IT’S usually associated with school life, often striking
fear and terror on the poor students. But it actually should be
associated with all of us, and in fact, in all the levels and aspects
of our life. It’s a necessity for our effectiveness, if not, for our
Thus, in our more collective life of business and
politics, there are regular auditing and reporting to be made. We have
just heard, for example, the President’s report on the state of the
nation (SONA) which, in a way, is precisely an exercise of
To do regular examination is a must for all of us to see
if our life, our behavior, our conscience are still on the right
track. Otherwise, we open ourselves to all kinds of deviations.
It’s part of our human condition that we go through our
life having to make decisions, or at least to react to all kinds of
stimuli, internal or external, personal or social, material or
spiritual, etc.. All these we need to judge whether they are right or
wrong according to some relevant moral criteria.
Let’s hope that this need for regular examination be felt
by all of us, especially in the personal level, since the vitality and
effectiveness of our life, from its personal level to its most global
and even cosmic dimensions, greatly depends on that exercise.
It’s there in the examination of conscience where we
review our performance of the day in the moral sense. After all, the
moral quality of our life, the result of our moral human acts, holds
ultimate value over the other aspects of our life.
It’s in the examination of conscience where we sort out
things, trying to identify the motives of our thoughts, desires, words
and actions, and seeing if these motives are good or bad. This is not
an easy task at all. But with regular examination, somehow we can get
a good picture and devise the appropriate strategies.
It’s in the examination of conscience where we would have
a running account of the state of our soul. If we truly recognize the
objective value of our soul, then it would be most logical for us to
do everything to keep it healthy, strong and fruitful. The condition
of our soul ultimately determines the quality of our life.
And so, we would give priority to this act of piety that
actually would require just a little time, about 3 minutes, and
usually done at the end of the day, just before going to bed.
Obviously, some effort has to be exerted, and sometimes,
heroic effort, since we have to contend with our usual weaknesses of
laziness, mental and physical, and complacency, lukewarmness, shallow
thinking, and all kinds of distractions.
Our tendency is to get easily dominated by our
here-and-now conditions and often failing to see the bigger picture
that usually requires more investment on our part in terms of time,
interest and effort. We have to be ready to do battle against this
Besides, to make the examination of conscience, we need to
put ourselves first in the presence of God, since that exercise is not
simply a matter of psychologizing ourselves, or tweaking our emotional
state, or doing some introspection.
We have to be wary not to fall into downgrading this
crucial act of piety into a mere psychological or emotional exercise.
We would not see things properly that way. Worse, we most likely would
get unnecessarily entangled with complicated situations.
To be able to see the objective state of our soul, we need
to see it together with God who gives us the true light, more
penetrating than our X-rays and more extensive than what the sun can
With God, that is, with faith and trust in him, no matter
how ugly the state of our soul may be, we can always be reassured of
his mercy and help. When the examination of conscience is done this
way, there will always be peace and joy in the end.
Sure, there will be elements of fear, embarrassment, etc.,
involved, but love and mercy will win at the end of the day. We just
have to make sure that our examination of conscience is an intimate,
filial encounter with God our Father who is all too eager to
understand us, to pardon us and to help us in our needs.
If done properly, the examination of conscience is
actually a very happy moment for all of us, and a very good way to end
the day. When we say, “Sorry, Lord,” somehow things are patched up.