The Word Among Us

Lent 2008 Issue

Use Your Head

An Examination of Conscience for Lent

It’s tempting, sometimes, to think of our minds as a hindrance to a deeper life with God: If only my mind weren’t going a mile a minute. . . . I just don’t have the willpower to stick to my Lenten resolutions. . . . I know I shouldn’t think that way, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. . . . I’d be holier if I could just turn my mind off. . . .

But while it’s true that our minds can be unruly, Jesus hardly wants us to leave them behind as we follow him! Rather, he wants to transform the way we think and act.

So this Lent, why not bring your mind to the Lord—your ability to reason, decide, remember, and imagine? Why not examine your inner life to see where you might need his healing, transforming touch?

The following examination of conscience is meant to help you in this conversation with God. Feel free to adapt it in any way that you find helpful. Just remember that God has great things in store: “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God.” Remember that “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:12,16).

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord. . . . I will recite all your works; your exploits I will tell.”
—Psalm 77:12-13
  • Do I try to remember God as I go about my day? Have I carried out my everyday duties out of love for him?
  • Do I nourish my relationship with God through regular prayer and Scripture reading? Am I growing in understanding my faith?
  • Is God first in my life and thoughts? Or are there areas that I am holding back—secret parts that I don’t want to expose to him?
  • How am I doing with keeping Sunday holy? Have I attended Mass faithfully and reverently?
  • Have I rested from my usual work?
  • Have there been ways in which I have exalted myself over the Lord? Ways in which I have not given him credit for my gifts and talents?
“I urge you . . . in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.”
—1 Corithians 1:10
  • Have I pursued unity in my relationships? Have there been situations in which my words, attitudes, or actions have fostered division?
  • Am I harboring anger, resentment, or hatred toward anyone? Is there anyone I need to forgive? Is there anyone whose forgiveness I need to ask?
  • Have I made an effort to see and support the good in others, even those with whom I disagree?
  • Have I let myself get caught in other destructive thought patterns—for example, discouragement, bitterness, undue anxiety, envy, prideful self-reliance?
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
—Philippians 4:8
  • Do I spend too much time on idle pursuits that distract me from the calling God has given me?
  • Am I vigilant about what images and thoughts I entertain? Do I need to repent of any sins against purity?
  • Have I opened myself to the occult in anyway?
  • How have I taken up the call to form and educate my mind and use it in God’s service?
“Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
—Romans 12:2
  • Have I set my heart on acquiring money, status, and material things?
  • Have I shoplifted, cheated on my income taxes, or stolen anything? Do I need to make restitution?
  • What is my attitude to parents, teachers, employers, and all legitimate authority? Have I shown appropriate honor and respect?