Mama always told me to clean my plate–but what was that about being greedy and a glutton?
Yes, examine my spiritual progress. That sounds better than “examination of conscience?”
It’s less threatening, less old fashioned—but alas, any way you put it, you have to reflect on how you live up to your claim to be a Christian. And one good way to do that is indeed to examine your conscience.
A proper examination of conscience involves reflection on what you actually did right, what you did wrong and what you failed to do that you should have done.
I always like to start with what I did right—it sort of softens the blow as I progress forward. And then, after all that admission of guilt, I recall again what I did right and thank God for his help in keeping me straight in those instances, however few they may be.
However, sin is sin. Somehow, in the last couple of generations we’ve managed to reduce sin to mere failures and mistakes. It’s so easy to dim one’s concept of reality by failing to speak the naked truth.
It seems necessary, at times, to recognize the ugliness and horror of sin. This is done quite easily by considering carefully the seven deadly sins: pride, anger, avarice, greed, lust, gluttony and sloth.
Why not take time occasionally to see how you actually do sin in any of those areas—how you sin by commission or omission, by doing what you should not do or by failing to do what you should do?
I am prideful—I consider myself the best person to read at Mass; or I fail to compliment and celebrate with the person who won out over me.
I am gluttonous – I overeat just for the sake of taste.
I am avaricious – I horde my money or my faith rather than share them with the needy.
That’s the idea – but don’t fail to end on a positive note. Maybe you did share your wealth. Maybe you did not overeat. Maybe you did honor the person who won out over you.
That indeed is something worth giving thanks to God.