[quote="EnglishTeacher, post:1, topic:301624"]
Recently, I went to confession without doing a very thorough examination of conscience. Usually I spend a few minutes before confession praying and examining my conscience and reviewing the sins that I plan to confess. But this time, I arrived at the church near the end of the scheduled confession period (my own fault--I put it off until the last minute), so I didn't have the usual time to sit down and examine my conscience. The priest would have left any minute if I hadn't gone in when I did. My main purpose for going was to confess two serious sins, and I did confess those.
Was this a valid confession, since I didn't prepare by examining my conscience, other than the two sins I knew I had to confess?
I can't answer to whether or not your confession was valid, but I can help you out with "how much examination of conscience is sufficient for a valid confession".
From Jone's Moral Theology 8th Printing (1951)
- c) From the fact that confession must be complete it follows that one must use all the corresponding ordinary (not the extraordinary) means to insure its integrity.
a) The principal ordinary means is examination of conscience.
As much care must be given to this examination as is customarily given to matters of importance. It will vary according to the time over which the examen extends, conditions in which the penitent lives, and his intelligence. Confession is invalid if mortal sins are omitted because of gravely sinful negligence in this matter.
If one fails to confess mortal sins by reason of venially sinful negligence the confession remains valid. - He who is morally certain that he has no necessary matter for confession is not at all obliged to make an examination of conscience, although this is advisable to insure genuine contrition and especially and earnest purpose of amendment.
You didn't give much to go off from your post. It comes down to whether or not you missed confessing mortal sins because of any negligence on your end and whether or not it was grave negligence. Though, to be honest, I think you need to put more effort into your E of C.
That said, the E of C is a very important aspect of one's spiritual life. It's recommended to do a daily E of C before one goes to bed at night so they can keep track of their failings and successes each day. This will allow for a shorter E of C prior to going to confession because you'll already know what your sins were from the week. It has even been recommended to examination one's conscience three times a day. Once in the morning from the night previous to help them not to fall into the same sins, and what they need to do to avoid doing so, again around lunch of mid day to check to see how you're doing and and then again at night before going to bed.
It's also recommended that for someone trying to grow in their spiritual life, that they don't make superficial E of C's (ie: I lied, I kicked the dog, I purposely drove my car into my insurance provider's building, etc) that don't get to the root of the problem (ie: the why, and what you need to do to avoid falling again).
The E of C is a time for personal reflection and demands that care be given that it is done well. Not just to ensure your confession is valid, but to help you grow in the spiritual life. It's also good to get in the habit of examining your conscience so in the event you have to make an emergency confession, you can do so quickly, yet still be thorough.
That's just my two cents, though. I can get overly-meticulous with mine, but I've never received any complaints.