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Examination of conscience March 21, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Interior Life, North Deanery.

Examination of conscience is a necessary part of any faithful Catholic’s interior life.  Unfortunately, it’s not a topic that gets discussed very frequently in sermons or other venues, and alot of Catholics aren’t familiar with the concept, or how to do it.  Here are some words from Divine Intimacy, a “guidebook” of Carmelite spirituality:

To insure an orderly and progressive growth in the spiritual life, we must know ourselves. We have to consider our sins, our weak points, our evil tendencies, as well as the progress we have already made and our inclinations to the good. This knowledge of our interior state is obtained through the examination of conscience.  The examen considered in this way becomes one of the most important exercises of the spiritual life, since its object is to help the soul to rid itself of everything that might obstruct or delay its journey to God, and to stimulate it to quicken its pace toward Him.   We cannot fight evil in ourselves if we have not previously identified it. We can never attain sanctity if we have not looked or an efficacious means of acquiring it.  The examination of conscience attains its end when the soul who has faithfully practiced this exercise can say to itself: these are the inclinations which I must watch more carefully to avoid falling into sin; these, the weak points which I must strengthen; thse are the virtues that I must practice most of all.

It is clear that we must first recognize and combat any tendencies which could lead us to mortal sin, but then, those that could bring us to venial sin or to simple voluntary imperfections must be similarly treated.  Everything that constitutes a deliberate fault m ust be progressively rooted out of the soul which aspires to divine union.

Instead of trying to seek out all the faults it has committed, the soul living an interior life should fix its attention on the degree to which its faults have been voluntary, even in the case of slight imperfections, because it is these deliberate faults that present the greatest obstacle to spiritual progress and to union with God. The soul must carefully investigate teh cause of and the motive for these failures. It is precisely against this root of our sins and imperfections that we must direct our efforts, not simply to lessen it by mortification, but rather to fight it directly by the increase of the oppostive virtues in ourselves.

Another important point that must not be overlooked in the examination of conscience is teh rememberance of our duty to sustain and guard the desire for sanctity and to enliven our determination to do always what is most pleasing to God; here is the heart of spiritual life, of generosity.  It is also an excellent method to examine ourselves from God’s point of view instead of our own.

Frequent confession is essential for most to advance in their spiritual lives.  Frequent confession preceded by examination of conscience tends, over time, to bring forth many faults previously unrecognized and even their root causes, leading to spiritual growth.  Many deeply involved in the spiritual life counsel that Confessions should be made at least weekly – our previous Holy Father made Confession several times a week, and Mother Teresa almost daily.  Were they soooo evil?  No – they recognized that examination of conscience and frequent Confession are essential tools for growth in sanctity.


1. Colleen Hammond - March 22, 2011

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