Saturday 20th April 2024

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Sacraments Instituted By Christ… The Examination Of Conscience

July 1, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments


Part 35

One thing is certain: A good Confession requires humility and courage. I knew a priest in Latin America who had a message for males when they went to Confession and hesitated about telling him everything. The priest would say to the penitent: “If you were man enough to sin, be a real man now and confess it!”
There is nothing to be gained by confessing with euphemisms or roundabout expressions. We must tell it as it is, or tell them as they are, in plain language. Fact is, there is nothing new under the sun, the sins we have committed other people have committed before us, and will commit after we die. Moreover, there is nothing a priest has not heard before.
So, let us summarize some of the most important points we have been studying so far. When we speak of sin, we must always bear in mind that sin is any thought, word, deed, or omission that we commit, knowingly and willingly, against the law of God and His Love.
St. Thomas Aquinas taught that to think is to distinguish. So, sin can be distinguished into two basic kinds: mortal and venial.
Mortal or grave sin is any serious violation of the Law of God. It is called “serious” or “grave” because of its gravity; it is called “mortal” because it is deadly, and kills the divine life within the soul.
Another distinction: Three conditions must be met for a sin to be mortal: grave matter, full knowledge, deliberate consent.
A venial sin is a minor violation of the Commandments, or a failure to meet the requirements of God’s law in a less serious matter, or a major transgression but without full knowledge or consent. “All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal” (1 John 5:17).
Contrition is the true sorrow we conceive for having offended God by sin. It implies the detestation of sin and a firm purpose of amendment. God will not pardon my sins, either great or small, unless I am sorry for them.
Distinction: Contrition must possess four qualities: internal, universal, supernatural, and supreme.
Internal, that is, it must be genuine sorrow, and not mere outward show; I must mean it.
Universal, that is, it must cover all mortal sins of which I know I am guilty of; it must be accompanied by a firm purpose to avoid them and to avoid dangerous occasions of sin.
Supernatural, that is, it must be inspired by grace, for without grace I can do nothing toward eternal life; and it must spring from some motive revealed to me by faith, as, for example, the goodness of God whom I offended, the sufferings of Christ caused by sins or even the fear of Hell. If my contrition is supernatural, I can be certain that God will forgive my sins.
Supreme, that is, I, the penitent, must consider sin to be a greater evil than any evil of this life, and must detest it accordingly.
Dealing more specifically with grave sin, two kinds of contrition can be distinguished:
Perfect Contrition is contrition founded on charity or the perfect love of God. In perfect contrition, I grieve for my sins because they are hateful to One who is Himself infinitely lovable and whom I love above all things for His own sake regardless of the bad consequences those sins may bring about upon me.
But, though this love is unselfish, I need not exclude the thought of the great blessings His friendship will give me. The Church has condemned the opinion that perfect charity must be absolutely disinterested. God wants me to desire Heaven and its eternal happiness.
Perfect contrition immediately reconciles the sinner to God, because it contains the desire of the Sacrament of Confession. So the Love of God restores me to His friendship.
The other kind of contrition is called attrition. It is a contrition that springs from any supernatural motive lower than that of perfect charity, for example, the remembrance of the filth and horror of my sins, the loss of eternal happiness, or the pains of Hell or Purgatory.
Attrition may be justly described as a selfish sorrow for sin. Yet it is true sorrow. It is grounded on faith and hope, and God is pleased with it. There are qualities of attrition. Attrition must also be internal, universal, supernatural, and supreme.
It is a sincere and thorough change of heart, a turning to God, and away from sin. The motives we have set forth (the fear of Hell, the loss of Heaven) lead the sinner to three things:
When the sinner has made such an act of attrition as we have described, he is fit to receive the Sacrament of Penance. More concretely, without the sacrament, I could not obtain pardon for my sins, because my sorrow is not inspired by the perfect love of God. Still, my attrition would seem necessarily to involve some love of God, however imperfect: I cannot completely turn away from sin as my enemy without perceiving, at least obscurely, that I am turning to God as my friend; I cannot desire reconciliation without seeking, or beginning to seek, friendship with God.
Contrition necessarily implies the hope of pardon. Hence the sorrow of Judas, because it was devoid of hope, was not true Contrition. St. Peter had also betrayed Jesus, but his sorrow was born of true contrition. He was pardoned.
Furthermore, as the penitent, I have, in the Passion of our Savior, a greater incentive to divine love than any that can be found in God’s dealings with His chosen people in the past. In the Christian life which I am now beginning anew after my Confession, I will make my acts of charity as easily and as frequently as my acts of faith.
The love that I — and you, dear Reader — should have for God is twofold: First, we should love Him because of all the blessings He has given us and because of the happiness He desires to bestow on us in Heaven. This is the imperfect love of gratitude and hope.
Second, we should also love Him above all things and for His own sake because there is no limit to His goodness and lovableness. This is the perfect love of charity.
Our love of God may begin with the first kind, and should end with the second.
Next article: The Sacrament of Confession in the Sacred Scriptures.

+ + +

(Raymond de Souza, KM, is a Knight of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta; a delegate for International Missions for Human Life International [HLI]; and an EWTN program host. Website:

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Vatican and USCCB leave transgender policy texts unpublished

While U.S. bishops have made headlines for releasing policies addressing gender identity and pastoral ministry, guidelines on the subject have been drafted but not published by both the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s doctrinal office, leaving diocesan bishops to…Continue Reading

Biden says Pope Francis told him to continue receiving communion, amid scrutiny over pro-abortion policies

President Biden said that Pope Francis, during their meeting Friday in Vatican City, told him that he should continue to receive communion, amid heightened scrutiny of the Catholic president’s pro-abortion policies.  The president, following the approximately 90-minute-long meeting, a key…Continue Reading

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1


Today . . .

Kamala Harris Heads to Arizona to Promote Abortions Up to Birth

Kamala Harris is visiting Arizona today to showcase the Biden-Harris Administration’s radical support of unlimited abortion. “Kamala Harris has become the abortion czar of the Biden Administration,” said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee. “Instead of joining with the pro-life movement to build programs and safety nets to help promote real solutions for women and their preborn children, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have engaged in fearmongering and propaganda,” Tobias continue

May Everyone Have a Blessed and Joyful Easter

Is Easter being replaced with the ‘Transgender Day of Visibility’?

Two observances — Easter and the recently contrived “International Transgender Day of Visibility” — fall on Sunday, March 31 this year, causing some to wonder “Is Easter being replaced with the ‘Transgender Day of Visibility?’” It’s a valid question. For more than a few, it certainly will. Others might dismiss this as nothing more than a coincidence. That would be a mistake. On the last day of this month, we will witness a clash of religions as…Continue Reading

Abortion Advocates No Longer Consider It “A Necessary Evil,” They Celebrate Killing Babies

Last week, Kamala Harris became the first vice president in U.S. history to make a public visit to an abortion clinic. Though the Democratic party’s support for abortion is nothing new, Harris’ Planned Parenthood appearance does illustrate how that support has become a flagrant celebration of abortion as a public and personal good, essential to both “freedom” and to “healthcare.” At the appearance, Harris proclaimed,  It is only right and fair that people have access…Continue Reading

Wisconsin Supreme Court says Catholic charity group cannot claim religious tax exemption

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a major Catholic charity group’s activities were not “primarily” religious under state law, stripping the group of a key tax break and ordering it to pay into the state unemployment system. Catholic Charities Bureau (CCB) last year argued that the state had improperly removed its designation as a religious organization.  The charity filed a lawsuit after the state said it did not qualify to be considered as an organization…Continue Reading

The King of Kings

Cindy Paslawski We are at the end of the Church year. We began with Advent a year ago, commemorating the time awaiting the coming of the Christ and we are ending these weeks later with a vision of the future, a vision of Christ the King of the Universe on His throne before us all.…Continue Reading

7,000 Pro-Lifers March In London

By STEVEN ERTELT LONDON (LifeNews) — Over the weekend, some seven thousand pro-life people in the UK participated in the March for Life in London to protest abortion.They marched to Parliament Square on Saturday, September 2 under the banner of “Freedom to Live” and had to deal with a handful of radical abortion activists.During the…Continue Reading

An Appeal For Prayer For The Armenian People

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke on August 29, 2023, issued this prayer for the Armenian people, noting their unceasing love for Christ, even in the face of persecution.) + + On the Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, having a few days ago celebrated the…Continue Reading

Robert Hickson, Founding Member Of Christendom College, Dies At 80

By MAIKE HICKSON FRONT ROYAL, Va. (LifeSiteNews) — Robert David Hickson, Jr., of Front Royal, Va., died at his home on September 2, 2023, at 21:29 p.m. after several months of suffering and after having received the Last Rites of the Catholic Church. He was surrounded by friends and family.Robert is survived by me —…Continue Reading

The Real Hero Of “Sound of Freedom”… Says The Film Has Strengthened The Fight Against Child Trafficking

By ANA PAULA MORALES (CNA) —Tim Ballard, a former U.S. Homeland Security agent who risked his life to fight child trafficking, discussed the impact of the movie Sound of Freedom, which is based on his work, in an August 29 interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. “I’ve spent more than 20 years helping…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: This lesson on medical-moral issues is taken from the book Catholicism & Ethics. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. The email and postal addresses are given at the end of this column. Special Course On Catholicism And Ethics (Pages 53-59)…Continue Reading

Color Politics An Impediment To Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The USCCB is rightly concerned about racism, as they should be about any sin. In the 2018 statement Open Wide Our Hearts, they affirm the dignity of every human person: “But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and…Continue Reading

Trademarks Of The True Messiah

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this essay on September 2, and it is reprinted here with permission.) + + In Sunday’s Gospel the Lord firmly sets before us the need for the cross, not as an end in itself, but as the way to glory. Let’s consider the Gospel in three stages.First: The Pattern That…Continue Reading

A Beacon Of Light… The Holy Cross And Jesus’ Unconditional Love

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON Each year on September 14 the Church celebrates the Feast Day of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. The Feast Day of the Triumph of the Holy Cross commemorates the day St. Helen found the True Cross. It is fitting then, that today we should focus on the final moments of Jesus’ life on the…Continue Reading

Our Ways Must Become More Like God’s Ways

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Fifth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9Phil. 1:20c-24, 27aMatt. 20:1-16a In the first reading today, God tells us through the Prophet Isaiah that His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially when we look at what the Lord…Continue Reading

The Devil And The Democrats

By FR. DENIS WILDE, OSA States such as Minnesota, California, Maryland, and others, in all cases with Democrat-controlled legislatures, are on a fast track to not only allow unborn babies to be murdered on demand as a woman’s “constitutional right” but also to allow infanticide.Our nation has gotten so used to the moral evil of killing in the womb that…Continue Reading

Crushed But Unbroken . . . The Martyrdom Of St. Margaret Clitherow

By RAY CAVANAUGH The late-1500s were a tough time for Catholics in England, where the Reformation was in full gear. A 1581 law prohibited Catholic religious ceremonies. And a 1584 Act of Parliament mandated that all Catholic priests leave the country or else face execution. Some chose to remain, however, so they could continue serving the faithful.Also taking huge risks…Continue Reading