An extract from 'The Holy Eucharist by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori'
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Examination of Conscience.
We ought to represent confession to ourselves as the last one of our life, and dispose ourselves to make it as one would do who is at the point of death. We should ask God for the grace to make well the examination of conscience, and for the necessary light to know well our sins. Hence let us recite the Veni Creator Spiritus.
O Father of lights! who enlightenest every man that comes into the world, send into my heart a ray of light, of love, and of sorrow, that I may know, detest, and confess the sins which I have committed against Thee.
Prayer before the Examination of Conscience.
Mother of my God, who art so charitable to sinners that desire to repent, assist me by thy intercession. My guardian angel, who hast been a spectator of all my crimes, help me to discover the sins which I have committed against my God. All ye saints of heaven, pray for me, that I may bring forth fruits of penance. Amen.
Offering of the Examination.
Jesus, my God and Saviour, I offer Thee the examination which I am going to make, that Thy divine justice may be glorified in it. I look to Thee with confidence for the grace to do it well. Thus, therefore, in the spirit of charity, in order to please Thee, and to accomplish Thy holy will, together with every intention that can procure Thee the greatest honor and glory, I undertake it.
Here the penitent must begin the examination of his conscience. But it must be observed by persons of a timorous disposition, who often approach the sacraments, that their examination ought to be short and unaccompanied with disquietude and scrupulosity. It is sufficient for persons of this description to take a momentary view of the faults into which they are accustomed to fall, and then principally to apply themselves to acts of devotion and contrition, which are always the most essential dispositions for this sacrament, and from which they may easily suffer their minds to be diverted by yielding to fears and anxiety. As for those who seldom approach the sacrament, it is their duty to employ sufficient time to make a diligent examination of their consciences, and to call to mind as nearly as possible, by reading over leisurely and attentively the commandments of God and of the Church, together with the seven capital sins, the duties of their state of life and see in what they have failed in thought, word, or deed. If they cannot call to mind the precise number of their sins, they must consider how often in the day or week they have sinned in each particular kind, and their confession of them in this manner will satisfy the divine justice, which never obliges us to do what is morally impossible.
We should take care to examine ourselves especially about the fault to which we are inclined, and about the means that we should adopt to amend ourselves.