose from. Find one you like, print it out, and use it as you prepare for your Confession. You can even bring it with you into the confessional!
Get your FREE COPY of Examination of Conscience and Catholic Doctrine from the Fathers of Mercy or an Examination of Conscience with the Ten Commandments pamphlet from Franciscan Media!
In order to grow in virtue and “grow out” of sin, you should do a brief examination of conscience every night before bed. Recall all of your venial sins from the day, and ask for God’s forgiveness. If you have committed mortal sin, make sure you get to Confession as soon as possible.