“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths!” These words of Prophet Isaiah that was repeated by Saint John the Baptist in today’s gospel reading, is the message of today’s readings. Last week, the first Sunday of Advent, Jesus taught us how we can prepare ourselves for His coming by stating that we have to be watchful and alert. We were reminded that being watchful and alert in preparation for the coming of the Christ Child entailed: Doing a thorough examination of conscience; Purifying ourselves through our participation in the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation; Being one with Christ in constant prayer, mortification and in the worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist at Mass; and Living out God’s love in the world through acts of charity and kindness. Today we would concentrate on the first step in preparation for the coming of Christ which is, Doing a thorough examination of conscience. What is an Examination of Conscience? An Examination of Conscience is the spiritual practice of reflecting quietly and prayerfully on one's thoughts, words, and deeds in order to identify one’s sins and failings. Making a good examination of Conscience helps us start a new life of faith in God. A good Catholic examination of conscience has to be thorough, so that we can find out our faults, sins and failings and learn about things that we may not be aware of. It is also a great opportunity or practice that helps us develop a better conscience. So how can we make a thorough and good examination of Conscience? To make a thorough and good examination of Conscience, we have to: (1) Set aside a good and quiet time for spiritual reflection. (2) Begin with an invocation of the Holy Spirit, to help us make a good examination of conscience. (3) Read through the Ten Commandments:

  1. I am the LORD your God. You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.
  2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
  4. Honor your father and your mother.
  5. You shall not kill.
  6. You shall not commit adultery.
  7. You shall not steal.
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods. (4) Read through the Precepts of the Catholic Church,
  11. You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.
  12. You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
  13. You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
  14. You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
  15. You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church. (5) After reading the Ten Commandments and the Precepts of the Catholic Church, we have to sincerely and honestly reflect on our behavior for each of them, (6) Lastly, with a sorrowful and contrite heart, we pray the Act of Contrition. My brothers and sisters, let us start preparing the way of the Lord and make straight His paths this Advent season, as we are told in today’s readings, by doing a thorough examination of our consciences, that is by prayerfully reflecting on our thoughts, words, and deeds in order to identify our sins and failings, confess them, and go back to God.