There used to be a common practice among Catholics called the “examination of Conscience”. An examination of conscience is a “prayerful self-reflection on our words and deeds in the light of the Gospel to determine how we may have sinned against God and others” Perhaps some of you still do this, particularly before receiving the Sacrament of Penance. Many times, people will look at the Ten Commandments to examine their sinfulness.
While this is a good start, the Ten Commandments are not the only instrument we should use to judge ourselves. Reflecting on the Beatitudes (Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek…etc) is an excellent way of continuing to reflect and examine ourselves.
Pope Francis recently reminded us that the Beatitudes are, in some sense, the identity card of the Christian because they identify us as followers of Jesus. He says that we are called to be blessed, to be followers of Jesus, to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus. Thus we ought to be able to recognize and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy. The pope also suggested some modern day beatitudes. While they do not replace the ones of Jesus, of course, they should give us something to think about, and to use when we examine our conscience.
- Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted upon them by others, and forgive them from their heart.
- Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized, and show them their closeness.
- Blessed are those see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him.
- Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.
- Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.
- Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.
All these are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness, and surely they will receive from him their merited reward.