Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Search Me Oh God: Examining Your Conscience

My blog about internet pornography lead me to write about this. Catholic Christians have this great thing called "The examination of conscience." Sounds legalistic, and where is it in the Bible you say? Well, it's based on the Ten Commandments and is a wonderful tool the Church has given us to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts about where we might be hiding or sequestering sinful, thoughts actions or motives. Psalm 139 23-24 says "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." That's what you are praying when you perform an examination of conscience.

Man, if I used this as an evangelical, I would have been in much better shape spiritually! Instead I sometimes took the "I'm free in the Spirit and forgiven so I can do whatever the heck I want" approach. I didn't really think that but sometimes my life reflected that philosophy. The "once saved always saved heresy" can really be a deadly trap. Even though we were encouraged to "keep short accounts with God" I never understood how to do that and mumbling a few "I'm sorry Jesus" before falling to sleep seemed to suffice....sort of. By thinking we can't lose our salvation, the concept of a "sin unto death" (as 1 John says) loses its meaning. Catholics call that mortal sin to distinguish it from venial sins that don't lead to spiritual death, at least not immediately.

The beauty of the the examination of conscience is that it is a tool to be used in conjunction with and preparation for the sacrament of reconciliation. We are not just left hanging on a hook after God shows us our sins. He then takes them all and forgives them through the power he gave through His Church which he obtained for us by his death on Calvary. The priest doesn't forgive sins, Jesus forgives us through the priest in our act of humbling ourselves before God in the confessional. Of course we aren't forgiven unless we are truly sorry, but that goes without saying. Here's the examination of conscience using the Ten Commandments .

The First Commandment:
I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me.
Do we truly love God above all, or do we sometimes give greater importance to things of this world: money, image, looks, clothes, popularity or selfish desires?
Do we claim to have good values, but often bend or abandon them in order to fit in and be "part of the group?"
Do we turn to God in thankful prayer, or do we pray mostly when we want something?
Do we really want to be transformed by the will of God, or do we just use our religion in order to "look" like good Christian people?
The Second Commandment:

You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.
Do we show disrespect for God's name by misusing it out of frustration or anger or to look "tough" to others?
Do we hesitate to mention God's name in appropriate situations, in conversations with friends and family members?
Do we continue to learn about God by paying attention in Church, Christian education and through reading orthodox Catholic periodicals, and scripture?
Do we view movies that use vile language and take the Lord's name in vain?
The Third Commandment:

Remember to keep holy the Lord's day.
Do we come to Church to celebrate the Eucharist on Sundays and Holy Days? Do we attend Mass only when it is convenient or when it will make us "feel good?"
Do we participate in the Eucharist by praying and singing, or do we simply sit as spectators and wait to be entertained?
Do we pay close attention to the Word of God and open ourselves to God's call to allow His word to take effect in our lives?
Do we acknowledge the "true presence" of Christ in the Eucharist and receive Holy Communion with respect and reverence?
The Fourth Commandment:

Honor your father and your mother.
Do we help bring peace and happiness to our families, or are we disrespectful of others and a source of hurt and division for those who are closest to us?
As parents, are we generous and patient with our children? Do we spend time with them and give them the attention they need? Do we set responsible limits for them and make sure they follow rules that will help them grow into responsible adults?
Are we willing to say "no" to our children, or are we more likely to ignore problem behavior and hope it will "go away?"
Do we listen to our children carefully and treat them with respect?
As children, are we loving, respectful and obedient to our parents? Do we appreciate the many sacrifices they make for us? Do we say "Thank you" and "I love you" often enough?
Do we do our chores without being asked, or do we wait for our parents to become upset before we move away from what we are doing?
Do we listen to our parents' reasoning when they say "no" to us?
The Fifth Commandment:

You shall not kill. *
Have we injured another person through carelessness or fighting?
Have we placed ourselves or others in danger because of reckless use of alcohol or other drugs? Have we caused difficulties for ourselves or others because of their use?
Have we risked our lives by driving or riding with someone under the influence alcohol or other drugs?
Do we strive to forgive those who have hurt us, or do we hold on to resentment and desire for revenge?
Do we use our powers of influence well, especially our voting rights, in order to fight war, oppression, abortion and injustice, or do we allow those evils to continue by our apathy and our silence?
Have we been violent or abusive either in action or in speech? Have we been verbally abusive to our children or other family members?
Do we share what we have with those in need? Do we support the life and mission of the Church by responsible stewardship - sharing our time, talent and treasure?
Do we bring our Christianity to every day situations, or do we stand on the sidelines and complain about every flaw we can detect in others?

The Sixth Commandment:

You shall not commit adultery.
Do we respect the dignity of the human body and the holiness of Christian marriage? Do we show that respect in our speech, or are crude language and jokes often part of our conversations?
Do we understand and appreciate the gift of our sexuality as a means of expressing our love [and God's love] in the Sacrament of Marriage?
Are we open to the gift of life in our marriage?
Do we use artifical contraception?
Have we been faithful to our marriage, priestly or religious vows? Do we keep our commitments simply because we said we would, or do we seek to nourish ourselves and others through our lifetime commitments?
Have we dishonored our bodies by fornication, masturbation or unworthy conversation or thought leading to impure actions?
Have we encouraged others to sin by our failure to maintain good moral standards?
Do we attend movies or rent DVD's that exploit God's gift of sexuality outside of the marriage covenant?
Have we viewed pornography on-line or read pornographic literature on-line or in print?
Do we watch televison programs that incite lust and impure thoughts?
The Seventh Commandment:

You shall not steal.
Do we respect the property of other people? Have we stolen, damaged or vandalized the property of others?
Have we cheated at work or in school? Have we encouraged others to sin by pressuring them into helping us cheat?
Are we honest and hardworking in school and at work? Do we use work time for our own pursuits?
Are we faithful to our promises? Can we be trusted?
The Eighth Commandment:

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Have we lied to stay out of trouble or to avoid a difficult situation?
Do we gossip about others? Have we damaged the reputation of another person by exaggeration or making up stories about them?
Can we be trusted with a secret?
Do we stand up for those unjustly accused, or are we merely a channel through which rumors pass, whether or not they are true?
The Ninth Commandment:

You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
Have we weakened or damaged our marriage commitment through our obsession with another person?
Do we respect the commitments of others and help them remain faithful to their promises?
Do we treat our marriages casually in our conversations and attitudes? Have we said or done anything which made a mockery of our sacred promises?
Do we dress in a way that would lead others to break this commandment?
The Tenth Commandment:

You shall not covet your neighbor's goods.
Are we satisfied with what God has given us, or are we jealous of those who seem to have more?
Do we try to prove we are better than others by bragging or buying more things?
Do we appreciate our own good qualities, or do we constantly compare ourselves with others and become resentful or bitter?
Do we cope well with the problems that confront us and maintain our Christian hope in spite of hard times and difficulties?
Do we truly "seek first the Kingdom of God" in our lives and place our trust in Him?
Do we reflect the peace, hope and joy of a people redeemed and made holy by the Blood of Christ?

I encourage you to copy, paste this, shrink it down, laminate it and keep it in the wallet or bedside table. Even if you are not Catholic it can be a great aid used by the Holy Spirit to assist you in walking closer to Jesus. Which is what it's all about. God bless!


Blogger and also with you said...

The men's group at my parish is working through Scott Hahn's "Lord, Have Mercy," which has a similar EoC as an appendix. I love the Sacrament of Reconcilation because it deals with sin so explicitly and confers God's grace and forgiveness so explicity.

Thanks for all the encouraging posts on your blog!

October 25, 2006 4:19 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks so much for stopping by!
The Sacrament of Reconciliation alone is one of the best reasons to come back to the Church!! Not including the Blessed Sacrament!
Never did I ever think I would look forward to confession but a franciscan monk once said "When you go to confession, you are speaking into the ear of God"
And then to hear those words of absolution!!! There is an immediate sense of peace as the grace of God is pured out on us in the confessional!
It's not just a psychological emotional thing but God gives us grace to assist in the avoidance of sin as well down the road. I will have to get that book by Dr. Hahn. I have seem him talk about it in segments on EWTN
God bless

October 25, 2006 4:43 PM  

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