Fr. Corapi on reconciliation
A Short Note on Reconciliation
An excerpt from Father Corapi's latest book, Letters

One of the most important things we can do as individuals seeking to love God above all things, and love our neighbor as ourselves out of love for God is to make a daily examination of conscience and then take advantage of one of the greatest gifts God has given us -- the ability to receive sanctifying grace in a healing and forgiving way through the sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation (Confession). Repentance is not a one time thing. It is a daily requirement and an ongoing act of love of God and neighbor.

"If you love me you will obey my Commandments," Jesus tells us. If we stumble along the way and fail to obey His Commandments it is very encouraging to have the assurance that His forgiveness is waiting for us. We must seek it actively, however, especially when we are conscious of mortal sin. We, as Catholics, do this by going to Confession. When we make a daily examination of conscience, and then go to Confession regularly, we are showing our merciful and loving God that we are serious about our relationship with Him.

God bless you,

Fr. John Corapi

Here is the longer article...

Examination of Conscience (Making a Good Confession)

By Rev. John Corapi, SOLT, STD

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“Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment…..For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God….His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1776).

Most Catholics understand that it is necessary to make a good examination of conscience before they receive the sacrament of Penance. If you don’t examine your conscience properly you obviously can’t make a good confession. Today in the world of noise, both interior as well as exterior, this needs to be stressed very emphatically. Often the voice of conscience, which is very akin to the very voice of God, comes as a still tiny whisper, not a loud and obvious sound. In order to hear such a whisper we need to preserve a certain holy silence at times.

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us in paragraph 1779, “It is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of conscience. This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from any reflection, self-examination, or introspection: Return to your conscience, question it….Turn inward, brethren, and in everything you do, see God as your witness. (St. Augustine).”

I am convinced that the world of constant noise is a major contributing factor to the tidal wave of sin we have experienced in recent generations. If the voice of conscience is drowned out by a million loud and distracting sounds and concerns, then sin is facilitated. This noise is not merely external sounds: radio, television, I Pods, talk, talk, talk, etc., but also the interior “noise” that most contemporary people suffer from. “Be still and know that I am God,” is something we would do well to remember.

Most individuals in the Western world simply aren’t in touch with themselves. What I am suggesting is that each of us performs a daily examination of conscience, not just before going to Confession. Sin is a daily occurrence for most of us, if not sins of commission, then sins of omission. We need to be in touch with how we are living in order to improve our spiritual life and make progress in holiness, which, by the way, is the real meaning of human existence. Unfortunately, most people don’t really care to strive for holiness. They are oblivious of the absolute moral mandate given us by Jesus Christ; “You must be holy (perfect) as your heavenly Father is holy (perfect).”

This is not a novel idea. The Church has encouraged its children to make an examination of conscience (also called “examen”) since the earliest times. Monks, nuns, priests, and lay faithful alike have done so for centuries.

Set aside a time for prayer every day without exception. As part of this prayer time make a good examination of conscience using the Ten Commandments as your guide. This daily practice will help you immensely to make daily progress in your spiritual life. Our nation, and much of the world, has lost its collective conscience. This is because individuals are not in touch with their conscience—or have numbed it or even murdered it by repeated sin, failing or refusing to listen to the voice of conscience.

As the Catechism teaches in #1454, “The reception of this sacrament [Penance or Reconciliation] ought to be prepared for by an examination of conscience made in the light of the Word of God. The passages bests suited to this can be found in the Ten Commandments, the moral catechesis of the Gospels and the apostolic Letters, such as the Sermon on the Mount and the apostolic teachings.”

Pope John Paul II taught convincingly in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on Reconciliation and Penance that all of the divisions we see tearing the world apart—the divisions among nations, the divisions within individual nations, the divisions in cities, and the divisions in families can all be traced back to a single root and cause: that division within individual human beings, and that division is called sin.

There will be no peace in the world, no healing of the political divisions in this nation or any other until individuals find healing within themselves. That healing comes from God and the first step toward that healing is the humility to recognize sin and to ask forgiveness for it. This surely takes place in the great sacrament of Reconciliation, but it should be a daily quest on our part. I am strongly recommending that each of us do a daily examination of conscience as an essential element of our prayer life. Toward that end I am offering you this little examination of conscience to get you started.


As #2055 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: “When someone asks Him, ‘Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?’ Jesus replies ‘You shall love the Lord your God will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets” (Mt 22:37-40; cf Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18).

The Ten Commandments can be placed in two major categories: The first three that concern our direct relationship with God (the vertical dimension), and the seventh through tenth Commandments that concern our relationship with our neighbor, with other persons or, indeed, all of creation (the horizontal dimension). Note that when you are living the Commandments—both the vertical dimension (first three Commandments) that must be in place first—and the horizontal dimension (Commandments 4-10) what you have is a cross. It is not possible to live as God wills us to do without a cross. This is the reality of sacrificial love in the life of a person following God’s will. No pain, no gain. No cross, no crown.


NOTE: I strongly suggest that you read the sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church concerning each of the Ten Commandments periodically to strengthen your understanding of what God requires of us.

(The First Table of the Decalogue)

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

I. I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange gods before me.

NOTE: If we get this one right we probably won’t need to go further. In this first Commandment we can incorporate loving God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength.

(See paragraphs 2083-2141 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Do I put created things before the Creator? Do I have what amount to false gods in the form of money, prestige, power, drugs, alcohol, sex, or anything else in the realm of created things? God comes first. If we serve Him wholeheartedly all other things will fall into place. If you dedicate all of your time, energy, and thought to these created things, rather than giving God first place as He deserves, perhaps your priorities are disordered.

Some sins against the First Commandment would be those against the theological virtue of faith such as voluntary doubts against the faith, incredulity (the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it.), heresy, apostasy, and schism.

Sins against hope such as presumption and despair (which are also sins against the Holy Spirit).

Sins against God’s love or charity would include indifference, ingratitude, luke-warmness, spiritual sloth, or hatred of God.

The First Commandment requires us to adore God, to pray, to offer sacrifice and do penance for sin.

Sins against vows (marriage, religious vows, priestly vows, etc.) would also be under the First Commandment.

Sins of superstition, idol worship, divination, magic, witchcraft, Santa Ria, Voodoo, attending séances, playing with the occult in any form, sorcery, etc. would all be sins against the First Commandment.

Irreligion, sacrilege, profanation, willful atheism or agnosticism when the person has had a chance to know God, but rejects him would also be sins against the First Commandment.

II. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in Vain.

(See Catechism of the Catholic Church #2142-2167)

Do I use God’s holy name in vain? The name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Jesus, etc. is holy. The Second Commandment forbids every improper use of God’s name. Blasphemy uses the name of God, of Jesus Christ, of the Virgin Mary, and the angels and saints in an offensive way.

Have I given false oaths or promises using God’s name? Perjury is a grave offense against the Lord who is always faithful to his promises. Have I given false testimony or perjured myself?

III. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.

(See Catechism of the Catholic Church #2168-2195)

Sunday is the fulfillment of the Sabbath. The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist is the very heart of our faith. It is a matter of precept and required of Catholics to attend Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation if they do not have a serious reason. Serious reasons would be inability due to advance age, illness, need to take care of a sick child, necessity to work such as nurses taking care of the sick, doctors, etc. In some cases individuals have to work or lose their job. The exception must be serious and cannot be allowed to become a habit.

To miss Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation without a sufficiently serious reason constitutes grave matter and may be a mortal sin if there is knowledge, full consent of the will, and no mitigating circumstances. (See # 2181 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

Have I missed Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation? Have I done unnecessary servile labor that interferes with giving God the worship He is due on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation? Have I dedicated myself to family and works of charity on these days?


(The Second Table of the Decalogue)


IV. Honor your father an your mother.

(See Catechism of the Catholic Church #2196-2257)

Have I honored my parents? Have I been respectful to them? Have I lost patience with them? As a parent have I cared for my children as God would will? Have I provided my children with a proper education, especially in the faith? Have I safeguarded their education from evil influences by being actively involved in it?

As a citizen have I acted in accordance with God’s will? Do I defend life? Fight against the evils of abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human cloning, etc.? Do I vote, pay taxes, and do my part to defend my country when called upon to do so?

NOTE: We are obliged to obey legitimate Church and civil authority. However, if the secular government promotes “laws” that are against the natural law and God’s law we are obliged in conscience to resist these and fight against them to the extent possible.

V. You shall not kill.

(See Catechism of the Catholic Church #2258-2330)

#2258 “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”

Have I committed murder, contributed directly to abortion, euthanasia, suicide of another, or have I contributed materially to any of these through neglect, advice, confirming another in such sins, or voting for anyone that furthers the ends of such sins?

Have I caused scandal in any way? Have I failed to take care of my health by eating or drinking in a way that could harm me physically or emotionally? Have I abused drugs, alcohol, or any other potentially harmful substance? Am I seriously overweight due to my own fault? Do I fail to seek medical help when necessary and take medications when prescribed by competent medical professionals?

VI. You shall not commit adultery.

(See Catechism of the Catholic Church #2331-2400)

It is impossible to be truly happy without living chastity in accordance with our state in life. That is an assertion of the Church that is unquestionably true.

Have I been guilty of lust (Sexual pleasure sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.)? NOTE: The use of the sexual faculty is reserved only for those who are married—defined as between one man and one woman.

Have I been guilty of masturbation, fornication, homosexual sex? Have I looked at pornography in any form? Have I engaged in or paid for prostitution?

Have I been faithful to my spouse, not committing adultery?

Have I given in to impure thoughts?

Have I used methods of artificial contraception, birth control pills, etc.?

VII. You shall not steal.

(See Catechism of the Catholic Church #2401-2463)

The seventh commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the property of one’s neighbor and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods or property.

Have I stolen anything? Have I cheated my employer from the labor he is due? Have I cheated my employees of the just wage they are due? Have I breached contracts, defrauded anyone, or failed to pay debts I owe? Have I made reparation for any such thefts, breaches, frauds, or debts?

Have I been guilty of air, water, or other pollution of the environment, including improperly disposing of things such as batteries, which contain toxic substances?

Have I been kind to animals?

Have I been kind and charitable to the poor? Have I practiced the corporal and spiritual works of mercy? (Sins can also be of omission. Chronic lack of concern of the poor, homeless, sick, hungry, etc. can be a serious sin. Jesus linked such sins to eternal damnation.)

VIII. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

(See Catechism of the Catholic Church #2464-2513)

As #2464 of the Catechism teaches, “The eighth commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others….”

Have I lied? (The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms) Have I misrepresented the truth or deceived others? Have I given false witness or perjured myself? Have I respected the reputation of others, not engaging in gossip, rash judgment, calumny, or detraction? (Detraction is disclosing the faults and sins of another to persons who did not know them without an objectively serious and valid reason.)

Have I confirmed a person in bad conduct or immoral behavior by flattery, adulation, or complaisance? If I have offended truth and justice in any of these previous ways have I made reparation for same, such as repairing someone’s reputation that was damaged?

IX. You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse.

(See Catechism of the Catholic Church #2514-2533)

The ninth commandment concerns purity, both in thought and in action. As #2520 of the Catechism teaches, “Baptism confers on its recipient the grace of purification from all sins, but the baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence of the flesh and disordered desires. “

Have I thought lustfully of others’ spouses? Have I been pure in my intentions, in my thoughts, and in my actions? Have I been modest in my speech, in my dress, and in my actions? Have I done anything to make the moral environment around me (home, workplace, etc.) less wholesome and pure? Have I told off-color jokes or sexually suggestive stories, etc.?

X. You shall not covet your neighbor’s property.

(See Catechism of the Catholic Church #2534-2557)

Have I coveted the possessions of others? Have I been envious of others’ property or success? Have I been overly concerned with accumulating money, possessions, or other created things? Have I been sufficiently concerned with spiritual things, of seeing God, and attaining my eternal salvation?

Do I long for Heaven?


Once again, I strongly recommend that each person make a careful study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in order to have the kind of moral formation that will help them to know how to live in accordance with God’s will. This is a long-term project, one that should be ongoing in the course of one’s life.

In addition, one should then make a daily short examination of conscience based on the Ten Commandments as the Catholic Church expounds on them and teaches them fully.

Finally, each person should seek to go to Confession, the great sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation, frequently. Before approaching the sacrament of Reconciliation a good examination of conscience should be made. This will be a much easier and more effective exercise when it has been done previously on a daily basis.

Each sacrament channels sanctifying grace in a unique way. The sacrament of Penance channels that share of divine life (sanctifying grace) in a forgiving and healing way. The integrity of the human person is made whole again and that healing that tends toward peace is facilitated, and that peace surpasses all understanding.

In the end, having lived well in striving for holiness, we shall die well, and ultimately enjoy that eternal beatitude that “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have our wildest dreams imagined, what God has in store for those who love him.”


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