Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Examination of Conscience - An introduction

Know Thyself

The ancients knew that self-knowledge was the most important and the most difficult to obtain of all the sciences. It's not that we don't know ourselves; it's that we don't want to know ourselves, not entirely. We want to look good, so that other people will love us. We even have the bizarre notion that we have to look good so we can earn the love of God.

No, it's not just you. Every single one of us has this deceptive interior bent.

So we hide from ourselves and when a well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) person points out one of our faults or foibles or sins or flaws, we grow bitter, agitated, hurt, angry.

It's been called pride. But it's pride running scared from being not loved. Humility has been called truth. That is good. I prefer "resolute adherence to reality." It is not easy to walk in the reality of myself, but it's really pretty amazing once we realize that we don't have to be perfect. God really does love each one us, as we are, and it's his job to make us good. He can only do that if we're willing to admit that we've not yet reached the summit of perfection.

So the examination of conscience.

Begin simply. If we seek the truth, we don't have to be complicated about it.

  1. Come into the presence of God.
  2. Thank him for the many gifts he has given me today.
  3. Ask him to shine the light of his grace on my day and highlight the areas which he wants to examine.
  4. Talk these things over with him; give thanks for the good; repent of any sins. Perhaps make note of them in a spiritual journal, particularly if there is something I want to remember for my next confession.
  5. Plan how to avoid the sins and how to extend the good.
  6. Pray, fervently, for his grace to firmly and enthusiastically put my resolutions into practice.
We can examine ourselves at any time and in any place. It is best to fix a time of day to do so. If this is a new practice, some help may be needed at first. Remember, any step is a good step as long as we keep moving forward.

It is a great grace to know thyself.


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