The Examination of Conscience

When I played football in high school there was a practice, a sort of ritual, that the whole team would do together every week during the season- we “reviewed the tapes.” Once a week, usually on a Monday or Tuesday, the whole team would gather together in a classroom while the coach showed us selected tapes of the previous week’s game. We saw the great plays and cheered, we saw the horrible mistakes (and would playfully rib each other for the foul-ups), and we would evaluate our plays. Most importantly, we would learn from our errors and then practice the skills necessary to never make them again. It helped us as a team and as individual players. It helped us to grow in humility in the failures and to celebrate each others’ victories as brothers.

This is what the Examination of Conscience should be for each of us. At the end of the day, while we are beginning to wind down, we can “review the tape” of our day. We see the good plays, the times when we responded well to the grace of God. We bless Him and thank Him, and we can bless and thank our “teammates” who walked through the day with us. It also allows us to grow in humility at the failures, the sins, the exposition of our vices, not so that we can beat ourselves up, but so that we can learn from them and ask God for his merciful, loving forgiveness. (He may even playfully rib us a little too.) It will also allow us to make small, practical adjustments that we can practice and visualize so that, when the situations arise again, we can avoid the same mistakes and be victorious.

Our Guardian Angels are a huge help to us when we make an examination of conscience. They are our teammates, our “wing men” (pun completely intended) that are with us every step of the way. They point things out to us, lift us up when tackled, and give us the support of their friendship and God’s grace. They love the practical and are good at helping us in the smallest little matters of the day. We can ask them for their help in everything and, at the end of the day, we can especially ask them to shed some divine light on our day so that we can see it more clearly. They also remind us how to improve the next day.

Here is a slightly unconventional Examination of Conscience which I find helpful. There are plenty of exams available on the web that list particular sins. This one cuts to the heart of the matter and helps us to go deeper into the sources and roots of sin as well as the graces of the day. I hope it helps you.

•In what areas of my life am I not at peace? 
•Where am I angry, depressed, discouraged, anxious, bitter, resentful? 
•Where am I too focused on myself? 
•What ares of my life, my thoughts, my desires, have I not yet given over to Jesus as Lord? 
•What wouldn’t I want to talk to Jesus about? 
•What would I not want Him to see? 
•In what ways am I not responding to what God wants me to do? 
•How has he transformed my life or been present to me today? 
•What graces were given today? 
•How did I respond well and not so well to those graces to love God, myself and those I encountered today?