Friday, August 20, 2010

The Daily Mass Readings as an Examination of Conscience

The Word of God is "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). That sword is more than capable of piercing our sinful minds and hearts, shedding light upon the spiritual and moral darkness of our souls.

Today's Responsorial Psalm for the Memorial of Saint Bernard, Psalm 119, is an extended meditation on fidelity to God's word: "How shall a young man be faultless in his way?  By keeping to your words. With all my heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commands" (Ps 119: 10-11).

There are many fine ways to make an examination of conscience.  Certainly a review of the Ten Commandments is the most common one.  A consideration of our thoughts, words, and deeds in light of the virtues and vices is another.  Let us approach the daily readings at Mass as yet another trustworthy way to prepare ourselves for a good Confession.

As I taught seminarians over the past few years, I discovered something that every teacher has long recognized, namely, that there is great power in the statement, "This will be on the exam."  Suddenly, as if awakening from slumber, the students reach for their pens to jot down the words just uttered.  "Uh, Father, would you mind repeating that?"

On Judgment Day, God's Word will be a most relevant topic for examination.  Let us examine ourselves now in the light of that Word, and hasten to Confession.

1 comment:

  1. Do you mean that seminarians doze in class just like I did?

    I remember in a geology class being terribly bored by the many depictions of examples of rock strata (disconformities, unconformities,etc.) the professor drew on the board, thinking he'd never ask that. But I did copy two of them. Fortunately, one was on the final.

    I'm sure that God will have lots of things on His Final that I might have dozed through. I find as I grow older, though, I am paying attention more.