Archive for the ‘Examination of Conscience’ Category

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 12, 2011

The Parable in today’s Gospel is focused on a topic that can be difficult to hear about: judgment. The point of Our Lord’s Parable is that we will all be judged by God based on what we have done (or not done) with the graces that He has given to us. Our culture doesn’t like the idea of judgment because judgment is generally perceived only as a negative. Judgment is often thought to be a harsh concept. In reality, we have to make judgments everyday; judgments are not always easy to make, but they are necessary.

We have to keep in mind that judgments are not only negative; we also make positive judgments. When we choose something or some course of action above another, we are saying that it is better than the other possibilities. When we give an award to someone, we are saying that we judge them to have done well. In the Parable today, Our Lord gives two examples of positive judgments before the negative one. Sometimes we can forget the positive judgments and focus solely on the negative, but if we forget focus only on the third servant and forget the first two, we will have a distorted notion of judgment. The first servant, who had received five talents, and the second servant, who had received two talents, both came to their master and said: you gave me these talents, see what I have done with them: I have doubled them. Those servants knew that they used the talents given to them well and they were proud of their accomplishment. They did not fear having to make a report to their master; they did not fear his judgment because they knew that their master would be pleased by their actions. And the master praised them: well done, good and faithful servants, share in your master’s joy.

When we do well, we like being praised for it. When a student gets a good report card, or when a sports team brings home the trophy, that is a judgment: it is a judgment that that person, or that team has done well what they set out to do. They excelled: they exhibited excellence. Only when we know that we have done poorly do we dread judgment. The servant who did not use his talent well, knew that he did not make good use of what his master gave to him: and as a result, he feared his master’s judgment.

Notice that all three servants were judged based on what they had been given. Each of the three freely received the talents according to his ability, and each was expected to do something based on what was received. Each servant was given what he needed to succeed; even the servant who only received one talent could have been successful, if he had been a faithful servant. Everything that we have that is good has come to us from the hand of the Lord. God has given us all the gifts that we have for our own enjoyment, but also so that we can build up His Kingdom. Each one of us has freely received and we will all be judged based on what we have done or not done with the gifts that we have received. We all have what we need to labor faithfully in the vineyard of the Lord: the question is whether we will use the gifts we have received wisely, or will we squander them.

It is good to examine our hearts: to ask ourselves what we have done with the gifts that God has entrusted to us. God has given us the gift of life: every breath is a gift from God. We can ask ourselves: What have we done with our lives? Have we lived good lives? Do we strive to put God first? Do I try to love our neighbor, or do I always put myself first? Have I tried to imitate Christ? As a Christian, I am supposed to be a follower of Christ: to follow Christ means to imitate Him. Have I tried to develop the virtues?
Besides the gift of life, we have also received many spiritual and material blessings. I have to ask myself: am I attached to material things? In other words: do material things hold the first place in my heart: are they more important to me than other people; are they more important to me than my relationship with God?
God has given each one of us many spiritual blessings: we have been given the gift of faith: we are able to know and love God because He has revealed Himself to us through Sacred Scripture and through His Church. Have we studied Scripture? How well do we know our Catholic Faith? Do we try to learn about our faith/do we study and pray with Scripture? Are we able to share our faith with others/are we able to defend our Catholic Faith? Our Lord said that we are to be light in the world: we are to help others come to know and love God and His Church.

God has given us access to His grace: He shares His divine life with us through the Sacraments. Do we appreciate these gifts and receive them with reverence and devotion? Do we do what we can to prepare our hearts to receive the Sacraments worthily? Do we thank God after we have received Him in Holy Communion; do we thank God after we have received Absolution in the Sacrament of Confession?

These are some of the talents (some of the gifts) that we have received from God. It is good for us to remember that one day we will be called upon to give an account of how we have used those gifts. Let us use well the gifts that God has given to us: if we do, we will have no fear of God’s judgment. Let use the gifts that we have received in a way that deserves praise: may we live our lives in such a way that when we come to the end of our journey, we may hear Our Lord say to us: well done, good and faithful servant: share in your Master’s joy.

August 15th

August 18, 2010

The two most important commands are to love God above all things, and to love others as we love ourselves out of love for God.  If we truly live those two commandments, we will become Saints.

We are all called to be Saints.  To become a Saint, we do not have to do extraordinary things; to become a Saint, we only have to faithfully live out the daily duties of our vocations in an extraordinary way: in love.  All sin is a failure to love the way that we are called to love.  In order to rid ourselves of sin, we first have to be aware of our sins.

A good way to begin rooting sin out of our hearts is by getting into the habit of regularly examining our consciences.  Saint Ignatius of Loyola taught his followers to examine their consciences everyday.  A daily examination can help us become more aware of our sins and then when we are more aware of our sins we can develop a plan to overcome them.

Saint Ignatius recommended setting aside time everyday to examine your conscience.  This doesn’t have to be a long process; it can be done in the matter of a few minutes.

Before you begin the examination, ask the Holy Spirit for assistance.  Then, review your day in your mind.  Try to recall what you did and with whom you interacted throughout that day.

Saint Ignatius also taught his followers to not only pay attention to the faults or sins committed, but also to thank God for all the blessings that were received that day.

Over time, most people begin to realize that they tend to fall into the same sin again and again.  The sin that one most often commits Saint Ignatius called the “predominant” sin or fault.

Once you have identified a predominant sin, it is good to focus in on overcoming that sin.  It can be helpful to focus on overcoming one sin or fault at a time instead of trying to overcome all of our faults at once (which could be an overwhelming task).

During the daily examination, think especially about the predominant fault that you are trying to overcome.  Thank God for the victories you have had that day; ask for His mercy on any times that you may have failed.  Ask God to give you the help you need in overcoming that fault.

Try to learn from the times that you have fallen.  Learn to know the circumstances that lead you to fall and then ask the Holy Spirit to show you a way to overcome those circumstances in the future.  Having a concrete plan works much better than a vague resolution.  Remember, too, that Reconciliation is a powerful channel of God’s grace.

God bless,

Father White