For Teenagers Participating in the Sacrament
When teenagers participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, they come face to face with the mystery of God’s love. This sacrament helps them experience God’s forgiveness firsthand. Hopefully, they will come to experience Jesus’ “look of love.” How is this love of God manifested?
1. Teenagers experience the freedom that comes from bringing their sin into the light of Christ (cf. Jn 3: 20-21). Everything inside a young person can cry out: “I don’t want to go to confession!” This struggle is not unique to teenagers; it is common to everyone who has endeavored to bring his sin to the light. To speak openly about our sin grates on our fallen nature. Nonetheless, the Sacrament of Reconciliation enables all of us (including teenagers) to come safely into the light of Christ’s truth and experience his forgiveness. For young people it is the opportunity to experience freedom from nagging guilt and embarrassment. They are surely blessed by the cleansing of the Holy Spirit leading to an inner sense of peace. Hopefully, they will know the reality of St. John’s words: “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin… If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn 1:7-9).
2. The Sacrament of Reconciliation helps young adults to grasp that they are responsible for their lives, for how they think and act. They are obliged to examine how their words and actions have hurt and offended others, and how their lives do or do not reflect God’s standards. This sacrament forces them to see that they are not isolated individuals but members of the body of Christ and the human family. Their sin injures that body and violates the integrity of others. The Sacrament of Reconciliation accentuates the communal nature of our sinfulness and reconciliation.
3. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation Jesus pours out the Holy Spirit, empowering young people to live holy lives. John’s words to young people can become a reality. He exhorted them: “I am writing to you, young people, because you have conquered the evil one… I write to you, young people, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 Jn 2:13-14).
Through the actions of Jesus, by the power of his Spirit, young men and women can conquer sin in their lives. Jesus breaks the hold Satan has gained over them through the lust of their eyes and the pride of life (cf. 1 Jn 2:16). We should not underestimate the spiritual effect that regular participation in this sacrament can have on teenagers.
4. By participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, young people implicitly, if not explicitly, recommit their lives to the Gospel. The teenager is saying, “I want to turn away from sin. I want to strive once more to live by God’s commands, I want to live under his authority. I desire the power and life of Jesus’ Holy Spirit to be active in my life.” Obviously, young people, like all of us, may fail and sin again; nevertheless, rededication is essential for spiritual growth. Jesus is pleased when we renew our commitment to him and to his Gospel.
A Teenager's Examination of Conscience
Set aside some quiet time for reflection.
Start by praying to the Holy Spirit, asking for help in making a good examination to prepare for Confession.
Read through the items on this list and honestly reflect on your behavior for each item.
If necessary, take this list or some brief notes (keep them private!) to Confession to help you remember things.
An examination of conscience especially pertinent to teenagers.
1. You shall have no other gods besides the Lord your God.
Do I love God above all things? Is He number one in my life or do I put myself before God?
Has money and pleasure become more important to
me than the God who created me for Himself?
Do I pray often? Have I neglected my friendship with
God by neglecting prayer?
Have I been involved with occult or superstitious
practices, i.e., fortune telling?
Have I ever received Holy Communion in the state of
Have I told a lie in confession or deliberately
withheld confessing a mortal sin?
2. You shall not take the Lord your God's name in vain.
Have I ever committed perjury, that is, lied under oath in a court of law?
Have I ever lied after "swearing to God" that I am telling the truth?
Have I ever used God's name out of anger, that is, as a curse?
3. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Have I deliberately missed Holy Mass on the Sabbath (Saturday evening through
Have I ever missed Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation or an important holiday in
the liturgical calendar (i.e., Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday,
Christmas, Mary the Mother of God, etc.)?
4. Honour your father and your mother so that you may live long and flourish.
Do I disobey my parents?
Do I fail to respect them?
Do I swear at them?
Am I ashamed of them?
Do I let them know I love them?
Do I lie to them?
Do I steal from them?
Am I obeying and honouring those in place of my parents, such as teachers and
Do I skip class?
Do I lie to my teachers?
Do I swear at them?
5. You shall not kill.
Am I killing myself by taking illegal drugs, such as marijuana?
Have I had an abortion?
Have I ever counselled anyone to have an abortion?
Do I stand up for the unborn child's right to life, or have I merely accepted
society's anti-life mentality?
Have I used abortifacient contraceptives or encouraged anyone to do so?
Have I sterilized myself in any way or encouraged anyone to do so?
Did I participate in or approve of euthanasia or "mercy-killing"?
Have I murdered anyone's reputation by deliberately spreading rumours or
keeping rumours alive by passing them on?
Do I nurse anger against anyone?
Hold a grudge?
Refuse to forgive another?
Have I cursed anyone?
6. You shall not commit adultery.
Have I ever had sex with anyone?
Have I had sex with myself?
Have I ever watched pornography either on the Internet or through some other
Have I ever freely and deliberately entertained impure thoughts?
Have I practiced any form of contraception?
Am I modest in dress?
7. You shall not steal.
Do I steal from my parents?
Do I steal from friends?
Have I ever stolen from a stranger?
Have I stolen any property from a store?
In other words, have I ever taken what rightfully belongs to another?
Do I gamble excessively?
Do I seek to share what I have with the poor and needy?
8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.
Am I a liar?
Am I guilty of detraction, that is, making known the faults of others?
Am I guilty of slander, that is, spreading lies about someone?
Do I gossip about others?
Do I reveal information that should be confidential?
Am I "two-faced", that is, have I been a certain kind of person to some people,
but a completely different kind of person to others?
9. & 10. You shall not envy your neighbour's wife and goods.
Am I envious of others?
Do I wish that others be deprived of the goods or talents that are theirs?
Am I jealous of others?
Do I harbour unforgiveness and grudges against others?
Am I a resentful person?
Do I put down others?