To seek a remedy for our faults is a task of love. That is why we must take advantage of a very necessary and indispensable means, which is the examination of conscience. Bishop Javier Echevarría.
What is the examination of conscience for?
The purpose of the examination is not to be anguished with the faults but to recognize them with sincerity and trust in God and then to turn to the sacrament of confessionknowing that we will be forgiven. The whole process moves in the infinite mercy of God manifested in Jesus Christ.
We see our faults in relation to:
- Ten commandments.
- Seven deadly sins.
- Character defects.
- Gifts that God has given us to serve Him.
- The responsibilities of our vocation.
Examination of conscience is a bridge to confession
At times, it is our own life that seems to go astray as a result of wrong decisions or simply our personal weaknesses. We Christians are fortunate in that we have the possibility of starting over. That possibility exists thanks to the goodness of being able to turn to the sacrament of Forgiveness, to reach the certainty that God forgives us and encourages us to start again.
Recommendations of Bishop Javier Echevarría in 2016.
How to make a good examination of conscience
In the first place, the examination is made before God, listening to his voice in the conscience of each one of us.
Take a few minutes for a daily soul-searching session.
After that, it only takes a few minutes of daily reflection to look with the soul at the light of God. As St. Josemaría explained, it only takes a few minutes before giving oneself to nightly rest, but with daily constancy.
Ask for the Holy Spirit's help
But there are punctual moments, for example, the examination of conscience for confession, where it will be convenient to proceed more carefully. And in all cases, it is convenient to invoke the Holy Spirit, so that he may grant us his light.
Ending with an act of pain and a purpose for improvement.
Finally, it is not just a matter of enumerating sins but of discovering the wrong attitude of the heart and with sorrow for our sins, making a firm resolution not to commit them again. It is important to end with an act of sorrow and a concrete resolution for the following day. There are always areas in which we are weaker and require special attention, but if we understand that Christ is the measure, we will see that in everything we have much to grow.
The examination of conscience proposed by Pope Francis
Moreover, during Lent 2015, Pope Francis presented the faithful in St. Peter's Square with a special booklet entitled. "Custodian of the heart". It contains important resources for the journey towards Holy Week. It can be downloaded from the link above.
Among these resources is an examination of conscience of 30 questions posed by the Pope to make a good confession, as well as a brief explanation on why to go to the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Questions for a good examination of conscience
We offer a series of questions directed by St. Josemaría Escrivá, which can help in the examination of conscience prior to confession. This version is intended for adults.
Thou shalt love God above all things....
- Do I believe all that God has revealed and that the Catholic Church teaches us? Have I doubted or denied the truths of the Catholic faith?
- Do I reluctantly do the things that refer to God? Do I remember the Lord throughout the day? Do I pray at any time during the day?
- Have I received the Lord in Holy Communion while having some grave sin on my conscience? Have I kept silent in confession out of shame about some mortal sin?
- Have I blasphemed, have I sworn unnecessarily or untruthfully, have I practiced superstition or spiritism?
- Have I missed Mass on Sundays or feast days? Have I observed the days of fasting and abstinence?
... and your neighbor as yourself.
- Do I show respect and affection to my family members, am I attentive and help in the care of my parents or relatives if they need it, am I kind to strangers and do I lack that kindness in family life, am I patient, do I have patience, do I show respect and affection to my family members, am I kind to strangers and do I lack that kindness in family life, am I patient?
- Do I allow my work to take up time and energies that belong to my family or friends? If I am married, have I strengthened my spouse's authority, avoiding reprimanding, contradicting or arguing with him/her in front of the children?
- Do I respect human life? Have I cooperated or encouraged anyone to abort, destroy embryos, euthanize or any other means that threatens the life of human beings?
- Do I wish others well, or do I harbor hatred and make critical judgments? Have I been verbally or physically violent in family, work or other settings? Have I set a bad example to those around me? Do I correct them angrily or unfairly?
- Have I tried to take care of my health? Have I drunk alcohol to excess? Have I taken drugs? Have I risked my life unjustifiably (by driving, entertainment, etc.)?
- Have I watched pornographic videos or websites? Do I incite others to do evil?
- Do I live in chastity? Have I committed impure acts with myself or with others? Have I indulged in impure thoughts, desires or sensations? Do I live with someone as if we were married without being married?
- If I am married, have I cared for marital fidelity? Do I try to love my spouse above anyone else? Do I put my marriage and my children first? Am I open to new lives?
- Have I taken money or things that are not mine, and if so, have I made restitution or reparations?
- Do I try to fulfill my professional duties, am I honest, have I cheated others: overcharging, purposely offering a defective service?
- Have I spent money for my personal comfort or luxury, forgetting my responsibilities to others and to the Church? Have I neglected the poor or the needy? Am I fulfilling my duties as a citizen?
- Have I told lies? have I repaired any damage that may have followed? have I, without just cause, discovered serious faults in others? have I spoken or thought ill of others? have I slandered? have I slandered?
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