Examining Your Conscience

Most of us don't break the Ten Commandments too often, according to the letter of the law. It's very easy to look at a list of the Ten Commandments and come to the assumption that you've gotten through the day sin-free: "I didn't kill anyone today!" "I didn't steal!" But what about the spirit? In our thoughts, words, and actions, we break the spirit of the law again and again, every day: we sin, and we sin a lot.

As you prepare for the sacrament of Holy Confession, or review the day's activities in your evening prayers, consider how you answer the following questions:

I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.

Do you put God first in your life? Do you love anyone more than God? Do you fear anyone more than Him?
Do you put God and the services and activities at your Church before social club activities, sports practices, or parties with friends?
Do you make time for prayers every day?
Do you show respect for the sacraments, and prepare for and partake in Holy Communion often?

Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image.

Do you trust a teacher or coach more than you trust God?
Do you idolize television stars or musicians?
Do you wear expensive designer-label clothes to gain status with your peers?
Do you love yourself, being a member of a certain club or clique, or the status of being a school leader (class officer, sports star, honor role) more than you love God?

Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.

Do you wish that bad or evil things might happen to another person?
Do you swear or curse at others, or use profane language when you speak?
Do you attend sťances, visit fortune tellers, or read horoscopes?
Do you play with a Ouija board? Do you read occult books or horror novels which glorify Satan and evil?

Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day.

Do you make the best effort you can to attend Vespers and Liturgy each weekend? Do you attend weekday services for feast days when you are able?
Do you say negative things about the Church, your priest, the deacons or Church School teachers? Do you pray for them?
Do you prepare for Church School and Liturgy by reading the Epistles and Gospels at home?

Honor thy father and thy mother.

Do you resent you parents or teachers? Do you grumble when they ask you do do something?
Do you say negative things about your parents or teachers to others, to make them angry?
Do you disobey your parents or teachers, or show them disrespect?
Do you pray for your parents and teachers, and help them without being asked?

Thou shalt not kill.

Do you wish that bad or evil things might happen to another person?
Do you hate or despise anyone secretly? Do you think about hurting them or seeing them hurt?
Do you provoke others to hatred with your words or actions? Do you quarrel with others, or tease them?
Do you injure others physically? Do you intentionally hurt others' feelings?
Do you abuse you body with drugs, diet, or physical activity (too much or too little)?

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Do you daydream lustfully about movie stars or other celebrities?
Do you hang up suggestive posters and magazine clippings, or look at pornography?
Do you listen to or tell dirty jokes or obscene stories?
Do you "experiment" with your girlfriend or boyfriend? Do you make love with any person who isn't your husband/wife, as blessed by the Church?

Thou shalt not steal.

Do you copy others' homework and say it is your own? Do you take more than your fair share of the credit for group projects?
Do you waste time that should be spent doing your job, chores, or homework?
Do you take things from others' bedrooms or lockers, or from stores without paying?
Do you try to return things you find to their owners?
Do you give part of your allowance or after-school earnings to the Church?

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Do you listen to or spread gossip about others?
Do you judge other people? Do you assume things about others based on their appearance or group of friends?
Do you assume people have motives for their actions without knowing for sure?
Do you "hold a grudge" against someone who has hurt you in the past?
Do you make up excuses for not doing something?
Do you make up stories or exaggerate the facts to make a real story more interesting or entertaining?
Do you lie to avoid punishment or to provoke or to mislead others?

Thou shalt not covet.

Do you envy the appearance, clothes, computer equipment, or stereo system of another person?
Do you manipulate friends or peers to get something they have?
Do you resent the respect, admiration, or approval shown to your friends by parents, teachers, or peers?
Do you feel content with the gifts God has given you, or do you always want more?
Do you give of your time, talent, and possessions to help others in your family, parish, and community, or do you hoard God's gifts?

The questions above are mostly geared toward middle- and high school students, who prepare for Holy Confession on their own. For other excellent questions for adults, see "An Examination of Conscience" in the Come to Me prayer book, pp. 166-171, published by Christ the Savior Seminary Press, 225 Chandler Avenue, Johnstown, PA 15906.

by Nichola Toda Krause

© 1998 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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