What is a good attempt at an examination of conscience?

I know that it’s ok to forget sins in confession, as long as you made a sincere effort to examine your conscience thoroughly.
The thing is, what does it mean to make a sincere effort examine your conscience thoroughly? Usually, I try to come up with a list the day before (most of the time I fail, though). I typically have a lot of thinking to do, because I never really know how to classify a sin. Sometimes I’ll review my list while in line for confession, and suddenly decide to reclassify this or that sin, and then I wonder if I didn’t think hard enough about it in the first place. I also seem to have a terrible memory, and even when I spend hours trying to recall the last few weeks, I always seem to remember tons of sins after I exit the confessional. And then I start wondering if I made a sincere effort, after all.
How long does it take you to examine your conscience? How do you know if you’ve made a sincere effort? When I feel like my list is sparce, I can never quite tell if I’ve had a good week for virtue, or if I’m just not trying hard enough.

Well one idea is to go through the Ten Commandments and see if you’ve broken any of them, though you should bear in mind that they all seem to have multiple attached meanings. For instance the 5th commandment, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ might also apply if you harm your body through overeating. That sort of thing. Here’s a handy site to help with examinations of conscience:

It’s a good idea to reflect and self analys as to what you think not just why you think

Since it is Lent, it might be a good time to look at your “attitude” about the sins. Meaning, “do I sorrow over this sin / these sins”. Are they a cause of sorrow for you? Maybe daily (as the Jesuits would encourage) consider what you have done that day and is there any twinge (or stronger) that you have alienated yourself from God in order to do that thing. Keep a little list daily to gather together until the time of confession (either a regular scheduled time for you or a special time when you know the sorrow of having gravely offended your friendship with God.

Trekker’s suggestion to use the ten commandments is a good starting point, such as "did I do anything to hurt or harm anyone today by my words (hurt their feelings or reputations), thoughts (reduce my own value of them), or my deeds (actually hurt them physically).- 5th commandment. Then consider whether there is sorrow in you for this.

All good advice above. I know there are varying opinions about writing things down but I have found that Confession-A Roman Catholic App on my phone has helped. I can open it up and check things off daily or as I think of them then I don’t forget. I look thru the list before my Confession. It is based on the 10 commandments. I’m not sure what you mean by classifying your sins? I hope this helps, be at peace. God knows how hard you are trying.





I sometimes remember sins after confession too. Try not to let satan trouble you in thinking you did not make a good confession. Our Lord knows how well you tried.

As a lenten tool, and hopefully a continuing thing to do, I will be making a journal at days end. A brief prayer, thanks for all that happened, and review of how I could have done better. Not a lengthy writing, but enough to help me, pray, and praise God at days end.

Perhaps something such as this may help both of us at the confessional next time.
Just a thought.

I feel pretty sure I am in good shape as far as the last decade or so but I have been spending a lot of time trying to remember past sins that I may not have confessed. More specifically, since my baptism in 1970. My learning curve has been a REAL journey. There is a lot of water that has past under the bridge. I am constantly amazed at how much I don’t know about my faith, so I find myself looking back and wondering; did I confess this or that; have I properly done my penances?

Headed to confession in about 30 minutes so I’ll ask again…

I like to use the iConfess app on my mobile phone ahead of time before going to Confession. The app will take your gender, vocation, age and last time of confession to come up with things for you to think about, then you go through the Commandment list and select what applies to you. No priest has had a problem with me using it and I’ve used it at a face to face and also with the screen between me & the priest.

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