Examination of Conscience – A Meditation

Last night, I prepared the young people to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation by leading them in a meditative examination of conscience.

First, we talked about the practical steps involved in going to confession. I was pleased to find that in general, they were very familiar with how to go to confession and very relaxed about it. This can be credited to the program offering the sacrament twice a year: Advent and Lent. For some reason, last year’s class was kind of “freaked out” about the idea of going to confession.

Then, I led them in a meditative examination of conscience. After going through the typical steps of getting them to be relaxed and quiet (never an easy task!), I asked them to imagine that they were entering a room that had nothing in it but a big screen TV, a VCR, and a videotape of their life over the past few months.

They insert the tape and put it on fast-forward play, so that they can see their lives over the past few months unfold in rapid fashion. With that image, I then slowly read a list of questions that ask them to reflect on how well they have loved God and their neighbors. The questions were based on the Ten Commandments and were in the back of the Finding God text book. (Most texts have a version of an examination of conscience in them or on the publisher’s web site).

After going through the questions, I paused and told them to simply finish fast-forwarding through their imaginary videotape, looking at the events of their lives in recent weeks and months to identify where and how they have personally “come up short” in terms of loving God and neighbor. I let them sit quietly for just a couple of minutes, identifying what they will tell the priest next week.

I finished by inviting them to ask Mary to help them make a good confession next week and we prayed a Hail, Mary.

In all, I thought it went pretty well and I think they are well-prepared for a good experience of reconciliation next week. I reminded them that it is a healthy thing to be able to admit sinfulness to another human being (the priest, who represents Jesus and the Church) and to actually hear the words of forgiveness and absolution spoken out loud.

Just one thing: I wonder if I need to update my meditation to a DVD instead of a VCR!!!

About Joe Paprocki 2489 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

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