An Examination of Conscience
This examination started as a personal exercise that a friend asked me to put to writing.
Thank you to Sarah Cerrone for putting that challenge to me and thank you to Will Marsh, Fr. Steve dos Santos, Dan Hutson, Austin & Makayla Citrigno their help editing it. Thank you also to Bishop Robert Barron for inspiring me to begin examining my walk by looking for the 7 Deadly Sins.
Please pray this.
Ask the Holy Spirit to take you down roads I missed and to allow you to be honest with yourself.
I pray daily for anyone using this examination, please pray for me.
- Does my anger persist long after an offense? Have I lashed out at others while angry?
- Do I dwell upon the harm I wish to cause another? Do I have grudges? Do I fuel them in myself or others?
- Have I allowed anger to damage, even break, my relationships, especially with family?
- Do I blame others for my anger? Have I apologized for it? Have I refused another forgiveness because of my anger?
- Do I pray for and bless my enemies?
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
The first words of Christ after being lifted up upon the cross are words of forgiveness. The sinless one is being unjustly killed and yet he does not hurl insults and curses. Instead, Christ is raised above the people gathered there and showers them with the mercy of the Lord.
- Am I pained by the success of others? Do I take pleasure at other’s failures?
- Do I find myself envious of the gifts and talents of another, instead of praising the Lord for them?
- Am I envious of others’ possessions or relationships?
- Am I drawn to gossip, slander, or libel (written slander)? Do I encourage those sins in others?
“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
As Christ hangs upon the cross he does not take comfort in the suffering of the criminals next to him, rather he has pity on them. He does not cling enviously to who he is – Life, Love, Light, and Truth – but in his generous mercy lavishes these upon all of us, even the repentant criminal at his side.
- Do I view other humans as a means to satisfy my sexual desires?
- Do I demonize my sexuality? Do I view sexuality as a gift to be cared for or a curse to be dealt with?
- Have I committed adultery with my body, my mind, or my emotions?
- Have I violated another sexually – committed sexual abuse or harassment?
- Have I released my sexual desires through pornography, erotic reading, self-stimulation, or sexual activity outside of marriage? Within marriage, is our intimacy a renewal of our freely given marriage vows? Are we open to God’s participation in our marriage (e.g. do we pray about our budget, do we use contraceptives, is our home our castle or a place of welcome)?
“Woman, behold your son … Behold your mother.”
When Christ entrusts Mary and John to each other he raises the dignity of motherhood. However, it’s not just what Jesus said, but how he said it. In using the word “Behold” he calls Mary and John to see each other as they truly are – as God sees them. Lust, however, violates how I see another and how I see myself. This is why it is commonly associated with the eyes. Not because it is a sin of looking, but because it is a perversion of seeing. It is to see another and believe we can take what is theirs and will never belong to us.
- Am I the center of my own little world? Have I sidelined God and others? Do I have idols?
- Do I make time for a daily prayer life? Do I make Sunday Mass a priority?
- Do I act as if God owes me or believe I can manipulate God? Do I help the Lord’s name and reputation be respected?
- Do I set myself apart, particularly above others? Do I judge others’ hearts, something only God can do?
- God is truth and life, do I insult Him by lying or degrading others’ human dignity?
- Do I flaunt a false humility?
“My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus teaches us that true humility is honest. It is honest about how little I know of God’s plan and that God is God and I am not. Thank God for that! I am not trustworthy like the Lord is. Thus, true humility is allowed to feel confused in the face of hardship and suffering. When we are humble we might cry out for guidance like Christ on the cross, but we never forget that we can trust the Lord in our weakness, just as Christ’s words are the opening lines of Psalm 22 – a psalm of victory.
- Do I overindulge in food or drink? Am I wasteful with that same food or drink?
- Do I disregard my physical health? On the flipside, am I vain about my physical health?
- Are my acts of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving used to help the poor and disadvantaged?
- Do I use illegal drugs, drink underage, or put myself and others at risk through my drinking?
- Do I spurn hospitality because what is offered does not suit my tastes?
With these simple words, Christ stands in solidarity with all of those around the world who need food and clean water. Christ needed. The second person of the Trinity subjected himself to the needs of human life. This legitimizes our need for food and drink, but a legitimate need is very different from an abused practice. Our thirsty Lord was not satisfied by a choice wine that costs more than what some families pay to put food on the table. Rather, he was satisfied by spoiled wine.
- Am I wasteful with the gift of time? Am I inconsiderate of others’ time?
- Do I lack motivation in the areas of life that matter – faith, family, well-being of others?
- Do I lack the capacity to say “no,” thus allowing busyness to prevent me from committing to anything?
- Am I lazy or apathetic? Do I lack diligence? Do I procrastinate?
- Do I put-off loving those around me because I presume I’ll have plenty of time for it later?
- Am I sloppy and hasty in an effort to just be done with a task?
“It is finished.”
This world will come to an end. Our earthly lives will come to a close. Even the God-Man declared “It is finished,” as he neared death. Christ, convicts us to act deliberately and diligently. He doesn’t establish efficiency as a virtue, but he makes it clear that we have work to do and we best get to it. The harvest is ready, but the laborers are few.
- Do I place my worth and value in possessions? Do I thirst for power and authority?
- Do I compromise my morality in order to possess and experience? (ex. piracy, lying)
- Do I use resources excessively? Am I aware of the wider impact of my consumption?
- Do I invest my time and talent into my church and community or do I only seek to receive?
- Do I explore the most moral ways to spend my money or do I always seek the lowest price?
- Do I give to charity and the Church? Do I take on the cost of hospitality?
“Father, into your hands I commend my Spirit.”
It is so tempting to grasp and grab at everything. We live in a consumer culture that says “you are what you have” and “if you get it, hang onto it.” God, on the other hand, is the divine gift-giver. His divine life is gift. Naked, destitute, abandoned, and nailed to the cross Christ made a gift of all he had left – his life. Can we live lives of giving and receiving instead of taking and selling?
Lord, having recalled my sins and reflected the last sayings of your Son, whom I desire to imitate, please convert my heart and give me the grace to prevail against these sins in the future.
Let this meditation on both my need for forgiveness and the source of that mercy bear fruit in my life. Stir in my heart a desire to hear your words of mercy again in Reconciliation.
I love you.
In Jesus’ name,