On Monday I posted Spiritual Atrophy and the Need for an Examination of Conscience During Self-Isolation in which I emphasized the dangers of letting our spiritual lives decline and go flat since we cannot make it to Holy Communion. Unless a special effort is made we will experience a gradual decline that likely will lead to venial or mortal sin. Since the Ten Commandments are all about relationships with God and each other, any sin can damage those relationships. The mechanism we use to recognize our sins is called an Examination of Conscience.
In yesterday’s post, How to Make a Thorough Examination of Conscience – Part 1: The “Checklist” Method, I discussed the two types of sin: mortal and venial, and non-sins which we call imperfections, as well as general principles behind a good examination. And, I provided links to examples of questions, or “checklists”, that, when asked of ourselves and viewed from God’s perspective, will help identify our sins.
Because I was in a rush to finish the post I forgot to mention a couple things. First, the questions asked in this method are normally “Yes” or “No” questions. They are very specific and intended to pinpoint those actions for which you may not be too proud. They will not only expose your sins of “commission” (the things you did but shouldn’t have done), but also your sins of “omission” (the things you should have done but failed to do).
The second point I forgot to mention is that there are “checklists” designed for one’s particular state in life. Besides the general lists of questions for anyone, there are sets for children, young adults, singles and married people. An excellent place to find these is on the Laudate app which you can get for your mobile phone. It is an essential tool for anyone interested in consistently practicing and growing in their faith. A very good list for married people can also be found at Beauty So Ancient: A Wonderful Examination of Conscience for Married Couples.
By utilizing one of these lists of questions on a regular basis, a person can nearly memorize those areas that tend to come to the surface. It’s important to not skim over the small stuff. The small stuff can become big stuff.
Today, I want to introduce a second method called the CPR Method of examining one’s conscience. I discovered this method from the Laudate app. Unlike the “checklist” method, this one doesn’t ask specific “Yes” or “No” questions. Rather, it asks you to look at your day subjectively rather than objectively. (The following is copied directly from Laudate):
C = Claim Your Blessings
Reflect on the good things that happened to you today, and explicitly recognize God’s hand in them. He has been loving you every minute of the day, thinking about you, drawing close to you. Thank Him for the little blessings and the big ones. See His gaze of love directed toward you. Ask Him to help guide these few minutes of prayer.
P = Pinpoint Victories and Losses
Taking a kind of “helicopter” view of the activities of the day, examine how you lived them. Where were you selfish in your decisions, attitudes, words, and actions? Where were you virtuous and generous? Also, examine how you responded to the Holy Spirit’s inspirations throughout the day. As you do this, ask for (and accept!) God’s forgiveness for the times you gave in to selfishness or temptation, and thank Him for the graces He gave you to do good and to be faithful to His will.
R = Renew Your Loving Commitment to Christ
Finish by renewing your faith in God and your desire to know Jesus more clearly, to love Jesus more dearly, and to follow Jesus more nearly every single day. If possible, make a specific resolution (proposal of amendment) regarding something you will have to do tomorrow – something you can do to show Christ your love in a concrete way. End with an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and the sign of the cross, or another favorite prayer.
This method is best practiced after one has spent some time using the previous method and getting used to their various faults. I particularly like this method because to begin requires placing yourself in the presence of God, recognizing His love for you, and returning your love back to Him. And, making a resolution in the third step is a sign to God that you really do want to make the effort to grow in virtue and closer to Him. As I mentioned yesterday, this is really what it’s all about – amending your ways and refraining from near occasions of sin in the future.
Tomorrow I will introduce you to the third method of examining your conscience: The Analytical Method.
God bless you all. Be safe and stay healthy. I pray you use some of your newly found free time growing close to God.
(How to Make a Thorough Examination of Conscience – Part 2: The CPR Method was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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