A Guide to Confession Based on the 7 Capital Sins

Young priest in confession booth.
The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father.—Pope Francis

Seven Capital / Deadly Sins

Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose or also be linked to the CAPITAL SINS which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called "CAPITAL" because they engender other SINS, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia* —Catechism of the Catholic Church 1866


Pride is the mother of all sin. It is a craving for excellence beyond what is reasonable. It makes a person hate being equal to others, and hate being less than God.

"Jesus, help me overcome the sin of pride. More than any sin, pride putting myself ahead of you and others keeps me far from you."

  • Have I refused to admit my own weaknesses?
  • Have I dwelt on the failings of others?
  • Have I judged others, in my thoughts of words?
  • Have I ranked myself better than others?
  • Have I refused to learn from others?
  • Have I been stubborn? Refused to admit I was wrong?
  • Refused to accept that another person had a better idea?
  • Have I been arrogant?
  • Have I neglected to use the talents that God has given me?
  • Have I lied or exaggerated to make myself look good?
  • Have I wasted undue time and money on clothes and appearance?


Lust is disordered desire for procreative and unitive purpose.

"God, sexual temptation is everywhere. Please give me the grace to overcome the sin of lust and impurity. Give me Your eyes, give me Your heart so I no longer see people as objects but as deserving of love."

  • Have I viewed other people as mere objects rather than as persons to be loved?
  • Have I looked at pornography?
  • Have I entertained impure thoughts?
  • Have I masturbated?
  • Have I engaged in sexual activity outside marriage?


Laziness, especially laziness in the things of God. Sloth is a sorrow in the face of spiritual good — it makes a person lethargic and wants to do nothing.

"Father, at times I can be so lazy, so distracted. Help me to overcome the sin of sloth. I need your help not only in living up to my responsibilities at school, office and with my family, but I need your help in actively seeking You."

  • Have I sought God above else, or have I put other priorities ahead of Him? (romantic relationship, family, friends, comfort, and ease, etc,)
  • Have I got so caught up in things of this world that I've forgotten God?
  • Have I risked losing my faith by bad company, bad reading, cowardice or pride?
  • Have I trusted God, especially in times of difficulty?
  • I attended Mass each and every Sunday?
  • Do I seek to grow in my relationship with God by praying every day?
  • Have I entertained distractions in prayer, or in prayer or in the Mass?
  • Have I taken the Lord's name in vain? Or used other foul languages?
  • Have I been lazy in helping others?
  • Have I been more focused on myself than on the needs of others?
  • Have I wasted time needlessly? Especially with TV or the internet?


Envy is sadness at the happiness of another.

Jealousy is coveting what belongs to another.

"Lord Jesus, it is so easy to become jealous of what others have. Help me overcome the sin of envy so that I am satisfied with what you have given me and I use it for Your glory."

  • Have I envied or been jealous of the abilities, talents, ideas, appearance, intelligence, clothes, possessions, money, friends, family of another?
  • Have I damaged the reputation of another person by my words, attitude, or looks?
  • Have I repeated accusations that might not be true? Have I exaggerated?
  • Have I failed to defend the reputation of others?


Avarice/Covetousness/Greed is the excessive love of possessing things.

"Holy Spirit, we live in a world that tells us that happiness can be bought. Help me overcome the sin of greed and materialism, Help me to realize that nothing in this world can fulfill my hearts desires like you can."

  • Have I been overly concerned about my own comfort and well-being?
  • Have I been resentful of my lack of money?
  • Have I been generous in giving? Have I given a cheerful heart?
  • Have I cheated or stolen?
  • Have used people for my own ends and advantage?
  • Have I wasted money?


Anger is an undue desire for vengeance — undue in the cause or in amount.

"Heavenly Father, I need your help to overcome my anger, my frustration, my resentment. When I am hurt, and when I am wrong. Help me forgive."

  • Have I been resentful, held grudges?
  • Have I nurtured imaginary angry conversations?
  • Have I been slow to forgive?
  • Have I lost my temper?
  • Have I been impatient with people, family, events, sufferings, sicknesses?
  • Have I failed secrets?


Gluttony is the inordinate desire for food or drinks.

"God, help me overcome the sin of gluttony and over-indulgence. I need Your Spirit to help me grow in self-control."

  • Have I eaten more than I need?
  • Have I drunk alcohol excessively?
  • Have I eaten greedily and with little consideration for the presence and needs of those at the table with me?
  • Have I always fasted an hour before receiving the Holy Communion at Mass?
  • Have I driven after drinking?
  • have I given money to help the hungry?
  • Have I regularly practiced fasting and self-denial, especially on Fridays?

Adapted from "Examination of Conscience based on the 7 Deadly Sins" by Fr. Dylan James

Outline for Making a Good Confession

  1. The priest gives a blessing or greeting.
  2. Make the Sign of the Cross and say: "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. My last Confession was..." (6 give weeks, months or years)
  3. Confess all your sins to the priest. (if you are unsure or uneasy, tell him and ask for help)
  4. Once you have finished confessing all the sins that you can remember you can end by saying: "I am sorry for all these my sins and for any that I cannot now remember."
  5. The priest offers advice to help you become a better Catholic and then gives the penance.
  6. Say an Act of Contrition (see below), expressing your sorrow for your sins.
  7. The priests, acting in the person of Christ, then absolve you from your sins. Make the Sign of the Cross when the priest says, "... I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Amen.

Act of Contrition

O MY GOD, I am heartily sorry for having offended You. And I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell; but most of all because I offended You, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen.

After Confession

The priest asked you to say some prayers for your penance, you should say them now while you are still in the church. Otherwise, try to do your penance as soon as you can. After your penance is done say a prayer to God for forgiving your sins. This is a new beginning. The past has all been forgiven. Think about some of the situations where you know it will be hard to do the right thing and ask God to be with you there. You might find this prayer helpful.

"O God, I thank You for forgiving me my sins. I will try now to love You with all my heart, mind and soul and I will try to love others too. Help me by Your grace. Amen."

Now that you have received mercy and compassion God, let Him overflow from your heart. You have truly allowed divine mercy to touch you when you share it with others. As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as He is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other.


Sto. Niño de Paz Community Greenbelt Chapel. (n.d.). A guide to confession based on the 7 Capital sins [Handout].

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