by Fr. Bernard O' Reilly, 1897

My dear little child, do you know what it is to go to confession? Pay great attention to what I shall say to you, and, when you understand me, try to do what I tell you. Some children are very much afraid of confession. One would think the Confessional was to them a kind of mousetrap, into which the poor little mouse goes only to be eaten up by the cat. I knew a little girl in Paris who, when her mother first took her to confession, cried so bitterly that the poor lady felt ashamed, and was obliged to take her home again. Another child, a little boy, nearly fainted when he heard the priest draw back the grating, and then started up and ran off, as if the devil were at his heels. Others shake and tremble, and their hearts are all in a flutter as the moment draws near.

These are very foolish little children, for to go to confession is the easiest thing in the world. You must not be so silly as they are. You must first learn what they do not seem to know: what it really is to make a simple confession, and how very good for you such a confession must be.

To confess is to go to a priest of Jesus Christ, and tell him, simply and frankly, all the sins we can remember having committed. We do not go to tell our sins as an amusement, or to make time pass quickly, but to ask God's pardon for anything we may have done to oflend Him. Sometimes it costs us a good deal to do this; but it must be done all the same, because we are on earth to do God's will, and not our own. If you hope for forgiveness, you must confess your sins to a priest, and to a priest only. Do you know the reason why? Because when our Lord was on earth He gave the power of forgiving sins to His priests, and to no one else. It was to His priests alone that He said: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven, and whose sins you shall retain they are retained." At another time He said to them: "Whatsoever ydu shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Therefore it is plain that if we wish for forgiveness from God for our our sins, we must confess them to a priest of Jesus Christ.

It is not enough to be sorry for our sins, and confess them in secret to God. No; for Jesus Himself tells us to confess our sins to His priests, who represent Him on earth. When you feel ill you send at once for the doctor, because you know that he alone can cure you; it is the same when your poor little soul is ill; you must not delay going to the priest, who is the doctor of souls, and cures them in the name of God. Those who do not wish to confess their sins, cannot and will not be cured. Sin is a dangerous illness, which often ends in eternal death.

If you are blessed with a good, pious mother, you cannot do better than ask her to help you when you prepare for confession; you may, if you like, even tell her your faults; but it is not necessary, it only helps a little child in his preparation. If you have done something which you feel ashamed to tell your mother, you are not obliged to do so; but you must confess all to the priest. We must tell the priest every sin that we remember. God wishes this. If through false shame you concealed even one sin, you would commit a great crime, and make a bad confession. Your sins would not be forgiven, and you would be guilty of a very grievous act. My dear little child, it is better never to go to confession than to make a bad one. I have known some poor little children who, during several years, went on hiding sins in this way. They were very, very unhappy; and if they had died in this state, they would most certainly have gone to hell.

But you may say, "I have committed a great many sins." Well, my child, God's mercy is surely greater than your sins. Do not be afraid, but confess everything.

It is very silly to hide a sin from the priest, no matter how great it may be. First, we offend God; then, sooner or later, it must be confessed, unless you wish to go to hell with the devil. Why not do at once what you certainly must do some day? Then, if you hide a sin, you must make all your confessions over again; and this is very painful and very disagreeable. It shows that you do not understand the priest of God, who loves his penitents, feels great compassion for their weakness, and consoles them when they are unhappy. Unfortunately, he has often been accustomed to hear all kinds of wicked, bad sins; therefore nothing anyone confesses to him will ever shock him. Do not be afraid, dear little child, to tell him all your sins, without trying to hide so much as one. It may cost you a little pain, but you will be rewarded by a sweet peace and happiness when you receive the holy absolution, and feel that all your sins have been washed away by the precious blood of Jesus, your divine Saviour.

You may say, "I should be very grad to tell all, but I do not know how, I have been so naughty." Very well, say that to your confessor; say, simply, "Father, I have done a great many wicked things, but I do not know how to tell them." He will help you then; he will question you, and you must answer honestly and simply; and after this you may feel content.

Do not forget, dear child, what I mean is--you must not willfully hide a sin in confession. If you forget one, or even several sins in confession, you need not be frightened. Your sins are forgiven, just as if you had confessed them all. You must not think about them again. Only, as our Lord has commanded us to confess all mortal sins, it will be well to say the next time you go to confession, "Father, the last time I forgot to tell you that I had done such or such a sin." If you did not wish to do this, you would offend God and make a bad confession.

There is one thing which should give us great courage when we have great sins to confess; that is, that the priest can never, on any account, tell what has been said to him in confession. That is what is called "the seal of confession." A priest is obliged to suffer persecutions, imprisonment, and even death itself, rather than make known the smallest sin told him in confession. A great bishop of the early ages, St. Augustine, said: "That which I know through confession I know less than that which I do not know." No priest was ever known to reveal the sins told to him in confession. Such a thing has never happened, and never will happen. Is not this a great comfort to a little sinner like you?

And this confession, made in secret, and forgotten a minute afterwards by the priest, is it not a thousand times better than the terrible shame which proud sinners will feel at the day of judgment? God will make known all their sins to the whole world, to both angels and men, before He condemns these wicked ones to hell for all eternity. That which you blush to confess to a holy man, under the seal of confession, will be known one day by your father and mother, your brothers, sisters, masters and companions. Was I not right when I said that it is foolish, very foolish, to conceal one single sin in confession?

Thus, my dear little one, you see what a simple thing it is to go to confession; and yet it is quite right that we should go, and not only tell some of our sins, but each and every one of them.


In order to obtain forgiveness for our sins, it is not enough to confess to a priest; we must repent of them from the bottom of our hearts. This hearty sorrow for sin is called Contrition. It is not very hard for good little children to feel sorry for their sins, when they think of the infinite goodness of God, their Father.

God is so good; He loves me so well; and I have offended Him! He wishes me to go to heaven; He opens His Sacred Heart and Arms to receive me ; and yet I am ungrateful and disobedient.

Jesus, my good Saviour, wept because of the sins I have committed. He wept for me in the stable at Bethlehem, in the house at Nazareth, and in His great agony in the Garden of Olives. My sins were the cause of His bitter sufferings and great humiliations. Because of my sins He was crowned with thorns, torn with scourges, and crucified between two thieves. It was for me, a miserable little sinner, that Jesus hung bleeding upon the cross; that He died and was pierced with a lance. It was for me that He rose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven. And how have I acted towards Him? how have I repaid all His love?

By one mortal sin I have deserved to go to hell, and my sweet Jesus says to me, "Dear child, repent, and I will forgive you!"

If we thought seriously of these things, we should find it very easy to be sorry for our sins. But little children are so thoughtless; they live like flies, like sparrows; they think only of foolish things, of their play, their walks, what they have done and what they are going to do to amuse themselves; and so they forget the love of God, and that they have a conscience to keep pure and free from sin, a soul to save, and a heart to make holy and pious. They think of all kinds of things, but never or very seldom of Jesus. Our Lord, my dear child, loves you, and wishes to dwell in your little heart; but He hates sin, and sheds tears of love and sorrow over every little one who, without thinking of His goodness, offends Him by the many sins he commits.

Do not, then, my child, act like these children. Think of what your Saviour has done for you, and try and show that you are grateful. Keep your little heart free and pure from all sin; if you are so unhappy as to have fallen into a sin, and above all a mortal sin, turn at once to Jesus, and say to Him, with great sorrow; "My good Jesus, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee; because Thou hast loved me, I will love Thee, my Saviour . . . I am sorry that I have sinned, because Thou art infinitely good and holy! . . . Forgive me, Lord; I will never do so again!" This prayer is called an act of contrition.

You must remember, dear child, that the first and greatest reason to be sorry for our sins is, that God loves us and we love Him. Fear of God, fear of hell-fire, these are very good motives for sorrow; but the most perfect and Christian reason is, love of God. Love has such great power over the Heart of Jesus, that it makes Him grant us at once all that we ask of Him. If, then, we say to our Lord, with all the fervor of our hearts, with great humility and confidence, the following prayer, we are sure to obtain a full forgiveness of our sins.

"Jesus, my God, forgive me; I love You with all my soul; I repent bitterly having offended Thy love! I hope I shall never sin again, because I love Thee!"

Besides this, we must be resolved to go to confession as soon as ever we can; in this way, if we were to die suddenly, without having time to go to confession, we are sure of our eternal salvation.

Your mother's heart is, in a small way, an image of the Heart of Jesus. When you have done something very naughty, which you know displeases your mother, what gives you most pain? Is it not the sorrow which you have caused to one who loves you more than anyone else in the world? Then, my child, do not forget that our Lord loves you more dearly than your mother could ever love you.

When we are truly sorry for our sins, we must be resolved never to commit them again. This is called a "firm purpose of amendment." If you fall, you rise up again as soon as you can. And you think, "well, I must not fall again." Is not this true? This is what you must do, then, when you fall into sin: you must arise at once, and take care not to fall again willingly in the same manner.

But this does not say that you will never sin again. No; because no matter how sincere may be our sorrow, it does not make us incapable of sinning; it only means that you hate sin with all your heart and soul, and that you will do all you can for the future to avoid sin and everything that may tempt you to sin. When you are going downstairs, you are quite resolved not to slip; and yet, in spite of this, you may even fall and hurt yourself severely. But still, a resolution against sin, if really strong, will help you to resist a great many temptations. One of the best signs of a truly firm purpose of amendment is the care which you take to avoid what you think was the cause of your sin. For instance, a little companion has given you bad example, or said some bad words, and in this way made you offend God. If you are really sorry, you will keep away from this naughty boy; and if you are obliged to be with him, watch yourself well, and be sure to tell him that he must not repeat these bad words.

But do not forget, dear child, that all your good resolutions are useless if they are not strengthened by the grace of God. Ask this grace every time you feel yourself tempted to do what you know is wrong. Grace is the union of your soul with Jesus; the instant you feel yourself tempted, turn to Jesus and say: "My God, come to my aid! Jesus, have pity on me! I love Thee; I never wish to sin again!"

As God loves you, and wishes you to be saved, He will never refuse you His Holy Grace. Jesus is always with you; He follows you everywhere, watching you, living night and day in your dear little soul. He took possession of it at your baptism, and He wishes to keep it pure and free from the slightest stain of sin. Do not be afraid; He is with you, and He is stronger, a hundred times stronger, than the wicked devil who wishes you to lose your soul by sin, and tries to drag you down with him to hell. Without Jesus you can do nothing; but with Him you need have no fear. When we are so unhappy as to commit sin, it is our own fault only, and we must humiliate ourselves and repent bitterly having offended our dear Lord, and having shown ourselves so ungrateful to Him.

The Blessed Virgin is called by the Church, "Mother of divine grace " she must be our refuge in all our temptations. She it was who first gave the infant Saviour to the world, when she presented Him to the shepherds and the wise men in the stable at Bethlehem. She it is who gives Jesus to our souls, and leads us to the feet of Jesus.

Pray to her, then, dear little one; love her fervently as your dearest Mother, who loves you for the sake of her dear Jesus. When you are tempted, or when you have sinned, go to Mary, recite piously the Hail Mary, and ask this good Mother to obtain for you purity of heart and forgiveness of your sins. The Blessed Virgin is the Mother of true penitents; protectress of the weak; refuge of sinners; often, by her help, the salvation of Christians.

The Absolution

Absolution is the pardon given by the priest to the penitent, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. When it is possible to go to confession, there is no other way for a sinner to become a child of God again.

If, by an act of perfect contrition, and a great desire to go to confession, you had received pardon of your sins, and if you changed and did not go to confession, your sin, once forgiven, would remain forgiven; but you would commit a mortal sin more grievous than the first, because you would offend more directly the love and mercy of your Saviour, Jesus Christ. And, then, as we are never sure that our contrition has been perfect enough to purify our souls, confession and absolution are always necessary.

Absolution is, then, the sentence of pardon that the priest pronounces in the name of Jesus Christ. When the confession is finished, the priest tells the penitent to excite himself to a hearty sorrow, whilst he pronounces the words of absolution. Sometimes, when the priest thinks that the penitent is not properly disposed, or that his faults are small, he only gives him his blessing, and puts off the absolution to another time. This blessing does not forgive sin; it is the absolution alone that has this power.

Whilst the priest pronounces the holy words of absolution, Jesus Christ pours down a great many graces upon the soul of the penitent, bathing him in the torrents of His Precious Blood, purifying him from all stain of sin: so that after the absolution the penitent is pure and holy in the sight of God and His angels. What a great grace, and what a happy moment!

During this time the happy penitent should humble himself deeply before Jesus, hidden in the priest; he must say, from the depths of his heart and with great love, the Act of Contrition: "My God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, because Thou art infinitely good, and that sin displeases Thee; I ask Thy pardon through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Saviour; and I make a firm resolution, by Thy Holy Grace, never to sin again!"

We must try not to be distracted whilst the priest pronounces the holy words; but if, unconsciously, other things pass through our mind, we must not trouble ourselves, but make an act of humility. In general, it is better not to pay too much attention to distractions which are not wilful.

We may receive absolution at every age; from the time we come to the use of reason, which is about the age of seven years, and sometimes even sooner. As soon as we are capable of displeasing God we must confess our sins, and can then receive absolution. A little sinner of six and a half or seven years old, if he has committed a mortal sin, has as much need to receive absolution as if he were thirty or forty.

Some children, who have not been well instructed, believe that they do not receive absolution until the evening before their first communion. This is a great mistake, and quite contrary to the teaching of the Church. These children, if they think they cannot receive absolution, may make their confession carelessly and without a real sorrow, and so remain in a state of mortal sin until the time of their communion. What a preparation to receive our Lord for the first time! Do not act thus, my dear child. Every time you go to confession, prepare yourself as well as you can to receive absolution, and with great humility ask your confessor to give it to you. He will do so very gladly, feeling happy to see you so piously disposed. Sometimes, however, when a child is very young, the priest may think it right to give only his blessing, without the absolution, though the little penitent may have the best dispositions in the world: firstly, because he fears the child might not understand the absolution; and secondly, because it is not really required, as the little soul is quite pure, never having been stained by mortal sin.

The absolution is like a second baptism. When you receive it fervently, and with your whole heart, you are as pure as on the day of your baptism.

Penance and Satisfaction

When we have made a good confession and received absolution,--when we have thanked God for His great graces and mercies, we have not yet finished. Our sins are forgiven, it is true; but we must still do penance, that is to say, we must make amends for the sins we have committed, and offer to God, with this idea, all the good works, prayers and actions of the saints. Children are as much obliged to do this as persons who are grown up. The first work of penance for our sins is that which the priest gives us, and which, for this reason, is called "the penance." This sacramental penance is sometimes one or several prayers; sometimes an alms, or the giving up of a little pleasure; and often the doing of an act of piety and charity.

The penance must be done carefully, and as soon as we can. It is best, if possible, to do it before leaving the church, so that it may not be forgotten. If our penance is left undone through negligence or carelessness, we commit a sin. Besides, this would be great ingratitude: the sign of a very dry heart and an unchristian spirit. Lastly, it would be very silly: because we shall have to suffer in purgatory for the sins we have not made amends for on earth. The penance given us by the priest does more to expiate our sins (because of the Sacrament of Penance, of which it is a part) than any other penances we may do of ourselves. But it does not always pay the whole of the debt which we owe to God; and therefore it is well to join to it many acts of piety and mortification. The more we pray, the more charitable, obedient, patient, and humble we become: kind to others and hard upon ourselves. We thus purify our souls, and are more likely to escape purgatory.

Do penance, then, dear child, for your sins, so as to become more and more like the infant Jesus, who at Bethlehem, at Nazareth, and elsewhere, never ceased to weep and expiate your sins. He lives in you to aid you to do penance. He will bless you, and give you great happiness as a reward for the little sacrifices that you make for love for Him.

Dear child, when you go to confession, you must prepare yourself a little beforehand; first, you should avoid as much as possible offending God, and try to serve him in every act and thought. The evening before be careful to examine your conscience; ask our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and your angel guardian, to help you know the sins that you have had the misfortune to commit since your last confession. You must also beg light to see what was the cause of your sin, and ask your confessor to advise you as to the best way of avoiding it for the future. Children's confessions very often lose a great deal, because these little giddy pates do not give enough time to their examination of conscience.

In a great many prayer-books, my child, you will find examinations of conscience which will only bewilder you and not help you. If you read carefully the little one which I give at the end of this book, it will be quite enough, even for a general confession. When you are in the habit of going to confession every fortnight or three weeks, it will be quite enough to think for a few minutes over the faults which you are most likely to have committed.

1. In doing your duty towards God: morning and evening prayers; respect in holy places; catechism and religious instruction; mass and services on Sunday; sign of the cross; a pious life devoted to God.

2. Duty towards parents and superiors: obedience, respect, and willing submission; towards your companions, brothers, and sisters, kindness, good example, forgiving injuries; towards the poor, almsgiving and true charity.

3. In doing the duties of your state of life: working earnestly and with great application at your studies, etc.

4. In practicing those virtues without which even a child cannot be a true Christian: humility, great modesty in speaking; modesty when you succeed in anything, giving to God all the honor due to whatever of good you may have in you; forgetfulness of self, and thoughtfulness for others.

Purity: great care in resisting all temptations; not consenting to bad thoughts; avoiding books, conversations, reading, or actions contrary to this holy virtue; flying from bad companions and dangerous occasions.

Penance: patience during little sufferings, sickness, privations, and troubles which may come to you from time to time.

Think well and carefully over these virtues, and examine yourself upon the sins opposed to them, and upon a few other temptations which a child may have, such as telling lies, talking of one another's faults, telling tales, greediness, jealousy, saying naughty words, etc. Never acquire the habit of writing your confession; it is much easier to be sorry for our sins and tell them with humility when we say them simply, instead of reading them like a lesson. What matter if you forget a few of them: we know very well that big fish never escape by the holes of the net--the tiny ones alone get off; and this does not matter in confession. Then you must excite a great sorrow in your dear little heart, in thinking over the three considerations which I told you of just now:

The gratitude which we owe to God for His infinite goodness towards us: the tears and sufferings of our Saviour: the terrible fires of hell and of purgatory.

Then make some good resolutions, very firm and clear, directly opposed to some of the principal faults which you are going to confess. Say the Our Father, the Hail Mary, or some other little prayer to beg of God to grant you a true and sincere sorrow for sin, and the grace to make a good confession. Then go and kneel at the priest's feet, as at the feet of Jesus.

We must always, if possible, make our confession on our knees. When you begin, say to your confessor, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned;" the priest then gives you his blessing; and having made the sign of the cross, you must say the first part of the Confiteor:

"I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and to all the Saints, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault." Here bowing your head, you must accuse yourself simply and sincerely of all your sins. You must not speak either too loud or too fast; speak slowly and clearly, so that the priest may hear each word distinctly. Listen with great attention to the advice which your confessor gives you, and answer modestly and humbly to any questions he may ask you.

When you have confessed all the sins you remember, continue the Confiteor:

"Therefore I beseech thee, blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the Saints, and you, my Father, to pray to the Lord my God for me."

Whilst the priest pronounces the words of absolution, you must bow your head, and say the Act of Contrition with all your heart; then rising up, make the sign of the cross, and return to your place in the church. Here you must thank God fervently for the great grace which He has given you, in cleansing your soul in the Precious Blood of His Divine Son. Then take your Prayer-Book, and say fervently and carefully your sacramental penance.

Here I will add a little word of advice. Take great care never to repeat to your companions anything that may have been said to you in confession; never tell them what sins you have confessed, or what penance you have received.

When We Must Go to Confession

As soon as we come to the use of reason, we are obliged to go to confession at least once a year. We have come to the use of reason when we are capable of committing sin willfully. It is very useful, however, and, in some cases, quite necessary, to go often to confession. Your soul is like your face: in order to keep it clean you must not leave it long unwashed. Sin soils your soul, and to keep it pure you must go often to confession.

The more frequently you go to confession, the easier you will find it. Your confessor will take a kindly interest in you, and with his help you will soon acquire the habit of watching yourself and avoiding even the smallest occasion of sin. When you try to follow as much as possible the good advice which the priest gives you, you will find it easy to become holy and pious. Children about nine or ten years old may, if their confessor thinks it well, go to confession once a fortnight. Frequent, very frequent confession is the best and holiest preparation a child can make for his first communion.

A child who has the true faith will never go to bed with a mortal sin upon his conscience. My God! if he were to die in the night--what an awaking! A little boy named Paul made this good resolution: "I will never go to sleep in a state of mortal sin. If I have the misfortune to commit sin, I will go as soon as ever I can to confession." Well, one day the poor little fellow did something which he thought a grievous sin; in the evening, when his work was done, he went to the priest and confessed it. The next morning his mother, going into his little room to awake him, found him dead in his bed. . . . . Where would he have been had he put of his confession to another day?

An Examination of Conscience to be Made Before Confession

Have I always told all my sins in confession? Have I said my penance exactly and fervently? Have I tried to correct my faults and become holier?

The Ten Commandments

First--Have I always said my morning and night prayers? How often have I omitted them through carelessness? How often have I said them without respect, without the spirit of faith, lightly, or through custom? Have I made the sign of the cross thoughtlessly and without proper respect? Have I neglected offering all my thoughts, words, and actions to God? (We cannot be true Christians unless we live in and for Jesus Christ.)

Do I love with all my heart and soul Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar? Have I neglected to adore Him whenever I could? Have I neglected going to Holy Communion through coldness or carelessness?

Have I loved the Blessed Virgin and prayed to her fervently?

Have I laughed at holy things, or at the piety of my companions? Have I read books against religion?

Second--Have I said bad words? sworn? Have I taken the holy name of God in vain? Have I pronounced the holy name of Jesus and Mary in a disrespectful manner? Have I sworn or blasphemed before others, so as to give them bad example?

Third--Have I worked on Sundays? Have I bought anything on Sunday which was not absolutely necessary?

Have I through my own fault been absent from Mass on Sundays or holydays? Have I through my own fault been too late? Have I left the church before Mass was finished? How have I conducted myself? Have I talked or laughed in the church? How many times has this happened? Have I always assisted at Mass with great thought, attention, and devotion?

Have I assisted piously at Vespers and Benediction when it was possible? Have I listened with faith and respect to the religious instructions?

Fourth--Have I always had a great respect for the Pope, the Bishop, and priests who are my spiritual fathers and my guides in the way of salvation? Have I prayed every day for my relations, both living and dead? Have I disobeyed my parents? Have I disobeyed my mistresses, masters, or those who have charge of me? Have I treated them with disrespect? Have I been so wicked as to raise my hand to strike them? Have I despised their observations, and laughed at their good advice? Have I been obstinate in following my own will? How often has this happened?

Fifth--Have I given way to impatience? Have I been in a passion? Have I quarreled with my companions? Have I insulted them? Have I hurt them willfully? Have I tried to revenge myself upon them? Have I spoken ill of them? Have I spoken unkindly of their faults? Have I told lies about them? Have I told tales in order to get them punished? Have I without necessity--simply to amuse myself--been cruel to animals?

Sixth and Ninth--Have I always hated immodesty with my whole heart? Have I resisted temptations? Did I give way to impure thoughts? Did I expose myself willfully to dangerous temptations? Have I played with naughty children? Have I talked and laughed with them about naughty things? Have I been immodest? How many times seriously and willfully? (In this, as in other things, there is no sin unless it be willful.) Have I been immodest or careless in my books, in my reading? Have I been careful in observing great modesty towards myself in dressing and undressing? (No matter what shame we may feel in confessing a sin against purity, we must confess it bravely, without making it appear less or more to the priest. It is nearly always a sin of this kind that a penitent is most tempted to conceal in confession. If you feel it hard to confess such a sin, my dear child, ask the priest and he will help you and make it easy for you.)

Seventh and Tenth.--Have I taken something which did not belong to me? Have I taken money from my parents? How often? (This is a sin which foolish little children conceal through shame.) Have I kept something which I had taken or found, when I could have returned it? Have I cheated whilst at play?

Eighth--Do I tell lies? Have I told lies for fun? To excuse myself? To praise myself? To excuse others, or to have them punished? Have I told lies about my masters? Have I wished through vanity to appear better than others? Have I been vain of my dress, my beauty, or any success at my studies, instead of giving honor and thanks to God for all the gifts He has bestowed upon me? Have I thought little of those who were poorer or less instructed than myself? Have I done what I knew to be wrong because I was laughed at by my companions? Have I tried to appear pious and good when I was quite the contrary?

Examination Continued

Have I been kind to the poor? When I gave to them did I do it willingly and for the love of God? Have I been too fond of money? Have I been jealous of my companions--of their riches, beauty, or talents?

Have I grumbled and given way to discontent? Have I eaten or drank too much? Did I think too much of what I ate or drank? Have I spent too much money on sweet-things, instead of giving to the poor? Have I through greediness or carelessness eaten meat on days of fasting and abstinence appointed by the Church?

Have I given way to laziness? Have I done my exercises carelessly? Have I learned my lessons badly? Have I neglected my studies through indolence, and because I did not wish to give myself trouble? Have I been selfish and disagreeable with my companions? Have I given way to some bad habit because I felt discouraged and thought I could not overcome it? (Discouragement and sadness are the greatest and most dangerous torments of the conscience.) Have I remained long, through my own fault, in a state of mortal sin, exposing myself in this way to eternal damnation? Since my last confession, has my life been worthy of a true Christian, of a child who has the faith, and respects his conscience and his baptism? . . . .

And now, dear little child, may our Lord Jesus Christ guard you in His holy love; may the Blessed Virgin Mary, your good and tender Mother, lead your steps into the path of salvation, which is also the path of peace and happiness!


Prayers to be Said Before the Examination of Conscience

My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present; that Thou knowest and seest all my sins, and that Thou alone canst give me light and grace to see and know in what way I have offended Thee. Oh! dear Jesus, grant that I may examine my conscience well; that I may think of nothing which may distract me from the great duty which I am about to perform.

Mary, my dear Mother, pray for me.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of divine love.

Send forth Thy Spirit and we shall be created.

And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Our Father, Hail Mary, I believe.

Short Acts to be Said After the Examination

Behold, O dear Saviour, all the sins which I have committed since my last confession. I am sorry for them, and resolve firmly never to offend Thee again.

By Thy bitter Passion, by Thy cruel scourging, and crowning with thorns, I implore Thee to forgive Thy little child.

When I think of Thee, dear Jesus, bleeding for me upon the cross, I am very, very sorry for having caused Thee so much pain. Jesus, Lord, forgive me.

O sweet Jesus! I am sorry, and hate my sins, because they displease Thee, who art so good. Give me true sorrow, dear Saviour, and grant that I may never, never sin again.

Oh! Mary, Mother of Jesus, help me to be truly sorry for having displeased thy divine Son.

Before you enter the Confessional, say: Behold, dear Lord, I, a wicked, sinful child, come unto Thee, that I may be washed from every stain and cleansed from every sin.

After Confession

I thank and bless Thee, dear Saviour, for having pardoned me my sins. I will never more offend Thee; but for the future try to love and please Thee more and more.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and let all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all that He hath done for thee. As a father hath compassion on his children, so hath the Lord compassion on them that fear Him. (Ps. cii.) O holy Virgin Mary, and all ye angels and saints, bless and praise my dear Jesus for His great goodness to me, His little sinful child.

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! O God, be merciful to me a sinner! Sprinkle me with Thy blood, O Jesus, and I shall be made whiter than snow!

Prayer Before Saying Your Sacramental Penance

O my God, I offer this penance to Thee, in union with all the prayers said by Jesus during His holy life and bitter Passion, to satisfy Thy infinite justice, which I have offended by my many sins. Amen.

Music: God of Mercy and Compassion

God of mercy and compassion,
Look with pity upon me,
Father, let me call Thee Father,
'Tis Thy child returns to Thee.

Jesus, Lord, I ask for mercy;
Let me not implore in vain;
All my sins, I now detest them,
Never will I sin again.

By my sins I have deserved
Death and endless misery,
Hell with all its pains and torments,
And for all eternity.

Jesus, Lord, I ask for mercy;
Let me not implore in vain;
All my sins, I now detest them,
Never will I sin again.

By my sins I have abandoned
Right and claim to heav'n above.
Where the saints rejoice forever
In a boundless sea of love.

Jesus, Lord, I ask for mercy;
Let me not implore in vain;
All my sins, I now detest them,
Never will I sin again.

See our Savior, bleeding, dying,
On the cross of Calvary;
To that cross my sins have nail'd Him,
Yet He bleeds and dies for me.

Jesus, Lord, I ask for mercy;
Let me not implore in vain;
All my sins, I now detest them,
Never will I sin again.