In trying to determine whether there has been any shifting along the path to perfectibility -- in either direction -- it is helpful to be able to hold in our thoughts, a realistic and measurable ideal.
It is understandable that the "Healing Sacrament of Penance & Reconciliation," would begin with examining one's conscience.
If we are to honor God by respecting our own higher nature, by having a better understanding of what is possible to expect of ourselves, and to think about the ways in which -- even in our challenging human nature -- we can still try to be at least more "perfectible."
In the Roman Catholic tradition, expressed in the "Catechism of the Catholic Church," Part I concerns "The Profession of Faith" which involves both man's capacity for knowing God, and mankind's desire for God -- the yearning for all that is good. We begin to understand how far mankind has come to know God, through the revelation of "God's Plan of Loving Goodness," in the stages of Divine Revelation through Jesus as "the Mediator."
The transmission of Divine Revelation through Jesus, in the Apostolic Tradition, through Sacred Scripture, and through the Heritage of Faith can best be considered in many ways as a Gift to mankind in order to increase our Happiness; and as Pope Francis reminds us in so many ways, "there is Joy in the Gospel."
Man's Response to God
As Christians, our own response to God is that "I believe:"
"We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered, died, and was buried.
On the 3rd day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come."
The Nicene Creed is described more fully in Part I, Section Two of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (here); and is essentially a definition of terms, with links for each of the phrases of the Creed:
THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY
THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH
THE SACRAMENTS OF HEALING
1422 "Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God's mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer, labors for their conversion."
The seven sacraments are 'outward signs, instituted by Christ, to give Grace.' These include the "Sacraments of Christian Initiation," including Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist; and the "Sacraments of Healing," which include both Penance & Reconciliation, and The Anointing of the Sick. " The Sacraments At the Service of Communion" include both The Sacrament of Holy Orders and the Sacrament of Matrimony.
But it is in Part Three, Section Two, Article 2055, that we find very significant statements that Jesus had made, with respect to the Ten Commandments:
"When someone asks him, 'Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?'
Jesus replies: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.'
The Decalogue must be interpreted in light of this twofold yet single commandment of love, the fullness of the Law:"
Only through having a contrite heart can God's mercy be received. That is the nature of the gift of Penance and Reconciliation -- as the grace to continue to 'love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,' and to be able to love yourself; and in doing this to have the capacity to love your neighbor.