II.-EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE.
Every one knows that for a good Confession three things are necessary: an Examination of Conscience, Sorrow, and the Purpose to Avoid Sin.
As to the examination of conscience, for those that frequent the Sacraments, it is not necessary to distress the head by efforts to find out all the minute circumstances of venial sins. I would rather see such persons careful to discover the causes and roots of their attachments and tepidity. Some there are who have the same story to tell, and recite the same faults without sorrow, and without any thought of amendment.
For spiritual souls that go frequently to Confession, and guard against deliberate venial sins, it is not necessary to spend a long time in the examination of conscience. With regard to grievous sins, they need not scrutinize the conscience, for had they committed any mortal sin, they would know it without examination. With regard to venial sins, if they have been fully deliberate, they, too, by the remorse that they cause, would make themselves known to the soul. Besides, there is no obligation of confessing all our venial transgressions; consequently we are not obliged to make a strict search after them, and much less after the number, the circumstance, the manner, or the causes of them; it is enough to confess those that are most grievous, and most opposed to perfection, and to tell the rest in general terms. And when you have not certain matter for the Sacrament, tell some sin of your past life for which you have great sorrow; and say, for example: I accuse myself in a special manner of all the faults I have committed in my past life against Charity, Purity, or Obedience. How consoling is the doctrine of St. Francis de Sales on this point. “Be not troubled,” he says, if you do not remember all your little faults at Confession; for as you often fall imperceptibly, so you are often raised up imperceptibly,” that is, by the acts of love, or by the other good acts that devout souls are accustomed to perform.