Fr. Voigt- An Examination of Conscience
Sunday Reflection on the Pharisee and the Publican.
In the spiritual life the first spiritual habit that falls by the wayside is the examination of conscience. Prior to any spiritual act there should be an examination of conscience that seeks to discover whether I am acting from the motive of self satisfaction or for personal gain. The examination of conscience prior to actions of prayer or good deeds helps to purify the soul to do all for the glory of God and the salvation of one's soul. As we seek God's glory we recognize the depths to which sin penetrates the fallen human nature that we all possess.
In the case of the Pharisee he examines the other's conscience rather than his own. He condemns all others but himself. He commends himself for the tithing and the fasting. He is the "just" man who knows that he is heads up over all other created beings. His chariot in life is a union of justice driving the cart of pride. He will go up against the poor publican who examines his conscience and begins by bowing his head and repeating: "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner." This soul unites sin with humility. In the race for eternal life humility transforms sin into a stallion that passes up pride and justice any day of the week.
Let us take some time to evaluate our need for the particular examination and the general examination as means to grow in holiness of soul. In the general examination of conscience the soul glances at the dispositions which govern the thoughts, words and deeds of our daily life. In the general exam we discover how attached we are to God's will or to our own will. In the particular examination of conscience we focus upon our predominant
fault or disposition and determine the means to correct it. Each of these examinations lead the soul to a contemplative vision of life in which the soul develops a constant examination of our motivation and our action.
The examination of conscience helps us prepare for all the graces that come from the sacraments and the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The examination fosters within the soul the presence of God and in that presence we will avoid evil and do good. Often souls that begin to enter more deeply into the mystery of God's presence desire to make a general confession of a given period of time. Generally, this takes place at a retreat and the soul takes the time to penetrate more deeply into the spiritual patterns that expose themselves over time. The spiritual glance sets the tone of the examination and the sorrow that accompanies this pattern of confession excites the soul to a deeper commitment to imitate our Lord.
Our Lady told us this fact that many souls are falling into hell because they have no one to pray and make a sacrifice for them. The soul that examines its conscience well knows that Catholics are the salt of the earth and the light of the world and each one is meant to do penance and save souls. If we examine our souls well, then we realize we have missed a very important aspect of our spiritual lives. We fail to save souls because we don't desire to do it. God gives us many penances daily whether it be the heat or the cold of the day; it may be the pain in our backs or hips; it may be a misjudgment on the part of others; whatever it is - it is an opportunity to save a soul.
Now consider the Pharisee, did he desire to save the soul of another? What about the Publican who went away justified? Only the humble can save souls because they realize how sinful they have been. They are the ones that will go out of their way to save a soul because someone paid the price for them. Someone has paid the price for you. What a great gift we have received now it is up to us to share it with as many as we can. Desire
to save souls by the examination of your own conscience. May the Holy Ghost help you discover your hidden faults and sins for the "just man sins seven times daily." Practice the daily examination daily and come to love the light of God's love in you.
In the hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Fr. Richard Voigt
P.S. Tomorrow we will be putting up the chapel walls and finish the special niches for the Sacred Heart and the
Immaculate Heart. The stations have been ordered and souls like you are contributing to a chapel of reparation
for the sins of this world. Let us pray that it will do much good. Thanks to all who have contributed in so many