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How to… Examine your Conscience

We all need God’s forgiveness but it’s good to know exactly where and how we’ve sinned. The Ignite guide to examining your conscience should help you to consider where you need to grow in your relationship with God

An ‘Examination of Conscience’ may sound pretty fancy but actually is something very simple: asking yourself what sins stand between you and God.

We all sin and make mistakes but also can be comforted by knowing that, because Jesus died for us, we can be forgiven by our Father in Heaven and have new life.

Use questions like these every so often, and especially before Confession, to know what sins you might need to say sorry for and turn away from so that you can follow Jesus, who loves you unconditionally, as best as you can and be happy with Him in Heaven.

Begin by asking the Holy Spirit to help you to know your sins and be truly sorry for them.

Relationship with God

  • Do I pray each day? Is prayer important in my life? Do I ever rush my prayers?
  • Do I go to Mass at least every Sunday? Do I freely choose to go to Mass or do I make a fuss about having to go? Do I deliberately distract myself at Mass?
  • Is God my first priority? Do I love him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, like Jesus taught us to?
  • Have I taken my Catholic faith seriously by trying to grow in it, for example by reading the Bible or finding out more about what we believe?

Relationship with others

  • Do I treat others as I would like to be treated?
  • Do I treat members of my family with a particular respect and love?
  • Am I selfish or unkind? Have I tried to be generous with others, putting their needs before mine?
  • Do I fight with others? Or argue unnecessarily?
  • Do I allow myself to lose my temper with others?
  • Do I deliberately tell lies? Have I deliberately betrayed other people’s trust? Have I always been honest in my previous Confessions?
  • Do I misuse the gift of my body by sexual activity outside marriage, on my own or with others? Am I careful about what I read, watch and listen to, especially on the internet?
  • Do I share my faith with others, trying to lead them closer to Jesus Christ? Or do I hide my faith?
  • Am I jealous? Of what others have or their good qualities?
  • Have I stolen anything or taken it without permission?
  • Have I been violent towards others or their property?
  • Have I treated myself with the respect I deserve as a precious child of God?

Have I loved God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and have I loved my neighbour as myself?

Conclude by thanking God for the good things you have done and for what he has done for you.

Then make an ‘Act of Contrition’ which means saying sorry to God, promising to do better in future and trying to avoid the things that lead you to sin:


Oh my God, I am truly sorry for all my sins, because you are so good and worthy of all my love and praise and I firmly resolve by the help of your grace to sin no more.


Oh my God, I am sorry and beg pardon for all my sins and detest them above all things, because they deserve your dreadful punishments, because they have crucified my loving Saviour Jesus Christ and, most of all, because they offend your infinite goodness. And I firmly resolve, by the help of your grace, never to offend you again and carefully to avoid the occasions of sin.