In the post below, we looked at a method St. Francis de Sales recommended for a general examination. There really are two ways to examine one's conscience - particular and general. Each supports a different kind of growth in the spiritual life. Both are necessary.
The general examination of conscience, which we make daily, is essential to keep the whole person moving in the right direction. It gives us a view of our life - a global vision of where we stand before God. Every action is placed before his throne and bathed in his light.
And it is essential. It's like standing in front of a full-length mirror, looking at all the details, before we go into an important interview. It wouldn't help much to make sure that no hair is out of place if we're wearing mismatched shoes. Similarly, it wouldn't make much sense to check the sleeves and cuffs, if the collar is torn. We need to look at everything regularly.
In this examen, we look over the entire day, the big things, and some of the little things - the ones that stand out - and see that all of it remains moving toward God.
There is another type of examen, with a different purpose. That is another tale for another time.