The sacrament of reconciliation

one of the greatest treasures of our Catholic faith – Confession

Reconciliation times:

Wednesday evenings
(except holidays or Holy Days)
7:00 p.m. in the Chapel

Saturday afternoons
(except holidays or Holy Days)
3:30-4:30 p.m. in the Chapel

reconciliation

the examination of conscience

Conscience is moral judgment, the ability to distinguish between right from wrong. A Catholic Christian’s conscience is formed by Jesus and his gospel and the Church and its teachings. Sin is a departure from what Jesus taught, particularly the Law of Love and the virtues. Anything contrary to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Gal 5:22-23) is a sin.

It is a worthy goal for every Catholic Christian to be in the state of grace, washed clean of previous evildoing, and forgiven of one’s sins. Reconciliation is the sacramental way to receive God’s forgiveness, and an Examination of Conscience is the proper way to prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Our conscience should be offended by sin, and the result ought to be guilt. Some people speak disparagingly of “Catholic guilt.” This is unfortunate. Guilt is not a curse, it is a blessing.  Guilt means that a person knows the difference between right and wrong, and feels badly after doing something wrong. To not feel guilt after doing something wrong is “out of line,” to be a sociopath, someone who is so hardened to sin that an evil deed does not create inner turmoil. This is the essence of the criminal mind.

Good Christians are highly offended by their own sins, and work vigorously to eliminate all wrongful actions in their lives. One of the best ways to monitor sin is with a daily Examination of Conscience:

  • Every evening sometime before bedtime, the person does an honest and humble review of the day to check for sins.
  • The person first asks for the help of the Holy Spirit, and then conducts a careful review of the day, from morning to night, to go over one’s thoughts and deeds.
  • Then the person tries, to the best of their ability, to name every sin, ask God for mercy and pardon, and promise to do better tomorrow.
  • Then the person goes to sleep.

Ideally, the Examination of Conscience before the Sacrament of Reconciliation is built upon many previous exams that were conducted on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, this usually is not the case for most of us. Instead, we often fail to conduct a daily check for our sins, and we are not fully aware or remorseful for all the bad that we have done. Nevertheless, before approaching the Sacrament of Reconciliation, it is our spiritual duty to do a sweeping check for all past sins, not simply over the past day, but over the entire time since our last confession, and to take special note of all serious or mortal sins. Then, with our sins in mind, with great faith, to approach the priest-confessor, admit our sins, and joyfully receive absolution.

Examinations of Conscience

A Reflection Drawn from 1 Cor 13:4-6

“Love is PATIENT (1 Cor 13:4).
Am I impatient?
Am I brusque?  Irritable?  Pushy?
Have I been edgy or abrupt?
Do I rush too much myself?
Do I drive too fast?
Do I have a habit of trying to get other people to speed up?
Have I been crabby when I have had to wait?

“Love is KIND (1 Cor 13:4).
Have I been harsh, critical, or cruel?
Have I been mean-spirited?
Have I acted with bitterness or resentment?
Have I cut other people down?  Have I been uncharitable?

“Love is NOT JEALOUS (1 Cor 13:4).
Am I envious of someone else’s good looks?
Do I find myself wishing I had someone else’s intelligence?
Am I jealous of somebody’s popularity?  Their abilities?  Their success?
Do I covet another person’s job?  Their money?  Their clothes?
Am I upset because everyone else gets all the breaks?

“Love is NOT POMPOUS (1 Cor 13:4).
Do I strut around, thinking that I’m better than everyone else?
Have I been arrogant?  Egotistical?  Conceited?
Do I think I’m a star and everyone else is a loser?
Do I think that I’m special?
Do I think I deserve special treatment?
Do I believe that most others are “below me?”

“Love is NOT INFLATED (1 Cor 13:4).
Am I proud?  Vain?  Self-centered?
Do I act “stuck up” sometimes?
Have I been a “show off?”
Do I think and act like I am better than I really am?

“Love is NEVER RUDE (1 Cor 13:5).
Have I been impolite?  Boorish?
Do I interrupt?  Speak out of turn?
Do I dominate the conversation?  Talk too loud?
Have my table manners been lacking?
When I disapprove, do I roll my eyes?  Toss my head back?  Grunt or groan?

“Love does not SEEK ITS OWN INTERESTS (1 Cor 13:5).
Do I always have to have things my way?
Have I been uncooperative?  Inconsiderate?  Inflexible?  Uncompromising?
Have I ignored someone else’s feelings?
Have I paid attention only to my own needs, while being inattentive to others?

“Love is NOT QUICK-TEMPERED (1 Cor 13:5).
Do I fly off the handle easily?
Have I lost my temper?
Do I raise my voice with stinging criticism and sarcasm?
Have I taken things too personally?  Have I overreacted?
Do I make issues bigger than they really are?

“Love does NOT BROOD OVER INJURY (1 Cor 13:5).
Am I harboring a resentment?
Have I been spending time mulling over how I have been mistreated?
Have I brought up an old injury over and over again?
Am I still punishing someone for the way the person hurt me long ago?

“Love rejoices in the TRUTH (1 Cor 13:6).
Do I tell lies?
Have I twisted the facts to discredit someone?  Make someone look bad?
Have I made up stories to get out of trouble with my parents?  My spouse?
Do I cheat on tests or homework?  Do I falsify tax records?
Do I exaggerate so I will look better in other peoples’ estimation?

Passage One:
“Happy are those whose consciences do no reproach them” (Sir 14:12).

Reflection Questions:
Have I blinded myself to my own sinfulness?
Do I blame others for my shortcomings?
Have I rationalized myself out of responsibility for my actions?
Where do I get my values? from TV? the newspaper? the lounge at work?
OR from Scripture? from the Church?

Passage Two:
“You shall love the Lord, your God, will all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind” (Dt 6:5; Mt 22:37; Mk 12:30; Lk 10:27).

Reflection Questions:
Is God at the center of my life?
Do I spend some time in prayer every day?
Do I love God more than my career? my investments? my possessions? my reputation?

Passage Three:
“Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous. It is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interest, it is not quick tempered” (1 Cor 13:4-6).

Reflections Questions:
Am I unfriendly? Am I cliquish?
Does my demeanor scare people away?
Am I insensitive to other’s feelings?
Do I make caustic remarks?
Do I fly off the handle quickly when people irritate me?
Have I persisted with a behavior that I know is irksome to others?
Am I manipulative? Do things always have to go my way?
Do I resent it when others are successful?

Passage Four:
“Peter asked Jesus, ‘If someone wrongs me, how many times must I forgive them? Seven times?’ Jesus replied, ‘No, not seven times, but seventy-seven times’” (Mt 18:21-22).

Reflection Questions:
Do I hang on to old grudges?
Do I keep bringing up the past against someone?
Am I still trying to get even about something?
Do I keep telling others stories about how someone hurt me?
Am I denying someone a second chance?

Passage Five:
“Honor your father and your mother” (Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16).

Reflection Questions for Young People:
Do I respect and obey my parents?
Do I tell the truth?
Am I responsible with my household chores?
Am I using my abilities well in school?
Do I hang around with kids who have a bad influence on me
Reflection Questions for Adult Children:
Do I visit or care for my elderly parents?
Can I forgive my parents for mistakes they made in raising me?

Passage Six:
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for them if a great millstone were hung around their neck and they were cast into the sea” (Mt 18:6; Mk 9:42; Lk 17:2).

Reflection Questions:
Do I take the time to teach my children right from wrong?
Do I give my children a good example?
Do I offer my children loving discipline?
Am I patient with my children?
Do I spend the right amount of time with my youngsters?
Do I ignore important issues that need to be addressed?
Can my children tell that I love them?

Passage Seven:
“Go not after your lusts, but keep your desires in check” (Sir 18:30).

Reflection Questions:
Do I eat too much? Do I drink too much?
Do I gamble in a way that endangers myself or my family?
Do I view pornography, obscene movies, or indecent television programs?
Do I desire inappropriate sexual activities?
Have I engaged in improper sexual activities?
Am I preoccupied with my physical appearance?
Am I addicted to shopping? Am I obsessed with collecting things?

Passage Eight:
“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who are truthful are God’s delight” (Prov 12:22).

Reflection Questions:
Do I tell half-truths? Do I distort the facts?
Do I slant things in my favor? Do I spread false rumors?
Have I failed to keep my side of an agreement?
Have I cheated on a test or some assignment?
Have I falsified my taxes or an expense account?

Passage Nine:
“Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger (Jn 6:35); whoever eats this bread will live forever’ (Jn 6:51).”

Reflection Questions:
Do I attend Mass every Sunday?
Do I receive the Eucharist regularly?
Do I treasure Communion as a great gift from God?
Am I becoming what I receive? Am I becoming Christ for others?

Passage Ten:
“All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).

Reflection Questions:
Is the Bible important to me? Do I read the Bible?
Do I listen attentively to the readings when they are proclaimed at Mass?
Do I pay attention to the homilies?
Do I love God’s Word and let it transform me?

A Reflection Drawn from Lk 7:36-50

Observation One:
Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus to his home, not out of genuine respect, but to have a big-name guest at his house, to show off, so he might look better in other peoples’ eyes.

Reflection Questions:
Do I invite people to my house under false pretenses?
Do I associate with big-name people, not because I like them or respect them, but to make a bigger name for myself?
Do I name-drop important or popular people whom I’ve met or know just so people will think more of me?
Do I snub ordinary folks?
Do I avoid the unpopular, the socially awkward, or the troubled so I won’t look bad?

Observation Two:
Simon the Pharisee looked down on the sinful woman.
He thought that she was “The Sinner,” and that he was much better than her.

Reflection Questions:
Am I arrogant? Snooty? Stuck up?
Am I aloof? Conceited?
Do I think that I’m better than other people?
Am I harsh and judgmental?
Do I fail to give the benefit of the doubt?
Do I do a lot of finger-pointing?
Do I have contempt for someone?
Am I glad to point out the faults of others while I think I’m almost perfect?
Do I want others to be punished severely while I want leniency for myself?

Observation Three:
Simon the Pharisee was blind to his own sin.

Reflection Questions:
Am I so proud that I cannot admit my own shortcomings?
Have I deluded myself into thinking that my own wrongdoing is not so bad?
Do I have a false or exaggerated sense of my own personal holiness, thinking that I’m a whole lot better than I really am?

Observation Four:
Simon the Pharisee neglected the rules of hospitality and ignored Jesus.

Reflection Questions:
Am I preoccupied with myself and my own needs and wants?
Do I think that my preferences outrank the preferences of other people?
Do I fail to pay sufficient attention to those around me?
Do I fail to extend basic niceties like a smile or warm greeting to other people?
Do I go out of my way to offer beverages and snacks?
Am I impolite or rude to my guests? Am I “snippy” in conversation?

Observation Five:
Simon the Pharisee avoided the sinful woman to prevent getting unclean.

Reflection Questions:
Do I avoid people with problems?
Do I try to push “dirty people” away from me?
Am I apathetic about the plight of those facing hardship?
Am I worried that associating with someone perceived to be “lower” will somehow tarnish my reputation?

Observation Six:
Simon the Pharisee loved little.

Reflection Questions:
Do I want people to serve me while I do little or nothing to serve them?
Am I selfish with my money and possessions?
Do I keep what I have for myself rather than gladly share with others?
Am I impatient? Unkind?
Do I hold grudges? Do I try to get even?
Do I lie or cheat?
Am I quick-tempered?
Do I say mean or hurtful things?

Observations Seven:
Simon the Pharisee listened to Jesus’ words, but he did not take them to heart.

Reflection Questions:
Do I listen attentively to the Scripture texts when they are proclaimed?
Do I set aside time to read the Bible and reflect upon it on a regular basis?
Do I implement Jesus’ gospel in my day-to-day affairs?

Observation Eight.
Simon the Pharisee placed no faith in Jesus.

Reflection Questions:
Is my faith in Jesus weak?
When I’m in trouble, do I fail to turn to Jesus in prayer?
When I’ve sinned, do I make light of the need for Reconciliation?
Do I doubt that Jesus has the authority to forgive sins?
Do I feel that his forgiveness is really not all that important?

A Reflection Drawn from Lk 13:10-17

Observation One:
The woman went to the synagogue to keep holy the Sabbath day (Lk 13:11).

Reflection Questions:
Have I failed to keep holy the Sabbath by failing to go to Mass one or more weekends?
Have I excused myself too lightly from attending Mass because of a minor ailment, or feeling down in the dumps, or feeling too tired?
Have I wrongly excused myself from attending Mass because of a job conflict, or a sporting event, or vacation?
Have I let some of my old sins prevent me from coming to church when church is what I really needed?

Observation Two:
The woman was crippled, but she went to the synagogue to praise God anyway (Lk 13:11).

Reflection Questions:
Have I pouted or felt sorry for myself because of an illness or disability?
Have I been crabby or mean to others because of sickness or frustration?
When I have had to deal with suffering or misfortune, have I blamed God or complained to God rather than praise the Lord for the blessings I do enjoy?

Observation Three:
Jesus taught in the synagogue (Lk 13:10).

Reflection Questions:
Have I failed to pay attention to Jesus’ teaching by rarely or never opening up my Bible and reading from his gospels?
Have I failed to listen to Jesus teaching by daydreaming during the proclamation of the Scriptures, particularly the gospel reading, at Mass?
Have I failed to pay careful attention to the explanation of Jesus’ teaching in the homily?
Have I dismissed or ignored an important teaching of Jesus in my life?

Observation Four:
The woman was crippled by an eighteen year-old sin (Lk 13:11).

Reflection Questions:
Is there an old sin that I committed months, or years, or decades ago that I have never dealt with that is crippling me?
What is the most shameful thing I did during my early childhood years?
What is the most regrettable, humiliating sin of my adolescent years?
What is my most embarrassing misdeed of my young adult years?
Where did I let Satan take the strongest hold during my midlife period?
What has me most shamefaced these days?

Observation Five:
The crippled woman was debilitated by one or more very serious sins that had been committed a long while ago (Lk 13:11).

As I take a long look back over the entirety of my life, what are the old sins that haunt me, that I have never put to rest, that weigh me down, that I have never reconciled?

Reflection Questions:
What was the most disrespectful thing I ever did to my parents?
What was the one dreadful thing I did to damage the harmony in my family?
What was the horrendous thing I did to violate another person’s trust in me?
What is the most appalling thing I have ever done to inflict bodily harm on another person?
What was the most abusive thing that I’ve done to another person?
What is the worst sexual impropriety I committed?
What has been the most harmful act of infidelity that I have committed against my spouse?
What has been the worst lie that I have told?
What is the most deceitful thing I have done?
What evil thing is lurking in my past that I have never come to terms with, that I have never brought to the Lord for forgiveness?

Observation Six:
Even while Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, he noticed the crippled woman (Lk 13:12).

Reflection Questions:
Have I been so busy and preoccupied with my own tasks, that I have failed to notice a hurting person who really needs my help?
If I have noticed someone in need, have I refused to be interrupted, continuing with my own work, and insensitively made the other person wait?
Do I see other people’s problems as a burden on me rather than an opportunity to be a generous and cheerful agent of God’s love?

Observation Seven:
Jesus was offended by the woman’s old sins, but no matter how hurt, upset, or wounded he may have been with her, he said, “you are set free of your infirmity” (Lk 13:12); I forgive you! If Jesus can forgive, so can we.

Reflection Questions:
Is there someone who hurt me a long time ago whom I have failed to forgive?
Am I still punishing someone who mistreated me a long time ago?
Am I setting up obstacles to prevent their success? Making mean comments?
Am I using the silent treatment to retaliate against someone who let me down?
Am I running a smear campaign of lies and half truths against the character of a person who caused me terrible pain a long while ago?
Do I have a fierce dislike for someone who has caused me great harm, and spend time and energy thinking how I might get revenge, strike back, or get even?

Observation Eight:
Jesus reached out, touched the bent-over woman, and cured her (Lk 13:12-13).

Reflection Questions:
Have I distanced myself from Jesus so it is difficult for him to touch me?
Do I doubt that Jesus has the power to forgive me, no matter how bad my past sins may be?
Do I refuse to let go of past failures and fail to move on?

Observation Nine:
The woman stood straight up and glorified God (Lk 13:13).

Reflection Questions:
Have I taken Jesus’ gift of mercy and forgiveness for granted?
Have I failed to recognize the enormous price that Jesus paid to forgive my sins by giving his life on the Cross?
Have I failed to praise and thank God for the awesome gift of forgiveness?
Do I have a gloomy outlook, and fail to be happy, bright, and cheerful?

A Reflection Drawn from Lk 15:11-32

Reflection Based Upon the Younger Son’s Sins.
Have I made an inappropriate request for something that I am not entitled to? (Lk 15:12).

Have I placed a parent or someone else in an unfair position? (Lk 15:12).

Am I selfishly preoccupied with myself, while I disregard other family members? (Lk 15:12).

If I have received a generous gift, have I failed to say “Thank you”? (Lk 15:12-13).

Have I kept what I have to myself without sharing? (Lk 15:12-13).

Have I distanced myself from my family, or abandoned them altogether? (Lk 15:13).

Have I wrongfully mocked or belittled my family’s decent way of doing things? (Lk 15:13).

Have I neglected important family obligations? (Lk 15:13).

Have I spent an excessive amount of money on things that are bad for me? (Lk 15:14).

Have I set aside important matters of the faith that my parents tried to instill in me? (Lk 15:15).

Have I associated with people who have a bad influence on me? (Lk 15:15).

Have I taken a job that is incompatible with the gospel or sound morals? (Lk 15:15).

Does the work I do offend the sensibilities of decent folk? (Lk 15:15).

Is my sorrow for my sin insincere? (Lk 15:17-19).

When I ask for forgiveness, do I demand it on my own terms? (Lk 15:19).

Do I try to earn God’s love by what I do rather than receive it as a gracious gift? (Lk 15:19).

Reflection Based Upon the Older Son’s Sins.
Have I been silent during the course of an illegal transaction? (Lk 15:12).

Have I failed to intervene in a family dispute when I could have been an agent of reconciliation? (Lk 15:12).

Have I taken money that I am not entitled to? (Lk 15:12b).

Have I pouted in jealousy? (Lk 15:28a).

Have I defied a legitimate request from my parents or someone in authority? (Lk 15:28b).

Have I shamed my family or friends with my obnoxious behavior? (Lk 15:28c).

Have I lied about my past, claiming I am innocent to cover up my guilt? (Lk 15:29a).

Have I competed with family members so I might get an edge on them? (Lk 15:29b).

Have I sought favored treatment for myself at the expense of another? (Lk 15:29b).

Have I unfairly disavowed a brother, sister, or other family member who I have grown to despise? (Lk 15:30a).

Have I lied about a family member, or distorted information about them, of falsely accused them, so as to discredit them? (Lk 15:30b).

Have I harbored deep resentments? (Lk 15:30).

Have I stubbornly refused to join my family or friends for a celebration that I should have attended? (Lk 15:28,30).

Have I damaged or destroyed family harmony? (Lk 15:28-30).

Have I withheld forgiveness, thereby preventing the reestablishment of peace in my family? (Lk 15:28-30).

A Reflection Drawn from Lk 23:33-43

The sins of the Chief Priests and elders, the Scribes and the Pharisees

Have I been jealous of someone else’s magnetic personality or tremendous popularity?
Have I been envious of someone else’s talents and abilities?
Have I been resentful of someone else’s achievements and successes?

Do I harbor evil thoughts in my heart toward someone else?
Have I plotted the downfall of a good and decent person? (Lk 22:2a)
Have I aligned myself with someone who I knew was up to no good? (Lk 22:6).

Have I conspired with others to bring down someone we dislike? (Lk 22:2a).
Have I caved into peer pressure or the negative influence of others? (Lk 22:2b).
Have I asked anyone to sell out on their friend? (Lk 22:4).
Have I provided money or favors to someone as a reward for doing something wrong? (Lk 22:5).

Have I twisted rules or policies to get things to go badly for someone else?
Am I part of a group that wants to keep tight control over everything, and allows no one else to have a voice?

Have I used intimidation or physical force on someone? (Lk 22:52).
Have I used the cover of darkness or the secrecy of closed doors to commit an evil deed? (Lk 22:53).

Have I refused to pay attention to someone who is speaking the truth? (Lk 22:67).
Have I lied or twisted the facts to discredit someone? (Lk 23:2,5).
Have I been harsh or mean or accusatory to someone? (Lk 23:10).

The sins of the Roman Soldiers.
Have I taken pride in the fact that I am tougher and meaner than other people?

Have I obeyed orders from my superiors that I knew were wrong or harmful? (Lk 23:25).

Have I taken sadistic pleasure in watching someone suffer physical or emotional pain? (Lk 23:11).
Have I mocked or taunted someone? (Lk 23:11).
Have I treated someone with cruelty? (Lk 23:11).
Have I inflicted bodily harm on someone? (Lk 23:16,22).

Have I unfairly forced someone to do a task that is not their responsibility? (Lk 23:26).
Have I forced someone who is sick or ailing to continue a task when they deserved relief?

Have I torn open old wounds to make someone who has suffered a great deal suffer yet more?

Have I driven the nails of my hatred into someone? (Lk 23:33).
Have I pinned someone to a terrible fate? (Lk 23:33).
Have I jeered at someone who was languishing? (Lk 23:36).
Have I looked forward to someone’s death so I could inherit something of theirs? (Lk 23:34).

The sins of the Crowd.
Have there been times when I have been so strongly influenced by the crowd or public opinion that I have failed to think or act for myself? (Lk 23:18).
Have there been times that I have gone with the flow, only to do something against Christian values? (Lk 23:18).
Have I allowed someone to escape responsibility for a serious misdeed? (Lk 23:18).
Have I gone back on a previous good relationship (Lk 19:38), and when the political tide shifted, gone against someone who is really a decent person? (Lk 23:18,21,23).

Has there been an instance when my loud and persistent voice prevailed over calmer, more reasonable voices, so someone who was undeserving received poor treatment? (Lk 23:23).
Have I asked someone in charge to punish someone who was innocent of wrongdoing? (Lk 23:24,25).
Have I helped a guilty person get off Scott-free? (Lk23:25).
Have I stood by at a tragic event, watching, and done nothing to help the suffering person? (Lk 23:35).

The sins of the Unrepentant Criminal.
Do I have a long history of misbehavior or wicked deeds? (Lk 23:33).
Have I insulted Jesus with my disrespectful speech? (Lk 23:39).
Do I try to escape the consequences of my previous evil doing? (Lk 23:39).
Do I have no real fear of God? (Lk 23:40).
Am I so hardened that I have little or no remorse for my sins? (Lk 23:40).
Are my habitual sins so deeply ingrained that, when given a chance to be forgiven, I would prefer to stay stuck in the rut of my bad attitudes and sinful patterns?

St. Peter’s Shortcomings

Incident One:

Jesus began to teach Peter and the other disciples: “the Son of Man must suffer greatly, be rejected … and be killed” (Mk 8:31). Then Peter took [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you!” (Mt 16:22). Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me!” (Mt 16:23). Peter sinned: he tempted Jesus to take the easy way out, he discouraged Jesus from obeying God’s will.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have there been times that I have advised someone to take the easy way rather than the right way?
  • If my friend is pondering a courageous, difficult, proper course of action, a decision which might have very serious consequences for one’s family, job security or economic well-being, reputation or health, and if that friend asks me for advice:
  • Have I ever discouraged another from doing the right thing?
  • Have I planted seeds of doubt in someone’s mind?
  • Have I advised a friend to play it safe rather than speak out against something that is clearly wrong?
  • Have I tempted someone to compromise their beliefs or principles?
  • Have I pointed someone toward the low road rather than encourage them to follow God’s higher calling?

Incident Two:

Late one night Peter and the other disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus approached them, walking on the water (Mt 14:25). “Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus, but when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened and began to sink” (Mt 14:29-30). Peter sinned: he took his eyes off Jesus in a time of trouble, he let his worry and fear overwhelm him when Jesus was there, ready to help.

Reflection Questions:

  • When I am sinking do I take my eye off of Jesus?
  • When I am drowning in life’s troubles:
    Do I blame God?
    Do I quit working at my relationship with God?
    Do I quit praying, quit going to church,
    quit reading the Bible, quit receiving the Sacraments?
  • When things are really bad and it looks like I might not survive, do I turn away from Jesus, even though he is ready to help?
  • Do I substitute things like too much alcohol? Drugs?
    Improper sexual activity? Too much gambling? Too much TV?
  • I am a “worry-wart?”
    Do I waste too much energy worrying about the storms swirling around me, rather than bring my concerns to God?
  • When my life is dark and turbulent, do I whine and complain?

Incident Three:

When Jesus was transfigured (Mt 17:1-8), Peter said, “Lord, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Mt 17:4). Peter sinned: he wanted to do all of the work, his way, by himself; he wanted to hang onto the moment rather than move ahead; and he wanted to have a good time rather than get down to work.

Reflection Questions:

  • When it comes to jobs do I insist that things always have to be done my way?
  • Am I a good team player?
  • Do I cooperate well with my co-workers?
    Am I so arrogant that I think that I’m the only one talented enough to do the job?
  • Do I have too many irons in the fire?
    Am I drawn in so many directions that Jesus gets ignored?
  • Do I prefer to live in the past?
    Am I rigid or inflexible?
    Do I resist necessary change?
  • Do I party and recreate to a fault?
    Am I mostly concerned about having a good time, while I avoid getting down to serious work?

Incident Four:

When Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane in the Garden of Olives, “Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear” (Jn 18:10). Peter sinned: while Peter was standing next to Jesus, the Prince of Peace, he resorted to violence.

Reflection Questions:

  • Have I turned to violence to get my way?
  • Do I resort to verbal violence?
  • Do I have a pattern of speaking harshly, rudely, raising my voice, or consistently using a nasty tone of voice? Have I threatened or intimidated someone?
  • Have I turned to emotional violence; the silent treatment, withholding love, temper tantrums, or manipulation?
  • Have I resorted to physical violence; slapping, pushing, or kicking?
  • Have I resorted to sexual violence?
  • Have I made unwanted advances?
  • Have I forced myself on someone?
  • Have I done violence to someone’s reputation by intentionally spreading half truths or misinformation?

Incident Five:

When Jesus was arraigned before the high priest (Jn 18:15), Peter warmed himself by a charcoal fire in the courtyard (Jn 18:18). The maid said to Peter, “Aren’t you one of Jesus’ disciples?” (Jn 18:17), but Peter replied, “I am not!” (Jn 18:17b), “I do not know the man!” (Mt 26:72). Peter sinned: Peter denied Jesus, not once, but three times.

Reflection Questions:

If I am in a group of people that is hostile toward Catholics, skeptical about religion, or claims that religion is superstition:

  • Have I been proud to admit that I am a Catholic?
  • Have I declared my faith in public?
  • Or do I put my head down, hoping that no one will see me; hoping they will not ask so I will not have to tell?
  • Have there been times when others have spoken out against core Catholic beliefs, things like abortion or euthanasia, the death penalty or racism, when I have denied Jesus by failing to stand up for the Gospel of Life or the Law of Love?
  • Does my behavior deny that I am one of Jesus’ followers?

Incident Six:

After the crucifixion, Peter left Jerusalem, went back to his old home along the Sea of Galilee, and returned to his old job, fishing on the lake (Jn 21:2). Peter sinned: he gave up, he thought he had wasted his three years following Jesus, and he went back to his old ways.

Reflection Questions:

  • Has there been an occasion when I have simply stopped following Jesus?
  • Has there been a time when I thought my Christian faith was a waste of time, and I abandoned Jesus?
  • When things have ended in disappointment or failure, have I set aside my religious ideals, walked away from my vocation, or resumed some old bad habits?

Children’s Examination of Conscience

My Relationship with God

  • Do I pray to God every day?
  • Do I fight against my parents when they say it is time to go to Mass on Sunday?
  • Do I participate in Mass by paying attention, responding, and singing?
  • Do I speak about God respectfully, or do I use God’s name in vain?
  • Do I try to learn more about my faith by learning prayers, attending religion classes, and reading the Bible?

My Relationship with My Family

  • Do I obey my parents like I should?
  • Do I talk back to my parents? Am I disrespectful toward my parents?
  • Am I responsible about cleaning my room and doing my assigned household jobs?
  • Am I ever mean to my brothers and sisters?
  • Do I take care of my pets like I should? Or do I neglect or abuse my pets?
  • Do I watch bad TV programs or videos?
  • Am I selfish with my things, or do I share them with others?

Honesty

  • Have I lied to my parents? to my teachers? to my friends?
  • Have I cheated on homework or a test?
  • Have I taken something that does not belong to me?
  • Do I borrow things without returning them?

School

  • Do I fool around in class? Am I lazy?
  • Am I disrespectful or inconsiderate toward teachers or classmates?
  • Do I pick on other kids?
  • Do I have a foul mouth?

Self Care

  • Do I eat a well balanced diet?
  • Do I get enough rest by getting to bed on time at night?
  • Do I brush my teeth each day?
  • Do I bathe, groom my hair, and dress appropriately?

First Reconciliation

Children in Grade 2 and beyond are invited to prepare for and participate in the Sacrament of First Reconciliation.  In line with Archdiocesan guidelines, First Reconciliation preparation is primarily home-based with several onsite activities and events for parents and student, and children need to participate in First Reconciliation before receiving First Eucharist.  In addition, families are asked to be registered members of St. Stephen’s Church and to enroll the child in a grade 2 or beyond Faith Formation or Catholic day school program.

At the first parent meeting in September, parents receive a packet for home-based studies, including Reconciliation: Pardon and Peace by RCL Benziger and accompanying lesson plans, as well as other printed and online resources.

  • Parent Meetings: September 26 or 27 at 6:30 p.m. in Faith Community Center Room 1
  • Learning Centers: October 14, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the Faith Community Center for child and parent. You will need about two hours to complete the activities.
  • First Reconciliation Retreat: November 14 or 15 at 6:15 p.m.
  • Celebration of First Reconciliation: December 2 at 9:30 or 11:00 a.m.

It is highly recommended that children preparing for first sacraments in grade 2 attend either a grade 1 Faith Formation class or be enrolled in a Catholic school for grade 1.  This helps provide a solid foundation for and helps keep the child in step with peers.

Supplemental resources for First Reconciliation preparation

For more information on First Reconciliation, email Emilie Bauer or call 763-712-7430.

If you have a child with Special Needs, please Visit our Youth Programs page here.