A Preparation for Confession

Examination of Conscience

Moses receiving the Law on SinaiPrior to approaching a priest for confession and absolution, in the silence of your heart, it is advisable to perform an examination of your conscience in order to ensure proper preparation and a thorough confession.

While there are many methods of preparing for confession, many people find examining their lives against the Ten Commandments to be particularly helpful.

As we reflect on the commandments, it is also a good idea to make a list of the sins that we identify.  Not only will this help us to remember our sins when we come to confess them, but it can help us to avoid them in the future.  It can be very easy sometimes to leave confession, freshly absolved, with a feeling of freedom from the burden of our sins, only to fall very quickly into the same pattern as soon as we walk out of the church.  Then, the following week, we find ourselves confessing the same sins all over again.

This can be likened to somebody who inhales a poisonous gas, and who goes to the hospital to receive the right treatment for his symptoms.  He might leave the hospital fully cured and feeling better, but if he returns to the activity or place where he was exposed to the poison in the first place, he can hardly be surprised when he finds himself back in the hospital with the same problem.

In a similar way, we can come to Christ for forgiveness and, if we are contrite, we will receive it, but for there to be lasting healing there must be a true resolve on our part not merely to ask forgiveness for what we have done, but also to turn away from the way of life that led us to do it.  This is our synergeia - our co-operation - with the work of God in our lives.

A list that we can take away with us can provide us with a helpful reminder of those elements of our lives - actions, thoughts, situations in which we place ourselves - that we are trying to avoid, and can help us to provide a model for the good things with which we wish to replace them.

The First Commandment

"You shall have no other gods before Me."

The Second Commandment

"You shall not make for yourself any idols, nor bow down to them, nor worshp them."

The Third Commandment

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

The Fourth Commandment

"Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy."

The Fifth Commandment

"Honour your father and mother."

The Sixth Commandment

"You shall not murder."

The Seventh Commandment

"You shall not commit adultery."

The Eighth Commandment

"You shall not steal."

The Ninth Commandment

"You shall not bear false witness."

The Tenth Commandment

"You shall not covet."