The lack of good holy people and priests; the downfall of people attending and participating in Mass; the great flood of depression and despair that people feel, is all from SIN. Once we understand how to remove sin from our lives, we will begin to lead lives of great joy and peace. This all starts by learning how to properly examine our conscience. According to St. Theresa of Avila, to even consider one’s self a Christian, one needs to daily examine their conscience [so they know the sins they are committing in order to hopefully amend them]. That is how important examining one’s conscience is…we can’t say we don’t want to sin, if we don’t even care to know what our sins are.
Strive always to confess your sins with a deep knowledge of your own wretchedness and with clarity and purity.
–St. John of the Cross
MAKE A GOOD CONFESSION
Confession needs to be taken very seriously. Making a good confession not only frees us from sin (which is why we suffer in vain), but it’s also essential to receiving the grace God wishes to bestow upon us to help us in our earthly lives, as well as deliver the sanctifying grace we need for the salvation of our souls. Our life of joy is waiting for us – through the removal of our sins by God’s grace in the sacrament of reconciliation. We will be partaking in a divine encounter with Christ where we will experience God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, and we need to prepare ourselves for such an experience.
First and foremost, we must realize forgiveness is only given in the sacrament of reconciliation if the penitent (person confessing) has actual sorrow for their sins. Having knowledge of ones sins doesn’t constitute forgiveness. Someone can say they are sorry for X,Y,Z in confession and if they aren’t truly sorry, God who read the mind and probes the heart won’t grant forgiveness. They will continue to miss out on the life of joy God is wishing to give them and most likely eternal life as well. Therefore, if we don’t truly have a contrite heart (sorrowful heart) for all of our sins then pray and pray diligently to God for the desire to hate all of our sins and the willingness to work hard to sin no more. (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church #1451).
To make sure we don’t neglect our responsibility to examine our conscience daily and miss out on the grace God wishes to bestow on us, scheduling regular confessions can help as it holds us accountable to properly—and frequently—look into our choices and receiving the grace God uses to help us live a life of joy. Confession brings on greater humility, as well as a greater awareness of our sins, through the many graces God delivers. By God’s great love and mercy, He gives us the tools we need to combat temptation and avoid sin, while we develop a wonderful, joy-filled life and deeper relationship with Him. Confession helps eradicate our sins—through penance—and prepares our souls to receive all the heavenly rewards that await those who love and obey Him.
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. –1 John 1:9
If you think you don’t sin Click Here.
Many go through life saying, “I’m not so bad. I only commit some sins, and they aren’t really all that terrible. Others commit much worse sins than mine.” They claim they aren’t “greatly” hurting God by doing what they’re doing. So in other words, they’re fine with causing their Creator “just a little” pain. Don’t they realize how hurtful it must be for God to know His children are okay with scourging Him “just a little?” They don’t possess the most basic of all requirements to receive forgiveness and that is actual sorrow. Violating the first and greatest commandment is a grave offense towards God. And yet others think sin doesn’t even offend God who has countless times in the Bible told us of His anger towards sin. “Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath” (Deuteronomy 9:7).
What kind of love do we have for God that we don’t even want to TRY to not wound our Lord through our sins. Without detesting our sins and having a resolution (plan) to sin no more, no actual sorrow exists. Our Lord chose to be tortured in the most horrible way to save us, yet, some are OK with offending Him some more. If we only understood the gravity of sin, we would never be complacent with our actions again. The sins we aren’t sorry for aren’t forgiven because we love sin over God and are committing idolatry (love of sin) with those offenses.
Imagine if every time we sinned we had to physically go up to Christ, who’s kneeling in prayer on our behalf in front of the Father, and literally whip Him “just a little” for each “little” sin we’ve committed. I’m sure we’d be mortified and do everything we could to sin no more. How could anyone bear to torture Jesus? Yet, that is what we do with each and every sin, we dishonor our God who suffered tremendously and died for us. Still today in heaven, His sacred heart suffers from our rejection of His love. God is a Lord of love with emotions and since He wants all His children in heaven His heart is broken from the loss of so many souls who reject His Divine Mercy love and choose hell instead. Jesus told us to sin no more and to strive to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. However, we blatantly disregard or even bother to try to fulfill what He said. How very hurtful it must be for Him to see us having no sorrow for these sins. What kind of children of God do we want to be? We should be brought to tears at the thought of what our offenses do to Him. This is the sorrow we need to be welcomed into the kingdom of heaven–perfect contrition.
I have founded My whole law on love, and yet I do not see love, even in religious orders. This is why sadness fills My heart (Jesus – St. Faustina’s Diary 1478).
This is the kind of sorrowful attitude we should have toward our sins…all of our sins. We should detest each and every one of them. Sin is serious. Not only because sin hurts us but more importantly because all sin dishonors and hurts is beautiful loving heart of our Lord, God, and Creator whom we should love with all of our hearts. Anything else is an abomination of love.
But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! –Luke 12:5
RID YOUR LIFE OF SIN – IT’S THE ONLY WAY TO JOY
Ridding our lives of sin is the only way to experience true joy. There is nothing else that will bring us joy of this kind. Change some times can be very hard especially when our sins have become part of our daily actions. However, when we rid our lives of sin we come into a far deeper relationship with God, as it’s our sins that separate us from Him. When we’re closer to God, we are filled with His love, which brings us that true joy we all crave. No worldly gratification, which might seem enjoyable, will ever deliver the happiness we all yearn for. Real joy and happiness comes from God alone, and we can’t know God and His joy, if our sins are pushing Him away. Know God – know love – know joy.
The want of [lack of] proper examination, true contrition [actual sorrow], and a firm purpose of amendment [the desire to change–sin no more], is the cause of bad confessions, and the ruin of souls.
– St. Benedict Joseph Labre
HOW TO EXAMINE YOUR CONSCIENCE
There is a real EFFECTIVE METHOD on how to open up your heart to know your sins (this really works):
Step 1: Truly desire to grow in holiness and closeness with God through prayer and reading God’s Word (Bible) while desiring to live its instructions.
Step 2: Learn the graces which can be received from the sacrament, through God’s great mercy, and learn how to obtain them. (Click Here)
Step 3: Learn the difference between mortal and venial sin (see definitions below)
Step 4: Learn the different kinds of sins as described in the Bible (see the lists below) to find which you commit.
Step 5: Practice looking into your daily choices to recognize your sins (see below)
Step 6: Learn how to look deep into your choices so you can ask yourself why you sinned. (Instructions on how to do this can be found after the list of sins) This shouldn’t be attempted until after you have successfully accomplished the steps above. You must have a basic awareness of your sins before you can have a deeper awareness of them. These are the stages of development for reconciliation. These are skills that need to be built upon. We need to pass from spiritual infancy, into adolescence, into adult-hood, and then onto maturity to be able to successfully examine our consciences with open, humble hearts for real in-depth knowledge of our sins, and an intense closeness with God.
Step 7: Find ways to avoid your sin (make specific resolutions). This is a MUST DO.
Step 8: What is God trying to teach me? What blessings have come from my actions? What are the consequences of my actions? We can learn from our successes but it is through our failures—when we are humbled—that God really teaches us the way to salvation. Find the good from each circumstance.
Click here to download an abridged version of the
Examination of Conscience brochure.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
— Matthew 5:8
At first this will take some time to learn, but our salvation and earthly joy is worth it. With practice it will become effortless.
Step 1: Desire holiness and to spend eternity in heaven through consistent prayer, reading of the Bible and living the Word.
Step 2: Learn how to obtain grace (click here)
Step 3: Learn the difference in sins.
There are two kinds of sins:
Mortal Sin – destroys our relationship with God, resulting in the loss of sanctifying grace—the grace needed for salvation—which makes us deserving of hell if we were to die with unrepentant (not forgiven) mortal sin on our souls. We know—or at least we should know that mortal sins are serious, but we choose to commit them anyway. Through our weaknesses, a sinful “reflex” can’t be a mortal sin. For example, someone hits us and as a reflex we punch them back, which is an assault but isn’t a mortal sin since we didn’t have a chance to “think about doing it”—in which case even if the punch kills someone, it still isn’t a mortal sin. However, if we were to explode in a rage after being hit, and beat that person to death for punching us, then that is a mortal sin since “reflexes” only last for a fraction of a second and then logical thinking and choice takes over. Even planning to assault someone that doesn’t result in death could be a mortal sin. It’s all in our intentions, and God knows full well what they are.
Any sin we commit and refuse to stop committing, even if the sin is venial, it becomes mortal because intentionally choosing to wound God with our sins, with no desire to stop, is loving our sin over God and is idolatry and idolatry is always mortal.
Know that just as all mortal sins are very serious, so too a venial sin is made mortal if a human being delights in it with the intention of persevering [doesn’t intend to stop]. —Jesus – St. Bridget
Looking at why we commit sins will help us determine the seriousness of them. Forgetting the truth (becoming deaf or blind to sin) or trying to justify our actions does not omit us from guilt (judgement). If we aren’t sure whether a sin is mortal or not it’s best to confess it as soon as possible, just in case it is.
Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy (Jesus – St. Faustina Diary 1602)
Through God’s incredible mercy, even if we are dead in our sins and deserving of hell because of our choices, God is still calling us and welcoming us into His Kingdom, through His most merciful sacrament of reconciliation. God wants to forgive the truly contrite (sorrowful) sinners of all their sins. When that happens, all the angels and saints in heaven—along with God—will rejoice over the repentant sinner’s return to Him. However, to receive salvation, we must go to confession to be forgiven of our mortal sins.* Mortal sin on our souls—if we remain unrepentant—has devastating consequences. Daily we lose grace which leaves us with a loss of faith, loss of acceptable morals, loss of desire to serve God (selfishness), loss of truth, loss of joy, loss of our relationship with God, and ultimately the loss of our salvation if we do not confess those mortal sins. Mortal sins should be avoided at all cost and confessed immediately if we commit such offenses.
Venial Sin- hurts our relationship with God but sanctifying grace—the grace needed for salvation—still remains in our souls. Venial sins are less serious than mortal sins, yet we should also work hard to not commit venial sins, since all sins hurt God. Venial sin also weakens our souls against avoiding mortal sin, and keeps us from knowing and serving God the way we should. When venial sins are confessed—recommended but not mandatory for salvation—we can grow in holiness through the merciful forgiveness and supernatural graces which pour forth from the sacrament. Boundless graces await us when we enter the confessional with a truly contrite (sorrowful) heart. Also, if we are blessed with a priest who gives us empowering words to help guide us away from our sins, then praise God, as that’s even more reason to frequent confession.
If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly [venial], he should pray to God and he will give him life [forgive him]. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly [not deserving of hell]. There is such a thing as deadly sin [mortal sin], about which I do not say that you should pray [must go to confession]. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.
— 1 John 5:16-17
Read the list to the RIGHT to become familiarized with some Mortal Sins.
Step 4: Learn the vast array of sins to understand which ones we have committed.
Below is a list of some sins with descriptions, which are taken from God’s Commands and instructions from the Bible.
Sins vary in degree and kind; some sins are sins of commission (sins you commit), and others are the sins of omission (the things we should have done but didn’t).
Scrupulosity or Enlightenment?
After we begin to become aware of our wretchedness, and begin to see some of the many sins we commit every day, there is a chance we might develop a scrupulous conscious—which is when someone nit-picks at each and every imperfection they have; they could even begin to make up sins that clearly aren’t there or see God as a tyrant that would condemn them for even the slightest offense, which simply isn’t our loving God at all. Someone might perhaps fear that at any moment they have committed a mortal sin when it simply isn’t true, therefor making it necessary frequent confession out of fear of falling outside of grace (friendship with God). These are signs of despair related to confession and when someone has a healthy outlook on the knowledge of their sins, they don’t possess any of these worries, and they joyfully look forward to learning and removing their sins while growing in greater holiness. The knowledge of their wretchedness brings upon a greater gratitude to God for His patience and mercy towards them knowing He is pleased with their efforts to grow in holiness. However to know God is loving and transforming them away from their sins, especially if they are still committing mortal sin, can be especially difficult if they haven’t yet experienced God’s incredible transforming mercy on their own wretched soul. But rest assured God doesn’t look at us through our sins. He sees us as the beautiful creation He made. He sees our potential. He understands our fallen nature and joyfully awaits our transformation as long as we desire it too.
If after reflecting on the commandments we become enlightened to sins we weren’t previously aware of, we ought to praise God for granting us this new awareness. Find the lesson for this circumstance and the blessings God is giving us. He’s giving us an awesome opportunity to work towards eliminating these sins from our lives; for God enlightens us, not to all of our sins at once, but to whatever sins we most need to know about at the time to help us grow in holiness. Don’t be surprised if, upon growing closer to God (through the removal of your sins and the living out of a holy life), you start to gradually become aware of more and more different sins: “For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed [made known], nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light” (Luke 8:17). For the light brings knowledge.
This doesn’t mean that God expects us to be able to rid our lives of every single sin and vice immediately just because we’ve become aware of them; of course He expects us to try to rid ourselves of them (especially mortal sins), however, that is done one sin at a time. The main purpose of such enlightenment is to bring about humility through a fuller understanding of our lowness before God, and to let us know how to progress further along the right path.
Confession should be very joyful as you wait for more bountiful graces from the Lord through the sacrament and to become purified for God prior to receiving Him in the Eucharist. Yes, Confession should bring about a detest for one’s sins and a great sadness for wounding God whom we should love, but never despair or a great impending fear of hell. Any anxiety associated with confession is a sign that something is wrong.
However, in some cases, such enlightenment may start to bring about a kind of despair. If we start to feel this, we need to remember to not look at ourselves “through our sins” so to speak; after all, that isn’t how God looks at us, and He knows even more of our sins than we do. Rather, God looks at our potential and at His plan for us, and loves us unconditionally despite our own imperfections. We should make sure we never forget this. Yes, God wants us “perfect as [our] heavenly Father is perfect,” but not for the purpose of our beating ourselves up over our errors and letting them consume us on our journey to holiness. We need to believe in God’s love, forgiveness and mercy and joyfully work towards perfection. The examination of conscience is not meant to make us become distracted by our sins, but to assist us in becoming aware of them in order to better know, love, and serve God more perfectly by the removal of our sins.
Confession is the same way: for some of us, it may be accompanied by varying feelings of fear regarding our sins. While the sacrament should certainly bring about a detest for our sins and a great sadness for having hurt God whom we should love, through our unloving choices, but it should also bring us great joy as we wait for the Lord’s bountiful graces to come to us. Our sins shouldn’t consume our day. Examination of your Conscience is to assist us in becoming aware of our sins in order to direct us to God’s blessed ways to help us know, love and serve God better not to become distracted by them. Again, like the examination of conscience, confession should in no way bring about stress.
Any despair or anxiety that arises from enlightenment to our sins is a sign that something is amiss. Such anxiety can take the form of what is known as a “scrupulous conscience,” which basically refers to a tendency some people have to be way overly-paranoid with avoiding sin or think God would reject him for a venial sin (a slight offense). It may be best for those who suffer from scrupulosity to refrain from attempting to examine their consciences as described below, as such an examination may end up worsening their condition; to be safe, they should first seek healing for their scrupulous tendencies.
Step 5: Look into your daily choices
BE RIDICULOUSLY HONEST
Now that we’re aware of some the instances of both mortal and venial sins, we must look into our lives and see where we’ve fallen. Many people examine their conscience at the end of the day, but I recommend we do it through out our day. After every situation or encounter spend a second and ask ourselves how we chose to love or not love.Try to find where we fell short and can improve. Ask our selves what God is trying to teach us from that occasion since He is trying to teach us. Give praise to God for the lessons. Remember, God loves us so much, He is trying to draw us to Him in every circumstance. Then enlightenment will occur because of the desires of our hearts, the impurities of our intention and true knowledge of our offences. Remember, if we’re not acting out of love, it is a sin—not always a mortal sin, but still a sin. We should write down our sins, always including the most serious sins, as we prepare to go to confession. Confession will bring much needed humility; therefore, we shouldn’t shy away from the truth since only the humble of heart will know God. We need to be so honest that it’s embarrassing; that will bring on the humility that we need. If you find yourself spending more than just a min or two examining your conscience, stop. You shouldn’t need to focus or dwell on your sins to become aware of them. Most of our time in life shouldn’t be spent on thinking of our sins but rather on praising and desiring His will. Only jot down the sins you are aware of after a reasonable amount of time.
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
— James 4:6
WRITE DOWN YOUR SINS DAILY
We should never rely on our memory alone when we go to confession. If we can make lists and notes for things that are important for us to remember, then we should do the same for confession—what’s more important than opening up our souls to God through the priest for purification? The more sins we are aware of, the better chance we have of avoiding them in the future. We shouldn’t simply list our sins either; we should write them out in some detail. Confession isn’t about rattling off a vague list of sins, it’s about opening up our souls to the priest so God can heal us through him. Finding a humble, patient confessor who listens, who’s open to the Holy Spirit working through him, who wants to understand the depths of our souls and can help us grow in holiness is ideal, but sometimes the right priest isn’t available. We shouldn’t worry; God knows our desires and even though the journey towards perfection might be more challenging without an enlightened priest’s help, we must trust that God will send us the grace we need because of the desires of our heart.
The confessor is the doctor of the soul, but how can a doctor prescribe a suitable remedy if does not know the nature of the sickness?
— St. Faustina
While reading the list of sins, write down which sins you are aware of committing, to help you get started on knowing your sins.
Example list of sins to take to confession:Bad (don’t simply list your sins in a broad general manner; a priest can’t guide you away from your sins if he knows nothing about them): However, listing your sins–as shown–is fine if you are, say, a child in elementary school or not mentally capable of doing more.
Good (listing the sins, along with who, what, where, etc.) :
- Was selfish with my child
- Lied about my job (Just say, you lied 15 times, let the priest know and then mention the most severe instance or instances.)
- Lusted over an actress
- Complained about my wife
- Got angry with my wife
- Fought with my neighbor
- Was jealous of my brother
- Drank too much at a party
- Bragged to my co-workers
Better (add detail):
- I selfishly didn’t stop what I was doing to help my kids.
- Lied about a mistake I made at work
- Lusted extensively while looking at the tabloids
- Complained to my mother about my wife’s laziness
- Became angry with my wife and yelled at her
- Yelled at my neighbors son for littering
- Desired my brother’s job
- Became drunk at a party and behaved in an unrestrained manner
- Showed off my new paid off car at work
Best (include all of the above…and add “Why” you committed the sins?) Of course, if the line at the confessional is long, you will have to revert to the above “Better” means of confession, since going into such detail is time consuming and everyone deserves to have their sins absolved–which is the first and foremost reason anyone goes to confession. Or, you could choose to only go into detail about the sins you feel your confessor could help you with. Of course you must always confess all mortal sins no matter how long the line is. However, if you have a dedicated confessor (which is ideal), or the line isn’t long, this is the most effective way to grow in holiness since you and the priest can really get to know the underlying reasons behind your sins, as you open up your soul to the priest so God can speak to you through him—through the power of the Holy Spirit, to inspire you to sin no more.
- Since I was self-willed (wanted my own way) and lazy, I wouldn’t relent my desires and neglected to put my kids’ needs above my own because I lacked a servants heart.
- Because I didn’t want to get caught, or reprimanded for making a mistake, I failed to take responsibility for my actions. Due to pride, I lied at work to cover up my error and lacked trust in Jesus to work everything out in the end through perfect honesty.
- I lacked purity and self-control, and looked at impure material. Through lust and self-gratification I defiled my marriage and committed adultery in my heart.
- I was unloving, disrespectful and ungrateful to my wife, focusing on her imperfections. I not only complained about her to my mom, but I also got angry and yelled at her through my impatience.
- Since I was unwilling to clean up someone else’s mess and choose the cross, I selfishly degraded and intimidated my neighbors son by yelling at him when he through his trash on the my property. I should have shown more tolerance and love and looked past his sin to see Christ in him.
- When my brother told me of his promotion, I lied and told him I was happy for him when I was actually jealous and let it fester in my mind about how inferior my own job was with much ingratitude. I also thought negative thoughts about him to make me feel better about myself.
- Through lack of self-control I irresponsibly got drunk to fit in with the crowd and gain acceptance, due to my lack of self-esteem.
- Due to my lack of love, I wanted to make others jealous by showing off my new car and bragging that I’d just paid it off. I displayed great pride and lack of humility, which stemmed from my lack of self-esteem.
To him [your confessor] we must fully open our hearts. If we do so, he will be able to tell us what the Lord wishes of us. Once we have chosen a confessor, we must go to him steadily, because unless he knows us thoroughly, he can’t advise us on our vocation…Keep in mind that the chief judge of your vocation is your confessor. — St. Don Bosco
Step 6: Look deeply into your sins to find the sins behind the sins.
TRULY DESIRE TO BE PERFECT
The “Best” category listed above is designed to give enlightenment to our errors. Armed with that knowledge we can truly begin the process of eradicating our offenses against God and grow in closeness to Our Lord. To develop such a reconciliation we need to look deep into ourselves with tremendous honesty, and pray with all of our hearts to truly cease offending God in order to obtain such enlightenment. God knows our hearts and will give us the knowledge we need to easily see and examine our sinful choices, as well as the wrong reasoning behind our actions, so we can learn to sin no more. If we have a difficult time following the “Best” category, we should use the “Better” category, while we spend time in prayer, perform works of mercy, and develop an even deeper desire to change before attempting the “Best” way again. To truly know our sins, when that insight is delivered from the Holy Spirit, is effortless. Nobody should feel stress or pressure to perform in confession. With God enlightenment is easy.
It all begins with prayer and asking yourself, why? Why did I commit that sin?
ASK YOURSELF “WHY” YOU SINNED
Let’s say you’ve dressed immorally. You need to ask yourself “why.” It’s the “why” that will determine whether your choice of immoral, suggestive clothing is possibly a mortal sin or not. It’s the “why” that will help you realize your underlying sins that weakened you to commit the sin you do recognize. For example, you may have dressed immorally because you desired attention (through lack of humility and lack of satisfaction with God’s great love for you); or you don’t love yourself for who God made you to be (not realizing how wonderful you are in God’s eyes despite your flaws); or you have a desire to show off (seeking praise with a lack of humility); you feel inadequate (low self-esteem, with need for approval); or you wish others to be jealous of you (lack of love for your neighbor, due to low self-esteem). With every substantial sin there are many underlying smaller sins. Once you’re aware of your underlying sins, you can seek help from a qualified priest or Catholic counselor, and/or work with God to eliminate the underlying sins that lead to the bigger sin. It would be helpful to spend some time finding good qualities about yourself and praising God with humble gratitude for them. See God’s Virtues for assistance. Search out your God-given talents and use them to serve Him. Focus on God’s great love for you and how He wants you to live a holy and pure life. Then you may very well be able to avoid the temptation—through the grace of the sacrament of reconciliation—and stop dressing provocatively for attention .
GOD SPEAKS TO THE HONEST, HUMBLE HEART
In asking the question “why” it will get you thinking of ways you can avoid that sin in the future. However, you must be honest with yourself, or your lack of humility will keep you in the dark, blinding you to your sins—you’ll ask yourself “why” but you’ll respond with “I don’t know,” leaving you without the tools you need to stop offending God. If this is the case with you, increase your prayer life, ask God for assistance, and seek help. Let’s say you dress immorally because you want to be seen as sexy and beautiful. Everyone should know that’s a sin (which is venial but still hurts our relationship with God) because we are called to be modest, yet it might also be a mortal sin. If you dress impurely because you want to attract your married neighbor—so that he’ll lust after you with the hopes he’ll leave his wife for you—that would be a mortal sin. It’s your intentions, that “why,” which determines the gravity of your sins.
ALL SINS ARE FORGIVEN – EVEN THE ONES YOU AREN’T AWARE OF
Many times, out of blindness toward our sins, due to our offenses against God, we don’t even realize the mortal sins we’ve committed. Yet, if we approach God with a desire to be forgiven of all our sins—by having a true sorrow for each offense, even for those we aren’t aware of—God will forgive us of all of them through his great faithfulness and mercy. This is the beauty of confession; we leave knowing we’re completely forgiven, as long as we were honest, confessed all the sins we were aware of, and were truly sorry. However, when the enlightenment comes to us about any of our past mortal sins that we were previously unaware of, those sins will need to be humbly confessed during our next confession. Remember, it’s a humble, contrite heart which has a clearer understanding of the reality of their sins. Pray for humility and sorrow.
I Myself am waiting there for you [in confession]. I am only hidden by the priest … I Myself act in your soul
(Jesus – St. Faustina Diary – 1602)
Step 7: Find ways to avoid your sins and grow in joy and perfection
If we truly wish to grow in joy and perfection, this is the path to get us there. After we have written down our sins in detail, including “why” we offended God, we will need to examine the circumstances around each sin and see “what” we need to do to not commit that sin again, make resolutions to change and then implement them into our lives—this is the hard part. Resolutions to change, that are made without the graces needed to follow them through, will result in constant failure. As well as poorly adopted resolutions which need revision to be successful. Yet, with each reconciliation more graces will be given to us to help us and enlighten us. Through every circumstance we are to learn God’s blessed ways and how to abolish our sins. Each act of kindness results in more grace, each prayer delivers more grace, and every time you receive the Eucharist (received outside of mortal sin) it delivers great grace. God showers us with grace at the asking. However, we must be prepared to fail, over and over again, on our journey to perfection. We must be patient with our selves as God is always be patient with us.
If we make a resolution and it doesn’t prevent us from falling into that sin, we mustn’t continue to think we are going to change over and over again if what we are doing isn’t working. For example: If every morning we attempt to wake up early to pray, but we become distracted with work, house chores and eating, sleeping never making the time to pray. Yet, every day, we say we are going to pray, but we try in vain over and over again. If we never make any revisions to our failed routine, we most likely won’t change, and as a result we will fail continuously. We must learn from our errors. God wants to teach us; we need to stop and listen to Him by examining what it is that is truly causing us to become so distracted. Perhaps it is our computer. Once we sit down at the desk, we begin to check the social media and simply become so distracted we run out of time and never pray. Recognize your error and pray for the strength to not even sit at the computer in the morning to avoid the temptation by putting the computer above your relationship with God.
It’s a challenging road, but in His infinite mercy and love, God will direct us to the true joy everyone is looking for, as long as we continue to try to please Him. We don’t need to mention how we will avoid our sins during confession, unless the confessor feels it would be of a benefit to enable him to give us guidance. However, we must not neglect this step—it is the way to holiness.
- Selfish- I will practice stopping what I’m doing and being flexible in my schedule, while serving anyone who asks me (as long as it is something good).
- Lied – I will go to my boss and correct my lie; I will practice perfect honesty, especially in embarrassing situations (humbling ourselves brings on the humility we need to know God) and offer up my cross for my sins and the sins of others, while trusting in Jesus completely to make everything good in the end.
- Impure- I will practice self restraint and not buy or watch anything with any impure content to reduce the temptations and avoid the sin.
- Complained- I will practice silence, and not point out when my wife makes an error, and apologize for my unloving behavior.
- Fought- I will apologize to the person I offended and intentionally clean up others messes and not mention it to anyone for praise or consolation to receive the full reward from Jesus, and try to not look at peoples sins and love the Christ that is in them. I will also apologize to my neighbors son.
- Jealous- I will think of all of the wonderful things my job has brought me and thank my boss of the opportunity to work for his company and God for providing me an income to care for my family.
- Drunk – Since this is an ongoing problem, I will restrain from drinking because I obviously don’t know how to say enough is enough, and not desire to be the center of attention by praying consistently during my socializing for meekness and self control.
- Proud- I will write down the gifts (talents) God has given me and see how God wants me to use them to serve Him, and make plans to implement my talents into charity and service of others.
Step 8: What is God trying to teach me – what are the consequences of my sins
Since God is always teaching us, guiding us to His sacred side in all of life’s circumstances, our sins are great ways to learn and grow in holiness too. Knowing the consequences of our sins helps us to understand the gravity of our sins and the entire body of Christ they affect which gives us an even greater reason to avoid sin. This can be mentioned during confession but isn’t necessary. If you have a confessor who finds it beneficial in guiding you away from your sin to know the consequences of your sins, then, at his approval, mention this during confession too.
- Selfish- My children had a poor example of what a servant of Christ is and an example laziness and serving ones self is what I gave them.
- Lied- I felt guilty for lying and not trusting in God, and I loss grace which could have been gained from caring the cross of humiliation.
- Impure- I committed an abomination against God’s law, who I am to love, and I hurt my wife and our bond of love.
- Complained- I stirred up strife in my heart and brought about dissension between my wife and mother which brought about anxiety instead of gratitude.
- Fought- My neighbor’s son saw me as a Hippocrate and who wants to follow a Hippocrate to Jesus, and I hurt his feelings when I’m called to love.
- Jealous- I created resentment in my heart for my brother and my job which led me to not want to do my best at my work, and I became unhappy due to my lack of gratitude.
- Drunk- I disappointed my wife, who I promised I wouldn’t drink out of control again, then I became bitter towards her when she confronted me due to my shame. I was a poor example of a Christian to my friends and behaved with poor ungodly taste.
- Proud- I felt guilty for being a so insensitive towards others and didn’t win any friends..if anything they had a loss of respect for me.
This isn’t easy, and it takes discipline but so does anything worth working for. One more note…all of these sins we commit, if unatoned for (not made up for or paid the price to God), through God’s justice, will result in our suffering in purgatory which is a place of great anguish that nobody should be hoping for….strive for heaven: eternal bliss with Jesus. A soul forgiven from their sins, who has atoned for all of their wrongdoings on earth, has nothing to fear at death but joyfully awaits for their exile to end and the time to unite with their savior in heaven.
**However, if it’s impossible for a soul to attend confession—not because of embarrassment or any other excuse, but really, truly impossible—and they are dead in their sins (meaning they committed mortal sin), and their soul has perfect contrition (which is very hard to possess and only God’s knows if it is truly present) for their sins because they greatly offended God whom they should love (not just simply sorrow because they don’t want to go to hell or some other selfish motive), then their mortal sin could be forgiven by simply asking God for forgiveness, since God reads the minds and probes the hearts. He will forgive anyone who truly seeks forgiveness, just like Jesus did for the criminal crucified next to Him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). That criminal, who was born dead (with original sin) and has committed many actual sins in his life (deserving of punishment in purgatory), was completely forgiven – like with the waters of baptism (pardoned from the punishment of his sins as well), because of his perfect contrition, due to the desires of his heart. God can do the same for us. If we have already been baptized, then the punishment for our sins will still exist but forgiveness can be given from the perfect sorrow in someone’s heart. Nonetheless, when it does become possible for that soul to attend confession—since God gave the power to forgive sins to the priests (John 20:23), wants us to confess our mortal sins to a priest (1 John 5:16), and to be certain we are forgiven since we don’t know if we have perfect contrition—that soul is obliged to go to the sacrament of reconciliation as soon as possible.
WHAT DEFINES A MORTAL SIN
Below you will find a list of moral sin as listed in the Bible. Many of the sins stated below, need to be of a serious nature to be considered mortal. If you are not sure, ask a trusted priest or consult Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas. For example: someone can have a jealous thought when they see their neighbor get a new phone and even though “jealousy” is listed in the Bible as a deadly sin, that doesn’t mean every jealous/envious thought is a mortal sin. But if someone was so jealous (lacking in love), they went out to buy a better phone than their neighbor, for the sole purpose of desiring to make their neighbor jealous, hoping to bring great despair into his life, since he was already suffering significantly from depression from a lack of feeling successful, then that could be considered a mortal sin (great lack of love with the intention to cause great emotional harm). Grave sins are sins against God, neighbor and self (CCC 1853). But remember only God truly knows all of your mortal sins. Also, beware of sins (mortal or venial) you aren’t sorry for committing. Not hating your sins nor resolving to not sin them again is committing idolatry through those sins since you are in fact love that sin over God’s love which is a great violation against God and His first and greatest commandment–to love the Lord your God with all of your mind, heart and strength.
NOT JUST FOR MORTAL SIN
Some people don’t choose to receive the sacrament of reconciliation unless they think they are in the state of mortal sin. Now this practice, if done properly (if someone can correctly see their sins), is the minimum requirement for salvation. The Church doesn’t recommend it (CCC 1458), and if I were you, I would never want to do the least required for salvation for fear I might fall short and then all eternity could be lost. Plus, the bounds of grace that is lost from choosing not to receive God’s help in the sacrament would surely have a detrimental effect in someone’s life. The increased sins from the lack of grace, would result in a loss of growth in closeness with God, and would surely amount to increased time and punishment in purgatory as a consequence as well as there being an increase risk of committing mortal sin.
When a soul is dead in their sin (unreconclied with God due to mortal sin) they are losing more and more grace everyday they remain out side of God’s friendship, which develops into great blindness. Someone so blind might not even be able to recognize that they have willingly committed mortal sin, since they have hidden their guilt with self justification. They refuse to admit sins they plan and choose to commit are even sins, and hidden in their heart is the desire to sin. However, this state of existence doesn’t remove guilt during judgement.
Therefore, in order for someone to not succumb to this blindness and walk around dead in their sins, they should schedule frequent reconciliation with a daily examination of conscience, if for no other reason than to be sure they don’t perish into eternal suffering due to unrepentant mortal sins which they aren’t aware of.
Of course, if someone is so blinded because of their neglect to properly participate in the sacrament of reconciliation—and their mortal sin is habitual in nature—and if they are still unaware of their condition, they will most likely fall right back into a state of spiritual death (mortal sin) by recommitting that same deadly sin after they leave the confessional. The only way for them to become reconciled with God again is to do an honest, prayerful examination of conscience, praying that God enlightens them to their offenses so they can change.
If someone hasn’t been to confession in a while—or they simply only go to confession out of habit, not out of a desire to change—and they want to be sure they are united with God, they must thoroughly examine their conscience. If they possess characteristics of someone suffering from sin, or their sinful characteristics are growing (meaning anything outside of love such as lust, anger, frustration, annoyance, laziness, selfishness, grumpiness, despair, being short-tempered, etc.) there is a reason. That reason is a lack of grace, as grace brings an attitude of love, selfless giving, kindness, peace, etc. One needs to seek out the underlying cause of such characteristics, as they could very well find them to be due to mortal sin. “Seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7).
They must amend their wrong ways through prayer, making and performing resolutions to change and repent again when they fail to live God’s commands until they grow in their perfection with our Lord. There must be no affection (liking) for their sin. If someone still loves their sin, there can be no change. Once someone detests their mortal sins, then a wonderful life and eternal joy will be theirs. This is a beautiful journey towards sanctity that God will take the soul on who desires to offend God no longer.
Mortal sins as listed in the Bible:
Many of the sins stated below, need to be of a serious nature to be considered mortal.
Mortal Sins, if not forgiven before death, make someone deserving of the punishment of eternal fire and create a life of much suffering, in vain, because someone isn’t united with God after they commit a mortal sin.
These sins must be repented of immediately upon committing them.
Matthew 15:18-20, James 5:4, Revelations 21:8 and 22:15, Ephesians 5:3-7, Colossians 3:5-6, Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6 9-11; Genesis 18:20; Exodus 2:23
Not Loving God with all of your Hears Soul Mind and Strength (the Greatest Commandment)
Idolatry (love/worshiping anything above God–like your sins you are not sorry you commit)
Adultery (sexual contact with a married or divorced person)
Fornication (sexual contact with anyone you are not married to in the Church)
Witchcraft (practice of sorcery)
Hatred (intense dislike)
Emulations (to try to equal or excel above others)
Strife (quarrel or war)
Seditions (breaking the law, rebellion)
Heresies (belief against the Church teachings)
Envying (jealousy – wanting what others have)
Murder (abortion, euthanasia, etc.)
Drunkenness (consuming too much alcohol)
Revelings (wild partying – indulgence)
Effeminate (transgender-drag queen behaviors – males acting like females)
Sodimite (perverted behaviors)
Homosexual (unnatural sexual behaviors with someone of the same sex)
Extortion (illegally obtaining money)
Impurity (behaving or viewing immorally, dressing or behaving ‘sexy’)
Hurting the poor
Defrauding a workman (not paying someone)
Neglect of Sunday obligation (not praising God in Church)
Despair against hope for salvation
Not needing God
Disbelief in God
Pride (lack of humility, inflated ego)
Avarice (love of money, materialism)
Gluttony (too much of anything, food, stuff)
Ingratitude (not thankful)