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In the Scriptures

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Penitence makes me realistic about myself. – As soon as I say, “Lord Jesus Christ Have Mercy on me a Sinner” all the self delusions fall away and I can begin to see myself as I really am.
Penitence makes me realistic about other people. – Not only realistic, but compassionate. If I’m a struggling sinner, then so is everyone else. What’s the saying, “Be kind, everyone is fighting a great battle.”
Penitence makes me realistic about God – If I’m a sinner and see myself clearly, then I suddenly see God clearly too. I cut through the sentimentality or the fear or whatever false image of God and should be able to see him as the loving and forgiving Father.

Penitence makes me able to learn. – You can’t learn anything if you think you know it all. You can learn to be righteous is you think you already are. Saying you’re a sinner is the first step to enlightenment.

Penitence makes me aware of my need for God – The cry “O Lord make haste to help me!” is the cry of a person in need. We can only be given what we need when we ask for what we need and we can only ask if we first realize we have a need.

Penitence opens my heart – The hardened heart is a fearful thing, and no one who is truly penitent can have a hardened heart. Immediately we cry out in penitence we make a great soul jump forward. The opened heart is a heart that can sing.

Penitence takes me to the heart of humanity – When I am penitent I see the whole human condition and therefore the whole of human culture, history and relationships from a new and amazing light. The whole world is crying out to God. Every aspect of human culture and accomplishment and learning is a desire for God, and now I can see it.

Penitence makes the angels sing and the demons howl – This is in the gospel.

Penitence makes me aware of death – and this is a good thing.

Penitence makes me humble - humility and humorous and humus are all the same word: they’re linked with the earth. Penitence brings me down to earth. Down where I ought to be.

Penitence gives me joy – Sorrow first, then joy. When I’ve come down to earth I’ve come down to myself, and that gives me joy and freedom and make me laugh.

Penitence helps me to be myself. – At last I can be who I was created to be. This is who I am. I am good, but not perfect. I am a sinner but I am forgiven. I am a fallen Son of God, but I’ve been lifted up, put on my feet, brushed down and headed toward home.

 ~ By Father Dwight  Longnecker                      
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  O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and fear the pains of hell, but most of all, because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and worthy of all my love. I firmly intend with the help of Thy grace to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. AMEN 

Examination of Conscience

I. “I am the Lord, thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.”

Have I sinned against Religion by seriously believing in New Age, Scientology, Astrology, Horoscopes, Fortune-telling, Superstition or engaging in the Occult? Did I endanger my Catholic Faith or cause scandal by associating with anti-Catholic groups & associations (e.g., the Freemasons)? Have fame, fortune, money, career, pleasure, etc. replaced God as my highest priority? Have I neglected my daily prayers?

II. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

Have I committed blasphemy by using the name of God and Jesus Christ to swear rather than to praise? Have I committed sacrilege by showing disrespect to holy objects (crucifix, rosary) or contempt for religious persons (bishop, priests, deacons, women religious) or for sacred places (in Church). Have I committed sacrilege by going to Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin without first going to confession e.g., after missing Mass on Sunday or a Holyday? Did I violate the one-hour fast before Communion? Did I break the laws of fast and abstinence during Lent? Did I neglect my Easter duty to receive Holy Communion at least once? Have I neglected to support the Church and the poor by sharing my time, talent and treasure?

III. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.

Did I miss Mass on any Sunday or Holyday of Obligation? (Bad weather and being sick do not count) Have I shown disrespect by leaving Mass early, not paying attention or not joining in the prayers? Did I do unnecessary work on Sunday which could have been done the day before? Have I been stingy in my support for the Church? Do I give of my time & talent?

IV. Honor thy Father and Mother.

Parents: Have I set a bad example for my children by casually missing Mass, neglecting prayer, or ignore my responsibility to provide a Catholic education by either sending my children to parochial school or to C.C.D. (Religious Education Program)? Do I show little or no interest in my children’s faith and practice of it? Have I showed disrespect for those in authority, government or church? Have I not expressed my moral values to them? 

Children: Have I been disobedient and/or disrespectful to my parents or guardians? Did I neglect to help them with household chores? Have I caused them unnecessary worry and anxiety by my attitude, behavior, moods, etc.?

V. Thou shalt not kill.

Did I consent, recommend, advise, approve, support or have an abortion? Did I realize that there is an excommunication for anyone who procures an abortion? Did I actively or passively cooperate with an act of euthanasia whereby ordinary means were stopped or means taken to directly end the life of an elderly or sick person? Have I committed an act of violence or abuse (physical, sexual, emotional or verbal)? Have I endangered the lives of others by reckless driving or by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Do I show contempt for my body by neglecting to take care of my own health? Have I been mean or unjust to anyone? Have I held a grudge or sought revenge against someone who wronged me? Do I point out others’ faults and mistakes while ignoring my own? Do I complain more than I compliment? Am I ungrateful for what other people do for me? Do I tear people down rather than encourage them? Am I prejudiced against people because of their color, language or ethnic-religious background?

VI. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

IX. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.

Did I have any sex before or outside of marriage? Do I view pornographic material (magazines, videos, internet, hot-lines)? Have I gone to massage parlors or adult book stores? Did I commit the sins of masturbation and/or artificial contraception? Have I not avoided the occasions of sin (persons or places) which would tempt me to be unfaithful to my spouse or to my own chastity? Do I encourage and entertain impure thoughts and desires? Do I tell or listen to dirty jokes? Have I committed fornication or adultery?

VII. Thou shalt not steal.

X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.

Have I stolen any object, committed any shoplifting or cheated anyone of their money? Did I knowingly deceive someone in business or commit fraud? Have I shown disrespect or even contempt for other people’s property? Have I done any acts of vandalism? Am I greedy or envious of another’s goods? Do I let financial and material concerns or the desire for comfort override my duty to God, to Church, to my family or my own spiritual well-being?

VIII. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Have I told a lie in order to deceive someone? Have I told the truth with the purpose and intention of ruining someone’s reputation (sin of detraction)? Have I told a lie or spread rumors which may ruin someone’s reputation (sin of calumny or slander)? Did I commit perjury by false swearing an oath on the Bible? Am I a busybody or do I love to spread gossip and secrets about others? Do I love to hear bad news about my enemies?