A Good Way To Examine Our Consciences

10 Mar

The very good never believe themselves very good, because they are judging themselves by the Ideal.  In perfect innocence each soul, like the Apostles at the Last Supper, cries out, “Is it I, Lord” (Mt 26:22)  ~ Fulton J. Sheen

One of the things that concerns me greatly is when someone tells me in one way or another, “I don’t go to confession because I don’t feel I need to.  I don’t do anything that bad.”  In discounting their action or inaction, their words or their silence, they may miss the many ways that they hurt their relationship with God.  The really dangerous part of that kind of attitude is that the more our relationship with God is wounded, the further we stray until we no longer care about having a relationship with Him.

The soul that cares about a relationship with God is always questioning what it needs to do to improve.  As the late Bishop Sheen stated, “the very good never believe themselves very good” because they are measuring themselves against the perfection of God.  By examining how they do not measure up, they can draw closer to God by repenting of their sins.

The Way of the Cross is a popular Lenten devotion.  The Way of the Cross is a wonderful opportunity to walk the road to Calvary spiritually with Jesus.  However, the Way of the Cross is more than just a half hour prayer.  If we enter into the full dimension of the prayer, we walk that road with Jesus and are also prompted to take a look at our own lives.

Ponder the Way of the Cross.  Apply some real-world scenarios to each Station and you will find that it is a rich way to examine how you live your life and what you may need to change.  A very brief list of the Stations and real life examinations follows:

  • Jesus is condemned to death:  How do we condemn other people?  In what ways do we not give them a chance?
  • Jesus carries His cross:  What crosses have we placed upon other people’s shoulders to bear?  Which of those crosses should have been ours to bear?
  • Jesus falls the first time:  When we fall in our spiritual life, do we get up again or do we wallow in sin?  Does fear of falling keep us from initiating a spiritual journey?
  • Jesus meets his mother:  Do we appreciate the people in our lives who have a very vested interest in us?
  • Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross:  Have we neglected to help others shoulder their burdens?  Have we helped others only because we were forced to do so and made them feel worse because of our attitude?
  • Veronica wipes the face of Jesus:  Are we willing to face scorn and ridicule to come to the aid of someone who needs help?  Have we abandoned others because we feared what would happen to us if we aided them?
  • Jesus falls the second time:  Are we willing to get up if we fall a second time?  Are we reluctant to continue our attempts to draw closer to the Lord?
  • Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem:  When we suffer, do we take it out on others?  Do we show mercy to others when we are not feeling it ourselves?
  • Jesus falls a third time:  How reluctant are we to keep at a spiritual struggle that lasts a long time?  Do we quit confessing a chronic sin and pretend that it does not have a hold of us?
  • Jesus clothes are taken away:  How do we strip others of their dignity?  How do we make others feel vulnerable?
  • Jesus is nailed to the cross:  Do we refuse to give people the time or patience or aid that they need?  Do we continually blame others, even if things are not their fault?
  • Jesus dies on the cross:  What relationships in our lives have we allowed to die?  Have we abandoned others when they needed us the most?
  • The body of Jesus is taken down from the cross:  Have we attempted to remove the Lord from our lives?  Do we have have any visual reminders of Him in our homes (pictures, a crucifix) or have we removed them?
  • Jesus is laid in the tomb:  What parts of our spiritual lives have we buried because we wanted to get ahead, to be more popular, to be more accepted?

To paraphrase the old orange juice commercial:  The Way of the Cross.  It’s not just for praying anymore.

FAITH ACTION:  Pray the Way of the Cross either by yourself or by attending Stations of the Cross at a local church.  However, as you reflect upon the stations, let them be, for you, an examination of conscience.  If you are led to do so from your examination, plan to go to confession at your earliest convenience.

Remember:  Fridays are days of abstinence.  
No meat or meat products are to be eaten today.