It’s the call we hear every year during Lent: “Return to me with your whole heart” (Joel 2:12). Why? Because, Joel continues, the Lord is “gracious and merciful, . . . abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment” (2:13). As this month’s essays explore, God is good. He never gives up on us; he wants to forgive, heal, and make us whole.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation provides a unique opportunity to experience this goodness and mercy of God, especially during the season of Lent. Nervous? Try picturing God as a loving Father welcoming you back home. Imagine how eager he is to embrace you and help you as you confess your sins to him. As you do, you’ll begin to experience Jesus’ victory over sin as your own personal victory! The following examination of conscience, based on the article on pages 10-15, is meant to help you prepare for this sacrament. The questions on the opposite page are intended to get you started, to prompt your own personal examination. As you read and pray through them, ask the Holy Spirit to help you see where you need God’s forgiving, healing touch. Then turn to the Lord in Confession, and let him welcome you back.
Loss of Harmony with God
• Does God have first place in my life, or do other interests or obligations take all my time and attention?
• How have I pursued a stronger relationship with God? Do I pray every day? Do I receive the sacraments faithfully?
• Have I fallen short of giving God the respect he’s due or taken God’s name in vain?
“Return to me,” God says. “Let me bring you into my heart of love.”
Loss of Harmony with Each Other
• Do I see the value and dignity in each person? How do I treat people who don’t agree with me or who treat me badly?
• Have I tried to steal recognition that was due to someone else or take credit for something I didn’t do?
• Do I give in to anger or frustration with the people close to me? Do I lose my temper or insult people?
“Return to me,” God says. “Let my mercy teach you to be merciful.”
A Clouded Mind
• Do I trust in God’s goodness? Or do I try to satisfy my desires all by myself?
• Do I look to material possessions to make me happy? Am I generous with my money and time?
• Do I engage in impure thoughts or fantasies? Do I act on them?
• Is my mind occupied with resentful thoughts from past hurts?
“Return to me,” God says. “Let me heal your divided, conflicted mind.”