How often should we examine our conscience? A great deal more than many of us do. When we make the effort we should, made as part of our quest for salvation, do we find that our ego is religious and humble or filled with a light that is only ours, derived from awful sense of our self? Knowing this are we able to make this statement as a paraphrase of Christ's words and say, “Those who have been given more should examine themselves more?” There is a fact of which I am sure; we should not examine ourselves in our own light; that is according our own personal viewpoint and uninformed opinions.. Absolutely no way, that is why the Church states, albeit a little too quietly today, we must inform our conscience. As Jesuits of ages ago taught, we have free will, we must inform our conscience and then we have the frightening burden of choice. A burden, whose yoke, can be lightened by prayer and use of the promises made in scriptures by Christ. Christ we know is the truth of absolute perfection and is never false. I think of what I do constantly and hope it is as for me as the Psalmist prayed.
“O God, you know my foolishness; and my weakness, neither are my offenses hidden from thee: Let not them be ashamed for me, who look for You, O Lord, the Lord of hosts. Let not those who seek You be confounded by me, O God of Israel”.
To examine one’s conscience needs discernment of a different illumination and not the personal light of our thoughts unaided by the dogmas and doctrines of our Church. It must be in the light of the Church's teachings. It is dismaying so many in the Church nowadays have a theology of sin and of a grace that is radically out of line with the teachings of Christ and of course with what the Church really teaches. Calvinism and Protestant teachings have entered into our thinking. By grace I mean the Sanctifying Grace we receive through Baptism. So many in the Catholic Church believe once baptized we cannot loose Sanctity, we carry on in the state of grace that a solemn baptism brings, no matter how we act. It is the same as saying we cannot reject God. What then is free will? We hear those of us in the pews we are saved, we are seized by a Love that does not let go. We hear we do not sin and Luther’s grace abounds more where there is sin. In fact the theology of one group who claim the Church recognizes their authority have an underlying, unstated claim the state of grace they exist in, as shown by the gifts of the Holy Spirit they claim and use, makes their carnal actions as nothing in the eyes of God. This is not the Church.
I cannot believe the claim those half converted christians make, that Christ died for their sins, once and for all, never can they sin again. This is not what He did. What He did was He died so that sins up to His time were forgiven. He opened the Gate of Heaven and led those in Limbo, Abraham’s bosom, into His Father’s presence. He then after His resurrection put the forgiveness of sins in the hands of His Apostles and the sins of future times would be forgiven by the actions of His priesthood. For other methods of His forgiveness outside the Church we leave it in His Hands and judgment. We call that action of His Apostolic confessors the Holy and Mysterious Sacrament of Confession. Of course this act of ours, the Sacramental rite of Confession must include the admitting to the lack of Charity shown by us to the Church, the community in which we worship, and those very personal acts, we make so often, against the Love he gives us. Nevertheless all Catholics, as again so many do, cannot readily and easily dismiss His Method of Forgiveness given to us. It is for us in the Church, not to use it, is a blasphemy called denying a known truth, when we seek and acknowledge other methods outside the Church and her teachings. We cannot claim a personal relationship with Jesus by taking the Catholic Church out of the Religious Loop, going outside of the reasons of how and in what manner forgiveness of sins is delivered for His ecclesial community. It is a dismissal of God’s Providence. We should be very careful as Catholics in believing the false dogma some contumacious puffed up so-called elder teaches, even though it feels so right. Sins of which we are probably ignorant and never consider them in our examinations. There is Despair which is pride because we cannot do it ourselves. There is one so prevalent in the Church today, it is Envy of another's spiritual good, this extends from judgment that they are not Holy to a demand look at them they are showing off as we watch them at prayer. I mean look at those people in whom the virtue of religion really exists and the example of their bodily worship is or should be an example for all. We call them boastful. Then there is in the interior acceptance of our own mind that tells us God would not want us to do that. I say when you hear that from another turn and run, only personal prayer will tell you the truth. There is of course a sin seldom contemplated that if breaking the silence of another;s prayer by noisily and wantonly causing distractions in Church. Distractions that temps others into loosing patience with their brothers and sisters. Of course with this comes rationalizing that those distracted should know better.
It is only through the discipline of prayer we see in a proper light. We do truly need a hand from above to help us carry the Cross of our repentance. We truly need His help to discern the depth and scope of our sin in our examinations of our daily life. Please do not think badly of my methods and prayer as I share them with you now. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Discipline’ Wisdom Chapter One. For me prayer is not free form, not the conversation with God claimed by so many today. It is a steady disciplined plea expressing sorrow and asking for forgiveness and help. Is not the Lord’s Prayer truly a list of wants and needs on our part? Is it a free form prayer? No it came as a real prayer given to us by Jesus Christ on how to approach His and our Father. When, free from sin of all kinds, we may perhaps reach into Divine Contemplation the highest form of Prayer, I have no doubt that words of true adoration, true reverence and knowledge of God comes into the very depths of our heart then at the time. in the silence of Divine Contemplation. It is a prayer then as described by St Teresa of Avila coming from the interior chamber of our soul.
But how to be free from sin as Jesus told us and instructed us is to, “Repent! Repent! for the Kingdom of God is at hand”. Before He ascended, he told the Apostles about His power, then He remitted to them the forgiveness of sins and how they were to teach the World about Him and this includes the powers He had. Truly believing in His words I have no doubts if I do not believe in them I will be asked, “Why not?” as will we all. I mean all His words. We should definitely not depend on the blasphemies of His words gerrymandered by our own illuminations. So I go confession before a Catholic Apostolic Priest of the PapalChurch. I do redouble my prayers before the Cross in the days before I go to say, “Lord Jesus Christ, victorious, glorified and triumphant, before Your Cross I prostrate my soul in humble supplication to ask, “My God! My God! How have I offended You in what manner have I rejected You?”
Be careful of the results, since I have found for each time you say it extending the practice of using this prayer over the time it is used, brings you closer to Perfect Love and Charity and His grace sustains you. This is what you may discover. The dreadfulness of your deliberate and un-deliberate separations from the Love of God will at first frighten you, but his grace will sustain you in this fear and you will suffer interiorly according to the strength of your nature. It is a kind of those who are given more can take more. Fear of the Lord is the first virtue you will know you have attained and gradually the other virtues will develop. You will know almost without your realization, that is to find yourself a very real child of God. The virtue that will surprise you most is one we no longer hear about and that is the Virtue of Religion for true Charity will seize you strongly