In preparation for our Diocesan Day of Penance, this coming Wednesday from 12:00 to 4:00 PM and 4:30 to 7:00 PM, I offer some reflections on Examining Your Conscience. The Day of Penance is scheduled to give an opportunity for every Catholic to celebrate individual confession.
Before celebrating the Sacrament of Penance, we should examine our conscience and reflect on these questions such as these:
What is my attitude toward the Sacrament of Penance? Do I sincerely want to be set free from sin and to enter into a deeper relationship with God?
- Did I forget to mention, or deliberately conceal, any sins in past confessions?
- Did I perform my act of thanksgiving (penance) I was given?
- Did I make reparation and have I tried to put into practice my resolution to lead a better life in keeping with the Gospel?
Then, we should examine our life in the light of God's word, and Jesus' example. Here are some questions for consideration in light of "You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart."
- Is my heart set on God, loving God above all things or, am I more concerned with the things of this world?
- Have I been careful to grow in my understanding of the faith, have I professed my faith in God and have I been willing to be known as a Christian in private and public life?
- Do I pray? Do I offer my difficulties, joys, sorrows and temptation to God?
- Have I love and reverence for God's name?
- Do I take a full part in the liturgy/Mass?
- Are there false gods that I worship: money, superstition or status?
The Lord says: "Love one another as I have loved you."
- Have I a genuine love for my neighbors?
- In my family life, have I contributed to the well-being and happiness of the rest of the family by patience and genuine love? Do I love my parents, my children, my husband, my wife and other significant people in my life?
- Do I share with the less fortunate? Do I do my best to help the victims of oppression, misfortune and poverty?
- Does my life reflect the mission I received in baptism; called to share in the apostolic and charitable works of the Church?
- Am I concerned for the good and prosperity of the human community in which I live?
- In my work or profession, am I just, hard-working, honest? Have I paid a just wage to my employees?
- Have I obeyed and respected legitimate authority?
- If I have responsibility or authority, do I use it for my own advantage or for the good of others?
- Have I been truthful and fair, or have I injured others by lies, detraction, rash judgment, or violation of a secret?
- Have I done violence to others?
- Have I stolen or damaged the property of others?
- If I have been injured, have I been ready to make peace for the love of Christ or do I harbor revenge?
Christ our Lord says: "Be perfect as your Father is perfect."
- Is my life leading me to the hope of eternal life?
- Have I tried to grow in the life of the Spirit through prayer, reading the word of God and meditating on it?
- Have I been proud and boastful, despising others?
- Is my own will more important than respecting the freedom and rights of others?
- What use have I made of time?
- Have I been patient in accepting the sorrows and disappointments of life
Obviously this list of questions for reflection is limited, I am sure you could add many more. Please don’t be concerned about How to "GO" to Confession and What do I say, I will help you through the “process” and if you have forgotten the Act of Contrition there will be copies available.
The most important thing about celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation is that you arrive with true sincerity of heart and being truly open to God’s mercy and love.
Have a great and blessed Lent!
Please continue to pray for peace in our world!
In peace and courage,
PS - If you'd like to read more about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, go to the USCCB website http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramentals/penance/index.cfm