There is nothing else like the season of Lent. For forty days, Catholics throughout the world devote themselves to deepening their relationship with the Lord.
Try to imagine the scope and beauty of more than a billion people seeking the Lord, asking him to renew them both as individuals and as communities of faith.
As rosy a picture as this is, Lent is also a time of repentance. How could it not be? After all, as we try to draw closer to the Lord, we will inevitably uncover areas in our lives that need forgiveness. This is why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is central to this season. We want to be more like Jesus, but we have these obstacles in our way. And the best way to deal with them is in confession.
To help you prepare for this sacrament, we offer the following examination of conscience. As you work through these questions, ask the Holy Spirit to shine his light in your heart. Let him show you not only the sins you need to confess but also the grace that he is offering you. Ask him to show you not just what you have done or what you have failed to do. Ask him to show you the person you can become as he washes you clean and fills you with his life.
You shall love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
“Lord, have I kept my eyes on you as much as I should? Have I listened to doubts or distractions that turn me away from you? Do I allow fear or distrust to limit my love? Lord, you are perfect love; show me how to love you more.”
In all circumstances give thanks. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
“Lord, are there areas where I could be more thankful? Show me the times when I have spent my energy complaining and not thanking you. Are the people around me encouraged by my comments? Show me how to shine your light in my home, at work, and in my neighborhood.”
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory. (Philippians 2:3)
“Jesus, have I focused on myself more than others? Have there been times when I disregarded the needs of the people around me for my own benefit? Have my actions unintentionally damaged my relationships? Lord, teach me your ways.”
“Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?” “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22)
“Jesus, show me where I have held onto resentment, bitterness, or unforgiveness. Have I refused to share the mercy that I have received from you? Help me, Lord, to take the next step in forgiving people until every last remnant of unforgiveness is wiped from my heart.”
This is the will of God, your holiness: that you refrain from immorality. (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
“Lord, show me ways that my thoughts or actions have been impure. Have I dishonored someone by looking at them or thinking of them inappropriately? Have I given into bad habits or temptations? Show me the particular patterns of thought or action that lead me down the wrong path. Lord, I need your grace to live a life of holiness.”
God . . . brought us to life with Christ, . . . and raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens. (Ephesians 2:4-6)
“Jesus, I want to celebrate your death and resurrection with a clean conscience. Let my sin die with you. Restore me to new life so that I can come more deeply into your presence. Shower me with the immeasurable riches of your grace and love.”