Nov 19, 2021 filed under Gratitude.

woman writing a good examination of conscience

Am I the only one who thought that the nightly examination of conscience was supposed to be a list of everything I did wrong? I always found it too daunting after a long workday, about to hit the pillow, to have to scan the day for snippy comments I made, or times I scarfed too much ice cream or failed to call my favorite aunt. So I glossed over that part in praying Night Prayer.

A retreat book set me straight. I discovered that a daily examination can begin with this question: “How has God been working in my life today?” I can do that! That’s a much easier question!

St. Catherine of Siena wrote that the purpose of our memory is to contemplate the good things God has done for us. She’s talking about gratitude. A study at the University of California measuring stress levels of college students showed 28% less stress in those who wrote down things they were grateful for every day.

If we start our examination with gratitude for specific ways God has worked in our day (thank you, God, that I had the right words for the co-worker whose mother just died), then the things I could have done better appear by themselves (I could have called my aunt instead of surfing Facebook yet again).

At end-of-day we can more easily see the things that God has smoothed out—and the times we resisted His grace, which helps us do better next time. And our examination gives us a ready-made reference for our next confession — and what we can focus on improving tomorrow. And the examination doesn’t have to happen at the end of the day when we’re tired. We can do it any time.

The purpose of the examination of conscience is to grow spiritually. And spiritual growth means growing in virtue—being closer to Jesus. A grateful reflection at any time of day on what God has done for us and how we might have responded more fully is a great way to examine our soul in the full light of God’s generous love and his inexhaustible mercy.

Love always,

12 Responses to “Don’t Forget the Good Stuff”

  1. Mary Stroud

    Thank you for sharing. Your hints on an examination of conscience are most appreciated and helpful.

  2. Kay

    Thank you for this reminder that God wants our gratitude as well as reflection on what we could do better next time.

  3. Liz Tomaszeski

    Thanks so much , Rose. This is a wonderful reflection on gratitude and our evening examination of conscience.
    Wishing you and all a
    Happy Thanksgiving 🍁

  4. Kathy

    Thanks Rose, this is a great way to start the process of examining our conscience. Blessed Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones. 🙏🦃

  5. Anne

    Thank you Rose. I usually get in bed and after my night prayers I think of all the ways I let people down. I can’t wait to start using your more positive examination.
    Happy Thanksgiving sweet Rose.

  6. Tom Roberts

    I have overlooked this opportunity for years, thinking of it as an end of day autopsy. But the gratitude list at the end of the day; why not? At any rate I have incorporated it into my “Pre-flight checklist,” the comb-bound pages I take with me to daily and Sunday mass. I arrive early, nearly always before anyone else and go into the checklist, actually several lists including The Beatitudes, Blessed John XXIII’s “Only for today,” Psalm 23 “The Lord is My Shepherd,” Mother Teresa’s “Do it Anyway” and why not my gratitude list?

    About that end of the day autopsy; most of these had been reflections on things people said to me which RUINED my day. So, why chronicle such depressing stuff? I spend too much time talking to my self that way. So, why indeed, except that one month or one week or one day later I can see what I wrote is all out of scale emotionally. It was not the end of the world! It’s right in there with all the good stuff in John XXIII’s “Only for Today.” The incident that pops to my mind was my neighbor’s “Your cat is using my lawn for a toilet.” That was good for three days of despair.

    Despair; it’s actually a sin. How can despair be a sin, I’m the guy who’s hurt, or to be more contemporary, I’m the victim! But if despair is a sin that means I can do something about it; basically learning how not to “do” despair. It could be as simple as writing my despair down at night and looking what I wrote three days later . . . Wow, it’s in my handwriting but did I write this stuff?

  7. Rose

    Helen sent this by email:
    Wow oh wow. I just read about your examination of conscience. I am totally blown away by this idea. I can’t wait to go to bed tonight. I might just not wait for bed. I just might wait until I am quiet. Thank you so much and I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving day. And I pray that you are not alone.

  8. mary herstein

    I need to put into practice the gift f gratitude. St Padre Pio said that the absence of gratitude in mankind was a sin He had trouble forgiving, I may journal this or make it a part of my bedtime prayer. Thank you so much dear Rose for this Thanksgiving reminder of the need to pray our gratitude.