How much examination of conscience is sufficient for a valid confession?


#1

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?


#2

[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?

[/quote]

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)

  1. 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.


#3

If the two serious sins you confessed were the only serious sins that you committed, then your confession was, indeed, valid.


#4

I’ve gone to confession plenty of times when I didn’t fully examine my conscience. Often when I’ve done this, I’ve added a kind of “disclaimer” at the end such as, “And I know I have more sins than this, but I didn’t properly prepare.” No priest has ever told me that wasn’t okay.


#5

What I quoted was taken out of the same moral theology book seminarians are taught from at the FSSP seminary in Nebraska. Further, I have gone to confession with their moral theology instructor when he was visiting our parish. He made a point to compliment me on my thorough examination of conscience. It is obvious that a good examination of conscience is required, as it is also mentioned in a number of different catechisms.


#6

I should specify that I don’t try to do this. Doing that on purpose would be lazy, and my goal is always to fully examine my conscience. The times I’ve done it this way were because of circumstances. For example, if I was in mortal sin and there was a short window to receive the sacrament. To me, it just seemed silly to avoid receiving the sacrament because I didn’t sit and meditate over every venial sin I could think of. There have been other times when I was not aware beforehand that Confession would be available at a prayer service. Once again, I thought it was better to confess the important sins that I was conscious of, than to not confess at all.


#7

It is not a sin not to do a thorough examination of conscience before going to Confession and therefore has no impact on the priest giving you absolution provided you sincerely confessed all remembered mortal sins you committed.


#8

This is absolutely untrue. Read my initial post, which was copied directly out of the same moral theology book priests are taught out of in seminary.


#9

It is NOT a sin to not do a thorough examination of conscience before going to Confession. Its nonsense to say otherwise.
A person can commit a mortal sin, feel contrite and go immediately to Confession and confess.
While it makes sense to do an examination of conscience it is not mandatory, nor a condition for going to Confession and most definitely is not a sin not to do so.
You are misleading people.
Show us where in Canon law and/or the CCC it says it is a sin. No other book is relevant.


#10

The Church isn’t limited to Canon Law and the CCC for authority on such matters. The Council of Trent stated the following (note the frequent mention of "diligent examination of conscience):

The Council of Trent infallibly taught this doctrine, that the penitent must confess all of his actual mortal sins, including the kind (“species of the sin”) and the number (“each and all”)

Council of Trent: “all mortal sins of which they have knowledge **after a careful self-examination must be enumerated in confession by the penitents**…. While, therefore, the faithful of Christ strive to confess all sins which occur to their memory, they undoubtedly lay all of them before the divine mercy to be forgiven [can. 7]. While those who do otherwise and knowingly conceal certain sins, lay nothing before the divine bounty for forgiveness by the priest: ‘For if one who is ill is ashamed to make known his wound to the physician, the physician does not remedy what he does not know.’ [St. Jerome, In Eccl. comm.. 10, 11] Furthermore … those circumstances must also be explained in confession, which alter the species of the sin [can. 7], because without them the sins themselves are neither honestly revealed by the penitents, nor are they known to the judges, and it would not be possible for them to judge rightly the gravity of the crimes and to impose the punishment which is proper to those penitents.” (Council of Trent, 14th Session, Chapter V, On Confession; Denzinger, 899.)
Council of Trent: “If anyone says that in the sacrament of penance it is not necessary by divine law for the remission of sins to confess each and all mortal sins, of which one has remembrance **after a due and diligent examination******…. let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, 14th Session, On the Most Holy Sacrament of Penance, Canon 7; Denzinger 917.)

The Council of Trent also states:

[quote]after each has examined himself diligently

, and searched all the folds and recesses of his conscience, he confess those sins by which he shall remember that he has mortally offended his Lord and God: whilst the other sins, which do not occur to him after diligent thought, are understood to be included as a whole© in that same confession;

And then there’s the Magisterium:

Can. 988 §1. “A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the person has knowledge** after diligent examination of conscience.”**
“Since ‘the faithful are obliged to confess, according to kind and number, all grave sins committed after Baptism of which they are conscious **after careful examination** and which have not yet been directly remitted by the Church’s power of the keys, nor acknowledged in individual confession (Can. 988, § 1)’, any practice which restricts confession to a generic accusation of sin or of only one or two sins judged to be more important is to be reproved.” (Pope John Paul II, Misericordia Dei, n. 3.)

It’s blatantly obvious that one must make a diligent examination of conscience before Confession unless he has no matter for confession.
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#11

Where in everything you have quoted does it say it is a sin not to do a thorough examination of conscience before going to Confession.
You are simply making up your own interpretation.
That’s as bad as another guy in an older thread that maintained Confession was invalid if the penance was not done.
In both cases it is wrong.
You are misleading people.


#12

The Moral theology book I was originally quoting from has two Nihil Obstates, an Imprimi Potest and an Imprimatur from Francis P. Keough, D.D. who was the Archbishop of Baltimore at the time this edition of the book was printed. The book has been officially declared that it is free of doctrinal and moral error. That’s a little more credibility than "simply making up [my] own interpretation.


#13

That is not relevant to the point. You have failed to come up with anything that states it is a sin not to do a thorough examination of conscience before Confession.
You are inserting your opinion as if it were a fact and it is not.


#14

It concerns me greatly that this thread contains a great deal of acrimonious discord over the quantity of Examen required (and by which standard) without much illumination of the quality of such an examination.

On those occasions when I have confessed my refusal to shelter or serve food to various homeless persons, more than one priest has suggested that I am being scrupulous!

I’m concerned that Matthew 41-45 gives direct evidence from Christ Himself that failure to serve the “least of these” is a matter of extreme moral gravity, and therefore an entirely appropriate matter for both the Examen and any subsequent confession.

How can we argue sensibly about “how much” examination is required if we lack a clear understanding of what is to be included? I know very few Christians who know the least of these well enough to understand the scope of their omissions, sinful or otherwise. Given that this ignorance is neither will-full nor conscious, we need only ask, in light of its terrible persistence: How much examination of conscience is sufficient for a valid confession if no amount of such examination can prepare us to imitate Christ?


#15

You did examine your conscience, just not as you were used to doing. Since you confessed all mortal sins that you were aware of I’m sure your Confession was valid.

While I spend 15-30 minutes formally preparing for confession each week I do think about Confession each day, usually in the evening, and frequently during the morning on the day of the Sacrament so all told I probably spend 2 or more hours a week examining my conscience. You, too, thought about (prepared for) Confession before going, just not in as formal a way as usual. Praise God that you are faithful in taking advantage of this wonderful Sacrament. :thumbsup:


#16

DwightLSmith,

Good point. One of the examins I use is based on the Sermon on the Mount. It is the toughest one I have, the most humbling, because I fall so short in the service of my fellow man. :wink:


#17

#18

[quote="St_Hilary, post:17, topic:301624"]

[/quote]

yES,, YOUR CONFESSION IS VALID. AS LONG as you had the designated intention, this is all that counts. You can also examine your conscience at home and it will take less time whenn you are ii church, so donn't worry,k you had the right intentions

God bless you


#19

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