A Note to Parents of Teens Celebrating Penance

Very often, teens celebrate the sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation while attending a retreat.  Many times, the examination of conscience may be read aloud by a retreat director, a priest or another reader while the participants silently reflect.  It may also be used as a private prayer for preparation by the individual.  An examination of conscience helps one reflect on their relationship with God, and with other people.

Preparing for the celebration of this sacrament of healing is often misunderstood.  People frequently view it as recitation of a laundry list of mistakes they have made, instead of as an opportunity to talk about what is troubling their hearts, about who they are, and about the changes they would like to make in their lives.  The sacrament offers us that chance to speak and pray with someone (a priest) who can help us with that task.

In quiet reflection, through an Examination of Conscience, we ask: "What do I do well?", "What do I want to change about myself?", and "How do I want God to transform me?"

Sample Examination of Conscience for Teens:

1. Responsibilities to God:

Have I gone to Mass on Sunday or have I rebelled and been stubborn about going to Mass?
Did I participate in the Mass or did I daydream?
Have I prayed every day?
Have I read the Bible?
Have I been rebellious toward God and his commands?
Have I misused the name of God by swearing and cursing?
Have I told God that I love Him for creating me and making me his son/daughter?
Have I thanked Jesus for becoming man, dying for my sin and rising to give me eternal life?
Have I asked the Holy Spirit to help me conquer sin and temptation and to be obedient to God’s commands?

2. Responsibilities to others & myself:

Have I been rebellious, disobedient or disrespectful to my parents, teachers and those in authority over me?
Have I lied to or deceived my parents or others?
Have I been arrogant and stubborn?
Have I talked back to my parents or those in authority?
Have I gotten angry or nurtured and held grudges and resentments? Have I refused to forgive others? Have I cultivated hatred?
Have I engaged in sexual fantasies? Have I looked at others lustfully?
Have I read pornographic literature or looked at pornographic pictures, shows or movies?
Have I lustfully kissed or sexually touched someone? Have I had sexual intercourse?
Have I had an abortion or encouraged another to have one?
Have I gossiped about others? Have I slandered anyone? Have I told lies about others? Have I mocked or made fun of others?
Have I lied or cheated? Have I stolen anything? Have I paid it back?
Have I been selfish or spiteful toward others? Have I been jealous?
Have I gotten drunk, or taken drugs?
Have I participated in anything that is of the occult: ouija boards, fortune tellers, séances, channeling, astrology?
Have I been patient, kind, gentle and self-controlled?
When my conscience told me to do something good, did I do it or did I ignore it?

Copyright, Fr. Thomas Weinandy. This sample examen may be reproduced and distributed free of charge by permission of the author