Monday, July 21, 2008

Not Just for Confession

Examination of Conscience for Teenagers

Before going to confession, you should examine your conscience. That is, you should take time to look deeply into your heart and determine whether or not your past actions have had a damaging effect on your soul. In order to make a good confession, you need to review your past thoughts, words, and actions.

But self-examination isn’t just for confession. You should make frequent use of it. It's a good idea to take time each night, before failing asleep, to look deeply into your intentions and the choices you made that day. In making this a habit, you will not have any difficulty in recalling your sins when you do go to confession. Making a habit of daily self-examination will also help you avoid sin when first confronted with it.

We often hear about the importance of exercising our bodies. We should also exercise our souls. After all, our souls are eternal. Daily examination will help us form our will and become better people. As the Prophet Jeremiah sings in his Lamentations: “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!” (La. 3:40)

Team members Christian, Amanda, and Austin wrote the following examination, based on the Ten Commandments, to help you in this task.

Prayer Before Examining Your Conscience
O Holy Spirit, please guide my heart and my mind. Help me to recall my sins so that I may confess them and commit to being a better person. Guide me as I examine my conscience. Help me recognize my faults, do better in the future, and avoid sin from this day forward. Help me form my will, make it strong so that I am able to say no to all things that corrupt my soul. I want to please You and be a better Christian. I want to be an example to all my friends and loved ones. Amen.

The First – You shall have no gods before me
Do I love God more than things – money, clothes, popularity, appearance?
Do I set aside time to talk to God?
Do I stand up for my faith when challenged?

The Second – You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain
Do I use the Lord’s name casually, without even thinking?
Do I use cuss words to look tough or cool?

The Third – Remember the Sabbath day, keep it holy
Do I go to Mass on Sundays and holy days?
Do I receive the Eucharist respectfully?
Have I received communion without confessing a mortal sin?
Do I do unnecessary work or shopping on Sunday?

The Fourth – Honor your mother and your father
Do I honestly speak with respect to my parents?
Do I go behind my parents’ back when I want to do something that they disapprove of?
Do I use respectful words in describing my parents to others?
Do I recognize and appreciate the sacrifices that my parents make for me?
Do I take differences of opinion to my parents for discussion? Or do I turn them into fighting matches?

The Fifth – You shall not kill
Have I put myself, or others, in danger by driving recklessly? With drug, alcohol, or tobacco use? Have I harmed my body by not eating right? With self-mutilation? By using prescription drugs irresponsibly?
Do I stand up for the right to life, especially for the elderly, sick, and unborn?

The Sixth and Ninth – You shall not commit adultery
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife
Do I respect the dignity of my body?
Do I dress attractively, yet modestly (not to attract attention to my body)?
Do I keep my mind pure by avoiding inappropriate movies, video games, magazines, websites, etc.?
Do I control my fantasies?

The Seventh and Tenth – You shall not steal
- You shall not covet anything that is your neighbors
Do I respect others’ private property?
Do I cheat at school or pressure others to help me cheat?
Am I jealous or greedy? Or am I thankful for God’s gifts to me?

The Eighth – You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
Have I lied to keep out of trouble rather than own up to my mistakes?
Do I lie to myself in order to justify my actions?
Do I gossip or exaggerate stories to look cool in front of my friends?
Do I keep my promises?

Ask before going to confession
How long has it been since my last good confession?
Did I hide any sins from the priest?
Did I do the penance the priest gave me?

“I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness which is madness.” (Eccles. 7:25)