In today’s gospel reading we are given the Advent figure, John the Baptist for our meditation and spiritual guidance this Advent season. John the Baptist starts his ministry by re-echoing the words of Prophet Isaiah ‘to prepare the way of the Lord,’ by proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The call to repentance is the focus of the season of Advent and that is why we were reminded last week of three essential ways of preparing for the coming of Christ. These essential ways are - Firstly, by an examination of conscience which is a prayerful reflection on our thoughts, words, and deeds in order to identify the sins we have committed and how we have strayed from God. The second is the sacrament of reconciliation/confession in which we show our contriteness by confessing our sins to receive absolution from the priest and forgiveness from God. The third is by practicing the act of interior purification through prayer and mortification so as to renounce our sins and avoiding earthly attachments to focus more on Christ our Savior.

Let us concentrate today on the first, that is, An Examination of Conscience. According to the Catholic Church’s teachings, there exists various types of examinations of conscience but the best of them should be rooted in Scripture; particularly, the Ten Commandments and the Precepts of the Church. So, in order to make a good examination of conscience, we have to:

  • Set aside some quiet time for prayerful reflection to focus ourselves.
  • Start by praying to or calling on the Holy Spirit, asking for help in making a good examination of conscience.
  • Read through the Ten Commandments and honestly reflect on our behavior for each commandment.
  • Read through the Precepts of the Church and sincerely reflect on our behavior for each.
  • Then lastly, pray the Act of Contrition to ask God for pardon and forgiveness for our sins.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us prepare the way of the Lord and make straight his paths this Advent season by utilizing the practice of an Examination of Conscience as a sincere and authentic way to true repentance and reconciliation with God. Amen!