By Father Larry Rice

Every year around this time, we are bombarded with lists. The top movies of the year. The best and worst dressed. Something about the ending of one year and the beginning of another prompts us to review and assess the year just past, and evaluate the high and low points.

This tendency to evaluate and make lists is deeply ingrained in us. In the Catholic spiritual tradition, we have a method of self-evaluation that might be a valuable spiritual exercise at this time of year. It’s called an “examination of conscience.” Although there are lots of different forms of this exercise, all of them are comprised of a structured list of questions to ask yourself, designed to help you determine where you might have gone wrong, what your spiritual weaknesses are, and even what you should have done that maybe you neglected to do.

If you’ve never done a formal examination of conscience, this might seem like a big downer. But this is a list that’s just between you and God. There’s no need to sugarcoat it. If, after going through the exercise, you’ve discovered some serious issues needing reconciliation and forgiveness, then you’re well prepared for the Sacrament of Reconciliation or confession. At a minimum, you’ll be able to base your Lenten sacrifice on something concrete.

If you’d like to locate an examination of conscience to reflect on, I recommend going to Google or your favorite internet search engine, and searching for the phrase “examination of conscience.” You’ll find several different versions you can try.

Copyright © 2020, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved.

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Fact of Faith

Facts of faith are great evangelization and teaching tools for your parish or school. With focuses on Church history, theology, saints, feasts, and seasons, these short documents can help answer many questions in your community. This material may also be included in bulletins, on web pages, or used on social media.