Examine Your Spiritual Progress

31 Jul

Whoa! Time out! Off with the shades! Away with the remote! It’s time to take stock.

“Examine your 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 Catholic, a Christian. And one good way to do that is indeed to examine your conscience.

I’ve long been convinced that 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 perhaps, it might convince God that I’m not so bad after all. 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. Again, God, this is a positive!

However, sin is sin. Somehow, in the last couple of generations we’ve managed to camouflage sin under the less unsettling guise of “failure” or “missing the mark.” It’s so easy to wound one’s concept of reality by linguistics.

It seems necessary, at times, to embrace 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 as an individual at times actually 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?

For example:

I am prideful – I consider myself the best person to read at Mass; or – I fail to complement and celebrate with the person who won out over me.

I am gluttonous – I overeat just for the sake of taste; or – I horde my groceries rather than share them with the needy.

That’s the idea – but don’t fail to end on a positive note, thanking the Lord for all the good that you do through his grace.


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