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This post presents the third of three methods for making a good and thorough examination of conscience. 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 during this difficult time of isolation; the associated risk of falling into sin more easily; and how a good examination of conscience can help turn us around.

On Tuesday, I posted How to Make a Thorough Examination of Conscience – Part 1: The “Checklist” Method. In it I discussed the types of sin, the general principles behind a good examination, and links to examples of questions to ask ourselves when making an examination.

And, yesterday I posted How to Make a Thorough Examination of Conscience – Part 2: The CPR Method. This method is less specific and more subjective than the “Checklist” method and begins by recalling the times God was present in your life during the day; looks at the events of the day and how you reacted to them; and finishes by making a resolution to improve.

Today, I am presenting the Analytical Method of examining one’s conscience. Like the CPR method, I am copying the following from Laudate, a very useful, comprehensive, and essential Catholic app. This method combines some of each of the previous two methods. It can be both objective with Yes/No questions, and subjective with open ended reflection.

The Analytical Method

A. Quiet your soul and enter into God’s presence, asking Him for light to know yourself and to know Him.

B. Review the major areas of God’s will in your life [e.g. roles and responsibilities], examining the level of your faithfulness to what God was asking of you. Trust that the Holy Spirit will draw your attention to what He wants you to reflect on. As you do this examination, keep asking yourself, “Why?”, so that you are sure to let God’s healing grace seep into the very roots of your selfish tendencies.You could arrange this examination by key relationships:

  1. You could arrange this examination by key relationships:
  • Relationship with God: prayer, obeying the Commandments;
  • Relationships with others (especially those closest to you): honesty, generosity, compassion, loyalty, purity, patience, etc.
  • Relationship with self: responsibility (work, school, home, money), laziness, healthy discipline, etc.

2. You could arrange this examination by the three “W’s”:

  • Way – How did I treat people? How did I go about my business? In a Christ-like way?
  • Words – Were my words worthy of Christ?
  • Works – Were my decisions and actions in harmony with my mission as a Christian?

C. Thank God for the good that, with His grace, you were able to accomplish; ask for (and accept!) His forgiveness for your shortcomings and sins.

D. Renew your commitment to follow him even more closely tomorrow (if you can identify a specific resolution to make your commitment even more concrete, all the better).

There are two aspects I like about this method. First, that it isn’t just a mental exercise for you. It involves entering into the presence of God through meditation and asking the Holy Spirit to show you your faults and failings, where they lie, and their root causes. Secondly, it focuses on relationships and roles: with God, others and yourself. And, like the CPR method, comparing your actions against God’s will for you enables you to make a better resolution to grow closer to Christ, which, again, is what it’s all about.

I will conclude this series tomorrow with some thoughts on what the next step is after a good and thorough examination of conscience, namely, attending the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Stay tuned!

Just as you are taking precautions to prevent exposure to the Coronavirus and subsequent ailment, I urge you to take necessary precautions and protect your spiritual health as well. God bless you all.

(How to Make a Thorough Examination of Conscience – Part 3: The Analytical Method was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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