Even many people who do not regularly avail themselves of the sacrament of Reconciliation do go to confession during Lent. Indeed, although we don’t anymore often hear the phrase “Easter Duty,” Catholics are required to receive go to confession (and to receive Holy Eucharist) at least once in the period between the First Sunday in Lent and Trinity Sunday.
It is common to engage in an examination of conscience in preparation of receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation. There are many forms that examination can take and one can find numerous lists of questions in books and online for prayerfully examaining our actions of body, speech and mind.
In going through some material in my study at home (cleaning out files in my study being a seemingly never ending process), I came across an examination of conscience that I received during an Ash Wednesday Day fo Reflection some years ago. I share it here because it is different from many I’ve seen and because it seems to me useful both for preparation for Reconciliation and for individual reflection during this Lenten season, and, indeed, at any other time. I hope you find it a fruitful source of reflection.
1. Do I fully believe that I am loved infinitely and forever by God?
If I do not believe this enough, do I pray fervently: “I believe, O God, help my unbelief?”
2. Do I live my live as though I believe that I am loved infinitely and forever by God?
a) Do I treasure myself as God’s “beloved”? Do I thank God continuously for all the wonderful gifts that I have received as signs of love? Do I develop gently, confidently, persistently all those gifts? Am I joyous about my opportunities to grow in God’s love for me?
b) Do I celebrate the people in my life who are sacraments (i.e., effective symbols) of God’s love for me?
3. Do I treat all other people as though they are loved infinitely and forever by God?
4. Am I anxious to share my gifts with others and to receive a share in their gifts so that the Body of Christ may grow more fully in Jesus’ image?
Am I concerned for the disadvantaged and do I seek personally, economically, and politically to have all people have the opportunity for the fullness of life?