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Monday, June 15, 2015

Have you been to Confession Lately?

Fr. Tom suggests some important guidelines for examining your conscience. This would be a great article to run off and take with you (along with your Bible) for your next Confession.

by Fr. Tom Collins

The Rite for the Sacrament of Reconciliation encourages the use of God’s Word, found in Holy Scripture and in Church Tradition, for the examination of one’s conscience. Just as a diagnosis of a sick person requires many forms of examination (e.g., blood tests, pulse, blood pressure, EEG, X-rays, EKG, urine analysis, CAT scan, etc.), so a thorough examination of conscience should consider the many dimensions of one’s spiritual life in the light of God’s revealed Word. Our need for diverse formats for an examination of conscience can be seen in a simple exercise. Counting the number of times "F" is found in the following sentence:
The correct answer is at the bottom of this page in italics. If you did not get the correct answer, you are not alone. Most people do not do so on the first try. Although we all know what an "F" looks like, our eyes can often overlook the obvious. And just as our eyes can deceive us, so also a spirituality that is formed by only one dimension of the Church’s teaching can easily lead one away from fruitful mortification into a bitter frustration.

One’s regular and balanced examination of conscience, then, is an important discipline in the spiritual life and a prelude to the Last Judgment so that one can become more gratefully receptive to the forgiveness, healing and strength offered by God – especially as it is ministered to one through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Dangers of unbalanced examination of conscience:
- Using only one’s emotional feelings of guilt in evaluating how one has sinned (emotions tell us how we are responding to a situation, rather than what is the truth regarding that situation);
- Frustration in the spiritual life, since we are approaching a problem from the wrong direction (e.g., one can knock down a stack of bricks by hitting it with a thousand pounds of force from the top, but it is easier to do so by hitting it with ten pounds of force from the side); 
- Overlooking sins and faults that are camouflaged by our culture (e.g., calumny disguised as “news”, abuse disguised as “discipline”) or hidden by subtle forms of despair, which tell us that a particular sin “is not all that bad” or beyond the remedy of God’s grace;

- Using will power, rather than the discipline of a deepening grateful receptivity to one’s share in the awkward mystery of the Cross of Christ, as the basis for one’s growth in the spiritual life (thus building up spiritual pride and resentment toward those who do not measure up to our expectations);
- Forsaking God’s Word and His Word-made-flesh for the sake of “Gospel principles”, which is analogous to identifying a red hot metal rod with fire. For a short period of time, the hot metal can cause a fire, but the metal itself is not fire. 
One’s appreciation of the truth of the Gospel is always limited, thus Christ Himself must always be seen as the standard of spiritual integrity. God’s Word (Holy Scripture and Church Tradition) is living and effective (Heb 4:12-13). It has the power to reveal one’s sins and to create new potential in the human heart. It provides one with the preeminent way in which to discern the truth of one’s spiritual condition. It provides one with a sure means to know and conform to God’s Holy Will, so that one can do the right thing in the right way with the right attitude and in the right relationship with the whole Christ, Head and Body. 

Scriptural Examinations of Conscience: Matt 5:3-7:27; Exod 20:1-17; Wis 7:23-30; Gal 5:19-26;
I Cor 13:1-13; II Cor 6:1-10; Eph 4:1-6; Eph 4:25-5:20; Phil 2:1-11; Col 3:5-17; I Thes 5:12-22;
II Tim 2:14-3:9; Heb 13:1-19.
Penitential Psalms - Before Confession Ps 50, after Confession Ps 32)

 (Answer to question in paragraph one – ELEVEN) 


newguy40 said...

I have several pretty good examens. But, I like to find new ones to keep my spiritual "muscles" read to go... So, thanks!

I went to confession on this last Saturday. It is tourist season in this beach town so we get ALOT of tourists on Saturday and Sunday. Many unfamiliar faces but glad that there was already a line 10 mins before confession was scheduled to start. I guess I can see the attraction of the unfamiliar priest for confession. I know some of the best confessions I've had came from priest who were not my regular confessors.

I have an tooth extraction scheduled for this week. And, I'll be under general anesthesia. As the Lord has said, "You won't know the time or place" so I am working to prepare myself for what ever may come. Oh, I know it's a routine procedure but confession and the holy Eucharist is great preparation for any medical procedure.

Needless to say, I'd welcome any prayers of support for this coming Friday. thx---

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I'm saying a Hail Mary for you right now and will ask my angel to carry your intentions to the throne of God when I pray my rosary and go to daily Mass.

I think you're prudent to go to confession before general anesthesia. My son goes to confession whenever he has to travel on a plane. As you don't know the day or the hour.

This discussion reminds me of Chesterton's statement about saying grace:

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”

Let me know how you are after your procedure. The dentist is never any fun!

newguy40 said...

Thanks for the encouragement and prayers. You will certainly, God willing, hear from me.

I had not seen that quote from Chesterton.

Mr Paige had a little more earthy attitude.
"Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines."
— Satchel Paige, 1974