Examination of Conscience

The examination of conscience is defined in the Catechism as “the prayerful self-reflection on our words and deeds in the light of the Gospel to determine how we may have sinned against God.” Lent is a penitential season where we are called to repentance of our sins and to a deeper conversion. For Secular Carmelites, these penitential days in the liturgical year are of particular importance and the Sacrament of Penance is important in assisting our on-going conversion. (Constitution #22 & 24)

The examination of conscience should be faithfully practiced. A good time for this is each night before Night Prayer. During this examination consider:

weak points
evil tendencies
progress that has already been made
favorable results that have been attained
inclinations to good

Self-knowledge is important for everyone and St. Teresa of Jesus often exhorts the necessity of this for those who pray. In the Interior Castle she writes, “Knowing ourselves is something so important that I wouldn’t want any relaxation ever in this regard, however high you may have climbed into the heavens. While we are on this earth nothing is more important to us than humility.” (I, 2:9)

After considering the points above in the examination of conscience each of us can say to ourselves:

-These are the inclinations I must watch more carefully to
avoid falling into sin:

-These are the weak points which I must strengthen:

-These are the virtues that I must practice most of all:

Faults against charity, patience, obedience and sincerity should also be the focus of our examination. There is a struggle in all this, because we are striving to work against our predominant fault. And none of us is any better than our worst fault! Therefore, “Let us look at our own faults and leave aside those of others” (III, 2:13)

Let also practice the virtues for St. Teresa says, “It is necessary that your foundation consist of more than prayer and contemplation. If you do not strive for the virtues and practice them, you will always be dwarfs. And, please God, it will be only a matter of not growing, for you already know that whoever does not increase decreases.” (VII, 4: 9)

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