Examination of Conscience for Teenagers

Many years ago I prepared an examination of conscience for Confirmation Candidates based on the Gospel passage from Matthew where Jesus tells us WE are the Salt of the earth and light of the world.

After the proclamation of the Gospel, the examination was read slowly by 2 catechists leaving enough silence between each section for reflection.

Another time we asked the candidates to reflect on the elements of salt and light. After a short while we asked them to choose one of the metaphors and used the co-responding examination with each group.

 

YOU ARE the salt of the earth and light of the world.

Think about salt, what does it do? It makes a difference

salt piles

It seasons:

When have you failed to make a positive contribution to your worshipping community?

Your family?

Your work or school?

Your friends?

 

It preserves:

When have you failed to keep something fresh?

When have you allowed a relationship to go stale through inattention?

How do you keep your relationship with the Lord fresh?

 

It cleanses and heals:

How does the Gospel help you to live morally?

Where do you need healing, in mind – thoughts, desires, beliefs, ideals?

in body – attitude to food, self image, harmful substances,

in spirit – relationships, faith, prayer, rest.

 

It adds buoyancy:

How often do you allow yourself to come before the Lord and just be?

How does your behaviour keep others afloat?

 

It can increase thirst:

Does your behaviour invite others to ask about Jesus?

 

It is something of value:

Do you believe you are made in the image and likeness of God?

How does this affect your actions?

Where have you not valued yourself?

Or others?

What do you value most?

Does your focus need to change?

When have you allowed an invitation to make a difference slip through your hands?

 

It is a mineral:

Where have you not been respectful of the earth?

Where could you make a change to live as a good steward?

 

Think about light, what does it do? It enables us to see   

  light

It illuminates:

Where do you take the Light of Christ for granted?

When are you aware of needing Light to help you?

 

It cannot be hidden:

What actions would you like to hide from the light?

 

It reveals:

How often do you ignore what Christ reveals to you?

 

It comforts:

Where have you not comforted those in need?

 

It creates a shadow:

Where are you only part of who you are called to be?

Which actions work out of your shadow side?

 

It is radiant:

Where do you not allow the truth to shine through?

What stops you from being truly beautiful?

 

It guides:

When do you cause others to stumble?

What stops you from being a guide?

The gift of abundant love

Last week the young people with whom I have been working in preparation for Confirmation participated in a Reconciliation Service.

The entered the church anxious and unsure of what to do and what to expect. For those of us who work with young people this comes as no surprise; the sacrament of Reconciliation is not high on their priorities. Many, unless they attend Catholic Schools, might have only vague memories of their first reconciliation just before making their first Holy Communion.

‘Do I go into the box?’ – if you want to.

‘What do I say? I haven’t learnt that prayer.’ – it’s ok it’s on your sheet.

‘What if I forget what to say?’ – ask the priest to help you.

‘I can’t tell him, it’s too awful’ – Oh my dear child, and I gave her a hug.

And so after the Gospel and a guided examination of conscience based upon it* all the Candidates accepted the invitation for personal confession. Sitting in such a prayerful silence, they thought about their life with the Lord, entered into His love and sought His forgiveness.

hqdefault

It was a graced moment.

Now I have to come clean. I like the Sacrament of Reconciliation: I like the promise, I like the theology, I like the symbol, I like imagery, I like the Rite and the Ritual. However that is not to say I find it easy. ‘Fessing up to stuff is never easy, but I do believe that it is easier to confess, to seek forgiveness than not. Of course a good Confessor is important and I have chosen mine carefully. I have been with my Spiritual Director and Confessor for almost 10 years – there is not much he doesn’t know.  He sees the patterns I miss, he holds the bigger picture when I become mired down, he reminds me of the hope when I despair.

It is through prayer and the Sacrament of Reconciliation that I have come to know the God of second chances. No matter what we have done, or failed to do, the Lord calls, invites, nudges us time and time again to repent, to turn back to the Him. As in the story of the Prodigal Son He waits for us, even humiliating Himself by hitching up his robes and running to meet us, clasping us in His unconditional forgiving embrace.

prodigal_father_christian_sculpture_lg.jpg by Tom White
prodigal father christian sculpture by Tom White

We are all as Ignatius calls us ‘loved sinners’ and therefore it is possible to approach the sacrament as one that is of help to our faith journey rather than something that shames and humiliates.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the many signs of God’s love for us, and God loves us with such an abundant love that we need not fear when we feel the Lord gently drawing us back to be the person we are called to be.

*Here is the examination of conscience based on Matthew 5:13-16.

If you use it and find it helpful please drop me a message.

 

YOU ARE the salt of the earth.

Salt seasons:

When have you failed to make a positive contribution to your

worshipping community?

To your family?  To your school?

To your relationships?

Salt preserves:

When have you failed to keep something fresh?

When have you allowed a relationship to go stale through inattention?

How do you keep your relationship with the Lord from going stale?

Salt cleanses/ purifies:

When is it difficult to speak out in moral situations?

When have you talked about someone? Spreading gossip, dirtying someone’s

character?

When have you spread untruths about someone to feel better about yourself?

Salt adds buoyancy:

How often do you allow yourself to come before the Lord and just be?

How does your behaviour keep others afloat?

Salt increases thirst:

Does your behaviour invite others to ask about Jesus?

Salt is valuable:

Do you believe you are made in the image and likeness of God?

How does this affect your actions?

Where do you not value in yourself?

Or others?

What do you really value? When has your focus been on things of little value?

When have you allowed an invitation to make a difference slip through your hands?

Salt spoils: 

When have you not been gentle with yourself or others?

When have you been too loud? Too self righteous? Unwilling to listen to others?

When have you behaved in a way that is unhealthy for you? Your relationship with others? With the Lord?

YOU ARE the Light of the World

Light illuminates: Where do you take the Light of Christ for granted?

When are you aware of needing Light to help you?

It cannot be hidden:

What actions would you like to hide from the light?

Light reveals:

How often do you ignore what Christ reveals to you?

Light comforts: 

Where have you not comforted those in need?

Light radiates: 

Where do you not allow the truth to shine through?

What stops you from being truly beautiful?

Light guides:                                          

When do you cause others to stumble?

What stops you from being a guide?

Light creates shadow:                           

Which actions work out of your shadow side?

Feel free to use this examination of conscience with groups but please remember to reference me, thanks.