Indulgences Explained

My parish had a parish mission last week, and our pastor wanted to advertise that there was a plenary indulgence that one could gain from attending the mission, so he asked me to write an explanation of indulgences for the parish. From what I wrote, he streamlined it down to a few bullet points (I tend to be a bit verbose, if you hadn’t already noticed).

For my draft, I looked at Catholic Answers’ Primer on Indulgences, and Jimmy Akin’s article How to Gain an Indulgence, and tried to combine them and make the piece a little more reader-friendly for people who don’t have much knowledge of the faith.
Indulgences Explained
A lot of misinformation is given about indulgences and the Catholic Church. The Church never “got rid” of indulgences. At the Council of Trent (session 25), the Church infallibly defined indulgences as a valid part of the faith, condemning the beliefs that a) indulgences are useless and b) the Church doesn’t have the power to grant them. Both of those are false, and Catholics are not permitted to spread them. So what are indulgences? Hopefully the following will help answer that question:
The results of sin: guilt and punishment:
When we sin, we incur guilt: “When a man or woman commits sins, that person is guilty.” (cf. Numbers 5:6) We have broken our relationship with God and other people. We also incur punishment relative to the offense we committed: “I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 21:14) Punishment is meant to correct us so that we recognize the evil we have committed and convert to doing good in the future. “Be afraid of the sword, for wrath brings the punishment of the sword, that you may know there is a judgment.” (Job 19:29) It is important to remember that we bring these punishments on ourselves. God wants all of us to be with Him; He wants us to do good. God is not trying to trap us into doing evil. His punishments reprimand us for our bad deeds. If we humbly accept our just punishments, they will help us to act rightly in the future. God can reduce someone’s punishment, and He does so through indulgences.
Punishments are of two types: Temporal and Eternal:
Depending on the severity of our sins, our punishment will be more or less severe. Eternal punishment is Hell–being separated from God forever. Hell is the punishment for people who commit mortal (serious, grave) sins and do not repent from them. “They will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46) It is connected to the guilt of the sin, and it is forgiven through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There are also temporal punishments (punishments that will end): “The punishment of your iniquity, O daughter of Zion, is accomplished; He will keep you in exile no longer.” (Lamentations 4:22) Indulgences affect temporal punishments.
Forgiveness removes guilt, but not all punishment:
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we confess our sins to God through His priest. When we are forgiven, our guilt is completely removed: “I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’; then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:1) The punishment, however, remains. Moses is a good example of this. God forgave Moses’ guilt, but He still punished Moses by not allowing him to live long enough to enter the Promised Land. (Numbers 20:12) Death itself is a punishment that comes from sin. (Genesis 3:22-24; Romans 5:12) Even though we are forgiven of sins through the sacraments, we will still die. If I were to go to Confession for stealing someone’s car, I would be forgiven of the guilt, but I would still have the car that is someone else’s property. We all recognize that I must (at least) restore the stolen property. The same goes for all sins. There are temporal effects of our sins and through our punishment we restore them. Less objective sins like gossip, sloth, lust, etc. are much harder to restore.  Therefore, God disciplines us through other punishments. God gave us the sacraments to remove our guilt and He allows us indulgences to reduce our punishments.
God allows us to do good in order to take away the punishment of others:
Just like Jesus died on the cross for all of us, so we can unite our little sacrifices to Him for the benefit of others. Similarly, God was ready to take away the punishment of Sodom if Abraham could find enough righteous men. (Genesis 18:16-33) Also, Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic man because he saw the faith of the man’s friends. (Matthew 9:2) God allows us to gain indulgences not just for ourselves, but also to help others.
God works through His Church:
Just as we receive the sacraments from God through His Church, so also God offers us indulgences through the Church. The penance given in the Sacrament of Reconciliation has been given since its foundation because the Church recognized that restitution needed to be made. The sinner needed to do something to amend the situation beyond being forgiven of the guilt. The Church alone has the authority to grant indulgences.
“In the early Church, penances were sometimes severe. For serious sins, such as apostasy, murder, and abortion, the penances could stretch over years, but the Church recognized that repentant sinners could shorten their penances by pleasing God through pious or charitable acts that expressed sorrow and a desire to make up for one’s sin . . . If Christ gave his ministers the ability to forgive the eternal penalty of sin, how much more would they be able to remit the temporal penalties of sin! Christ also promised his Church the power to bind and loose on earth, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ (Matt. 18:18). As the context makes clear, binding and loosing cover Church discipline, and Church discipline involves administering and removing temporal penalties (such as barring from and readmitting to the sacraments). Therefore, the power of binding and loosing includes the administration of temporal penalties.”
Indulgences can be applied to the dead:
If we die with punishments unfulfilled, we cannot yet enter Heaven: “Nothing unclean shall enter [Heaven].” (Revelation 21:27) Because of that, we must be cleansed of any leftover temporal punishments before entering Heaven. That is what Purgatory does—it “purges” us of any leftover guilt and punishment. The purification that happens in Purgatory is often likened to fire, purifying precious metal: “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:15) We can offer indulgences for the sake of those who are in Purgatory (so that their purgation may be swifter and their entrance into Heaven sooner/easier).
An example of this is Judas Maccabeus who, after a battle, gathered his soldiers’ dead bodies and found that all of the slain soldiers were wearing superstitious amulets (an great offense against God because we must put our trust in Him alone, not in superstitions). 
[Judas and his people] turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out. And the noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened because of the sin of those who had fallen. He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin. (2 Maccabees 12:42-45)
Certainly when it comes to the eternal effects of our sins, only Christ can make amends or reparation. Only he was able to pay the infinite price necessary to cover our sins. We are completely unable to do so, not only because we are finite creatures incapable of making an infinite satisfaction, but because everything we have was given to us by God. For us to try to satisfy God’s eternal justice would be like using money we had borrowed from someone to repay what we had stolen from him. No actual satisfaction would be made (cf. Ps. 49:7-9, Rom. 11:35). This does not mean we can’t make amends or reparation for the temporal effects of our sins. If someone steals an item, he can return it. If someone damages another’s reputation, he can publicly correct the slander. When someone destroys a piece of property, he can compensate the owner for its loss. All these are ways in which one can make at least partial amends for what he has done.
An excellent biblical illustration of this principle is given in Proverbs 16:6, which states: ‘By loving kindness and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil’ (cf. Lev. 6:1-7; Num. 5:5-8). Here we are told that a person makes temporal atonement (though never eternal atonement, which only Christ is capable of doing) for his sins through acts of loving kindness and faithfulness.
How to gain an indulgence:
To gain any indulgence you must be a Catholic in a state of grace. You must be a Catholic in order to be under the Church’s jurisdiction, and you must be in a state of grace because apart from God’s grace none of your actions are fundamentally pleasing to God (meritorious). You also must have at least the habitual intention of gaining an indulgence by the act performed.

To gain a partial indulgence, you must perform with a contrite heart the act to which the indulgence is attached.

To gain a plenary indulgence [full cleansing from all punishments] you must perform the act with a contrite heart, plus you must go to confession [within a short period of time—around 8 days] (one confession may suffice for several plenary indulgences), receive Holy Communion, and pray for the pope’s intentions. (An Our Father and a Hail Mary said for the pope’s intentions are sufficient, although you are free to substitute other prayers of your own choosing.) The final condition is that you must be free from all attachment to sin, including venial sin. 
Because of the extreme difficulty in meeting the final condition, plenary indulgences are rarely obtained. If you attempt to receive a plenary indulgence, but are unable to meet the last condition, a partial indulgence is received instead.

The Role of Catholic Parents

Back on February 8th, I gave a talk to the parents of students who were preparing to receive 1st Communion or Confirmation. The first part of the talk was just about the requirements that our specific parish has for kids to receive the sacraments. The second part of the talk, was about the role of Catholic parents. Below is a recording of the second part of the talk.
We also gave the parents a handout with a bunch of quotes so that they could follow along. The text of the handout is below the video:

Holy Communion & Confirmation: The Beginnings of Life in the Church
“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” John 6:56
“On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” John 14:20
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:1-4
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Gal. 2:20
Precepts of the Church
–“meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor.” [CCC 2041]

I. Attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation (even if you cannot receive Holy Communion) and rest from servile labor on those days–keep them holy.
  1.   Show your children (by your behavior) that Mass is VERY important.
    1. Respect for the Nave (not a social hall)
    2. Our demeanor changes to show how holiness of this space.
    3. Stop all socializing when entering the church
    4. Focus on God/prayer
    5. Fast before receiving Communion–Eat nothing (except water and medicine as needed) for an hour before receiving Holy Communion–shows respect for our Lord.
    6. Learn about how Mass is a sacrifice, offered by the priest, and how we unite with that sacrifice with our minds (during the offering) and bodies (in Holy Communion)–this is what Mass is about.
    II. Go to Confession at least once/year

    III. Receive Holy Communion at least once during the Easter Season.

    IV. Observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
    1. Prepares us for feasts
    2. Helps us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.
    3. Fasting – eating less than two full meals in one day (Ash Wednesday & Good Friday)
      1. All Catholics 18-59
      2. No eating between meals
      3. Regular liquids are fine
    4. Abstinence – not eating the meat of warm blooded animals (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc.–fish and other cold-blooded animals may be eaten).
      1. All Catholics 14+
      2. Every Friday of the year
      3. In the US, outside of Lent, we can substitute some other comparable penance instead of abstaining, but we still must perform SOME penance.

    V. Help to provide for the material needs of the Church.

    1. Each according to his ability
      1. “And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:44-47)
      2. “He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:41-44)
      3. Tithing (giving 10% of your income to the Church)
        1.  Jacob to God: “Of all that You give me I will give the tenth to You.” (Genesis 28:22)
        2. “All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD’s; it is holy to the LORD. If a man wishes to redeem any of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. And all the tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the LORD.” (Leviticus 27:30-32)
        3. “You shall tithe all the yield of your seed, which comes forth from the field year by year . . . And if the journey to the priest is too far to carry seed . . . then you shall turn the seed into money” (cf. Deuteronomy  14:22-25)
        4. “As soon as the command was spread abroad, the people of Israel gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything. And the people of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of cattle and sheep, and the dedicated things which had been consecrated to the LORD their God, and laid them in heaps.” (2 Chronicles 31:5-6)
        5. “Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses.” (Nehemiah 13:2)
        6. “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, `How are we robbing thee?’ In your tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me; the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.” (Malachi 3:8-10)
        7. “With every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe with gladness.” (Sirach 35:9)
        8. Offering your time to help out with Church events/projects
        9. Ask yourself:
          1. “What does the Church need?”
          2. “What gifts/talents has the Lord given me to build up the Church?”
        Parents’ Roles in the Education of Their Children
        “Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators. This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbor. Here, too, they find their first experience of a wholesome human society and of the Church. Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually led to a companionship with their fellowmen and with the people of God. Let parents, then, recognize the inestimable importance a truly Christian family has for the life and progress of God’s own people.” (Declaration on Christian Education 3)
        “All members of the family, each according to his or her own gift, have the grace and responsibility of building, day by day, the communion of persons, making the family “a school of deeper humanity”: this happens where there is care and love for the little ones, the sick, the aged; where there is mutual service every day; when there is a sharing of goods, of joys and of sorrows.
        A fundamental opportunity for building such a communion is constituted by the educational exchange between parents and children, in which each gives and receives. By means of love, respect and obedience towards their parents, children offer their specific and irreplaceable contribution to the construction of an authentically human and Christian family. They will be aided in this if parents exercise their unrenounceable authority as a true and proper “ministry,” that is, as a service to the human and Christian well-being of their children, and in particular as a service aimed at helping them acquire a truly responsible freedom, and if parents maintain a living awareness of the “gift” they continually receive from their children.
        Family communion can only be preserved and perfected through a great spirit of sacrifice. It requires, in fact, a ready and generous openness of each and all to understanding, to forbearance, to pardon, to reconciliation. There is no family that does not know how selfishness, discord, tension and conflict violently attack and at times mortally wound its own communion: hence there arise the many and varied forms of division in family life. But, at the same time, every family is called by the God of peace to have the joyous and renewing experience of “reconciliation,” that is, communion reestablished, unity restored. In particular, participation in the sacrament of Reconciliation and in the banquet of the one Body of Christ offers to the Christian family the grace and the responsibility of overcoming every division and of moving towards the fullness of communion willed by God, responding in this way to the ardent desire of the Lord: ‘that they may be one.’” (Familiaris Consortio 21)
        [UPDATE – Below is the Examination of Conscience that I handed out.]

        Examination of Conscience
        Below is a list of questions about sin.
        It is not exhaustive, but it will help you examine your conscience.
        1. You shall have no other gods besides the Lord your God.
        • Do I love God with my whole life, above all things?
        • Is He number one in my life or do I put myself before God?
        • Has money and/or pleasure become more important to me than God?
        • Do I pray every day, even when I don’t want to?
        • Have I read or listened to a bit of the Bible every day?
        • Have I neglected my friendship with God by neglecting prayer?
        • Have I been involved with occult or superstitious practices, i.e., good luck charms, fortune telling, Ouija boards, horoscopes, tarot cards, séances, channeling, astrology, etc.?
        • Have I been involved in the New Age, Yoga, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any other Eastern philoso-phies/theologies?
        • Have I been involved in any other false or pagan worship?
        • Have I ever received Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin?
        • Have I told a lie in confession or deliberately withheld confessing a mortal sin?
        • Do I genuflect to the tabernacle when I enter a Catholic church?
        • Am I respectful when other people are praying or have I tried to distract them?
        • Have I told the Father 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 com-mands?
        • Have I been rebellious toward God and his commands?
        • Have I left the Church? (This is the sin of apostasy.)
        • Have I ever rejected any part of the Catholic faith?
        • Have I joined the Masons or another secret society?
        • Have I gotten married by a justice of the peace or another non-Catholic minister (without first getting the bishop’s dispensation)?
        • Have I ever desecrated the Holy Eucharist?
        • Have I ever committed a sin with the excuse that “I can just go to confession to get rid of it”? (This is the sin of presumption—sinning because you are presuming on God’s mercy—basically taking advantage of the Mercy that God offers you.)
        2. You shall not take the Lord your God’s name in vain.
        • Have I ever lied after “swearing to God” that I am telling the truth?
             o Have I ever committed perjury (lied under oath in a court of law)?
        • Have I ever used God’s name out of anger, as a curse?
        • Have I ever used any other curse words?
        • Do I always try to show respect to God during prayers, in the church, and when I use His name?
        • Do I say “Oh my goodness!” (or something else) instead of taking God’s name in vain by saying “Oh my God!”
        • Do I ever say “Jesus” and/or “Christ” in a way that does not honor God?
        3. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
        • Have I deliberately missed Holy Mass on the Christian Sabbath (Saturday evening through Sunday)?
        • Have I ever missed Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation?
             o January 1- Mary, Mother of God (unless it’s on a Saturday or Monday)
              Ascension Thursday is moved to Sunday in this diocese
             o August 15 – Assumption of Mary (unless it’s on a Saturday or Monday)
             o November 1 – All Saints (unless it’s on a Saturday or Monday)
              December 8 – the Immaculate Conception of Mary
              December 25 – the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas)
        • Have I willingly gone to Mass on Sunday, or have I rebelled and been stubborn about going to Mass?
        • Did I participate in the Mass (consciously unite myself to the sacrifice) or did I daydream?
        • Am I quiet when I am in the church, especially before, during, and after Mass?
        • Did I try to honor God in a special way on every Sunday and Holy Day by going to Mass and making the day special?
        • Do I try to rest on Sundays and Holy Days and avoid doing physical labor?
        4. Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long and flourish.
        For Children:
        • Do I obey my parents?
        • Do I always speak with respect to my parents, never yelling at them nor speaking unkindly to them?
             o Do I swear at them?
             o Do I lie to them?
             o Do I talk back rudely to them?
             o Do I steal from them?
             o Am I ashamed of them?
             o Do I let them know I love them?
        • Do I help my parents around the house without being asked?
             o Do I respond the first time when my parents ask me to do something?
        • Have I tried to follow rules/laws in my home, classroom, state, country, etc.?
        • Do I obey and honor those in place of my parents, such as teachers and principals?
             o Do I skip class?
             o Do I lie to my teachers?
             o Do I talk disrespectfully to my teachers?
             o Do I swear at them or talk back rudely to them?
             o Do I work as hard as I should on my lessons?
             o Do I try my best on my schoolwork?
        For Parents:
        • Do I abuse or neglect my children?
        • Have I failed to baptize my children within a few months after their births?
        • Have I neglected to teach my children the Catholic faith?
        • Have I failed to live out the Catholic lifestyle so as to pass the faith on to my kids?
        • Have I neglected to learn the Catholic faith to the best of my ability so that I can better pass it on to my kids?
        5. You shall not kill.
        • Have I murdered anyone?
        • Am I killing myself by taking illegal drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroine, etc.?
        • Am I killing myself by abusing alcohol?
             o If I’m not old enough to legally drink, have I abstained from drinking?
             o Have I ever gotten drunk?
        • Have I had an abortion? (“Selective reduction” of babies in the womb from in-vitro fertilization counts as abortion.)
        • Have I ever encouraged 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 knowingly voted for a politician who tolerates abortion (“pro-choice” = “pro-abortion”) when there was a pro-life politician available to vote for?
        • Have I used the birth control pill to avoid pregnancy (which causes abortions if it fails to prevent fertiliza-tion)?
             o Have I encouraged anyone else to use the pill?
        • Have I sterilized myself in any way or encouraged anyone else to do so?
        • Did I participate in or approve of euthanasia or “mercy-killing” of a human being?
        • Have I killed anyone’s reputation by deliberately spreading rumors or keeping rumors alive by passing them on?
             o Have I gossiped about others?
        • Do I nurse anger against anyone (hold a grudge, refuse to forgive)?
        • Have I cursed anyone?
        • Have I started a fight with anyone at home, school or elsewhere (defending yourself is okay)?
        • Have I bullied anyone, made fun of them, mocked them, or called them names?
        • Have I tried to get others to do things that are wrong?
        • Have I watched things on TV, in movies, or on the computer that would not be pleasing to God?
        • Have I driven drunk or under the influence of any other substance that is dangerous to mix with driving (even if I didn’t cause any damage)?
        • Have I driven dangerously (even if I didn’t cause any damage)?
        • Have I mutilated myself (cutting, excessive tattoos or body piercing, etc.)?
        • Have I seriously entertained suicidal thoughts?
        • Have I attempted suicide?
        • Have I failed to bury the dead? (“Spreading ashes” is not allowed in the Catholic Church—because it is seen as a denial of the resurrection of the body—the belief that God will raise our bodies and reunite them with our souls at the end of time.)
        • Have I intentionally placed temptation before people who were weak to such temptations?
        • Have I been a bigot (hated people because of their race)?
        • Have I been involved in or supported human cloning?
        6. You shall not commit adultery.
        • Have I ever had sex with anyone (or anything) who is not my spouse?
        • Have I masturbated (sexually stimulated myself)?
        • Have I ever watched, read or listened to pornography either on the Internet or through some other media?
        • Have I ever freely and deliberately entertained impure thoughts, sexual fantasies, etc.?
        • Have I practiced any form of contraception (condom, pill, IUD, spermacide, Onanism, etc.)?
        • Am I modest in dress?
             o Do I cover the parts of me that only my spouse should see?
             o Do I try to gain people’s attention by uncovering parts of my body?
        • Have I looked at others lustfully (desiring to use them for sexual gratification)? (Thinking of giving oneself to one’s spouse in the marital act is good, but desiring to use anyone, even a spouse, simply as a sexual ob-ject is bad.)
        • Have I sexually kissed or touched someone who wasn’t my spouse?
        • Have I participated in in-vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, or surrogate motherhood?
        • Have I been involved in types of fertility testing that involve immoral acts (masturbation, etc.)?
        • Have I willfully divorced or deserted someone to whom I know I was validly married? (If a situation be-comes dangerous, it is permissible for a spouse to separate, but if the marriage was valid, it is a sin to di-vorce.)
        • Have I had multiple spouses at once (polygamy/polyandry)?
        • Have I cohabited (lived together) with someone of the opposite sex who wasn’t my spouse? (It is sinful for engaged couples to live together before they are married.)
        7. You shall not steal.
        • Have I stolen from my parents?
        • Have I stolen from friends?
        • Have I ever stolen from a stranger?
        • Have I stolen anything from a store?
        • In other words, have I ever taken what rightfully belongs to another?
        • Do I respect what other people own by not taking what is not mine?
        • Do I gamble excessively (more than what I could comfortably afford to lose)?
        • Do I seek to share what I have with the poor and needy?
        • Am I honest at school or have I cheated on a test or my homework (stealing someone else’s work)?
        • When I borrow things, do I intend to return all of them? Do I return them?
        • Do I respect people’s possessions, including my own?
             o Do I treat my possessions well?
             o Do I treat others’ things well?
             o Have I done anything bad to another’s property like littering or writing on walls, desks or other things that aren’t mine?
        • Have I stolen computer software, music or any other media? (All media that isn’t freely offered to the pub-lic must be purchased. Otherwise, we’re stealing from the people who produce the media.)
        • Have I padded my expense or per diem account(s)?
        • Have I taken advantage of the poor, simple, inexperienced, or less fortunate?
        • Have I denied help to the poor when I could easily help them?
        • Have I defrauded creditors or cheated on my taxes?
        • Have I bribed anyone or taken a bribe?
        • Have I blackmailed anyone?
        • Have I committed fraud, embezzlement, price fixing, tax evasion, forgery, etc.?
        • Have I excessively wasted anything God has given me (food, money, time, etc.)?
        8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
        • Am I a liar?
        • Am I guilty of detraction (making known the faults of others without serious reason)?
        • Am I guilty of slander (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?
        • Did I tell the truth, even when it was hard to do so–even when I might have gotten in trouble?
        • Do my words positively affect people?
        • Have I hurt people with lies or by talking about their faults?
        • Have I talked about people behind their backs?
        • Have I hurt people by making fun of them?
        • Have I cheated in work, play, or any other activity?
        9. & 10. You shall not envy your neighbor’s wife and goods.
        • Am I envious of others? (Am I sad when good things happen to them or when they do well?)
        • Do I wish that others would be deprived of the goods or talents that are theirs?
        • Am I jealous of others? (Do I wish I had their stuff instead of them?)
        • Am I a resentful person?
        • Do I thank God for what I have or do I wish for what others have?
             o Am I grateful for what I have or do I complain about it?
             o Am I grateful for how much I have or do I ask for more?
             o Am I thankful to our Lord for Confession–the special opportunity to say I am sorry and be for-given?
        Other general sins that could fit into various places above:
        • Have I been selfish or spiteful toward others?
        • Have I been prideful?
             o Have I loved myself too much?
             o Have I not wanted to let go of my hopes in order to allow for what God/others want?
             o Have I been unwilling to admit when I’m wrong?
        • 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?