Monday, October 6, 2008

How to Examine Your Conscience with the Beatitudes

In failing to confess, Lord, I would only
hide you from myself, not myself from you.
~ St. Augustine

A friend of mine wanted to know how to go to Confession, especially examine your conscience. One of the ways I examine my conscience is through the Beatitudes. The information below is taken from several articles and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I pray this information helps you examine your conscience in preparation for the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

There are five steps of making a good examination of conscience:
1) Give thanks to God
2) Ask the Holy Spirit to show you your sins and to help eliminate them from your soul
3) Ask the Holy Spirit for a total account of your soul, from your previous Confession to now
4) Ask pardon from God for your faults
5) Resolve to amend these faults, through God's grace, and never sin again
~ St. Ignatius Loyola

Using the Beatitudes to prepare for Confession
(Matthew 5: 3-12)

The Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray His charity. They reveal the goal of human existence, the ultimate end of human acts. (CCC 1717 & 1719)

'Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven'
- Do I trust God with all of my heart, preferring Him to everything?
- Do I abandon myself to God's providence, giving Him my anxieties in exchange for His joy?
- Do I choose poverty to be like Jesus, rich in faith and free in the Spirit?
- If I am faithful in the small things, like material possessions, the Lord will entrust me with greater things.

'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted'
- Do I have real sorrow in my heart for my sins?
- Do I ask for sorrow for my sins?
- Do I wallow in my own problems, or do I seek out and comfort those who are lonely, rejected, or suffering?
- Do I allow the Holy Spirit to convict my of my sins, receiving sorrow which leads to repentance?
- Do I realize that my sins are not just breaking the rules, but breaking Jesus' heart?

'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth'
- Am I haughty and proud, or humble like Christ?
- If I am gifted in academics, sports, music, or some other talent, do I give God the glory?
- Am I a servant for God?

- Do I seek revenge or turn the other cheek and forgive?

'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied'
- Do I long for God's will to be done, or do I pursue my own interests apart from Him?
- Am I lukewarm in my faith, being satisfied with mediocrity?
- Do I worry about what what I am to eat, drink, or wear, or do I first seek out God and His holiness, knowing after Him, everything else will be provided?
- Am I either filled by hungering and thirsting for holiness or lose my spiritual apetite and starve myself?

'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy'
- Am I mindful of how much God has forgiven me, or am I quick to condemn and slow to forgive others the harm they have caused me?
- Am I resentful?
- Am I sympathetic to the needs of others?
- Do I pray and work for the salvation of souls?
- Do I offer our lives up in ransom for others, dying on someone else's cross?
- I am in desperate need of receiving mercy, but mercy is very expensive to give. Therefore, I need an all-merciful Savior and to become a merciful follower of such a Savior.

'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God'
- Have I not only rejected thoughts of lust, but prayed to have a pure heart and live a life of purity?
- Have I glorified God with my body?
- Do I act like my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?
- Do I obey the first and most basic Commandment - to Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength?
- Do I understand that my commitment to God must be all or nothing, He will not accept lukewarm.

'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God'
- Do I not only avoid harming others, but strive to bring peace and reconciliation into the lives of others?
- Jesus showed us the price of peace - His Cross. Am I willing to follow Him, reconciling everything to Him?
- Do I take my eyes off of Jesus on the Cross when things get tough, losing sight of the path of peace?

'Blessed are those who are pursecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven'
- Do I have the courage to do the will of God?
- If mocked for living according to God's laws, do I give in?
- Do I freely choose to live my life for God, exposing myself to persecution?

'Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven'
- Do I spread the Faith and refuse to compromise it?
- Do I not only refuse to use the Lord's name in vain, but seek to correct those who do?
- Have I been ashamed of Jesus, or do I challenge my friends who are falling into sin?

While the Ten Commandments mostly tell us what to avoid, the Beatitudes tell us what to become. By examining Our Lord's Sermon on the Mount, we can take a deeper look at the state of our souls before Confession.

Presentation Ministries


Anonymous said...

Beautifully done. Remember, pilgrims, we do not pull ourselves from the pit of hell, it is God who has redeemed our lives through Jesus Christ. Repent of your sins, most surely, and see your sins forgiven by Jesus, most surely. For only through Jesus is your life redeemed, your sins atoned. Believe on him who gives you life in fulness, forever.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! This has been a profound and useful tool for me, bringing my heart to the right place.
God bless you~