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Examination of Conscience

March 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Carmelite Spirituality, Dan Burke, Divine Intimacy, Examen, Lent

Examination of Conscience


Presence of God – O Lord, cast a ray of light on my soul, so that I may be able to see myself as You see me and as You judge me.


To insure an orderly and progressive growth in the spiritual life, we must know ourselves. We have to consider our sins, our weak points, our evil tendencies, as well as the progress we have already made, the favorable results we have attained, and our inclinations to good. This knowledge of our interior state is obtained through the examination of conscience. The examen, considered in this way, becomes one of the most important exercises of the spiritual life since its object is to help the soul to rid itself of everything that might obstruct or delay its journey to God and to stimulate it to quicken its pace toward Him. Just as we cannot wage war with an unknown enemy, or make conquest of an unknown region, in the same way, it is impossible to fight the evil in ourselves if we have not previously identified it. We can never attain sanctity if we have not looked for an efficacious means of acquiring it. In other words, the examination of conscience attains its end when the soul who has faithfully practiced this exercise can say to itself: these are the inclinations which I must watch more carefully to avoid falling into sin; these, the weak points which I must strengthen; these are the virtues that I must practice most of all. In this way, the soul will be able to formulate practical, firm resolutions which will then become the special subject of its subsequent examinations.

It is clear that we must first recognize and combat any tendencies which could lead us to mortal sin, but then, those that could bring us to venial sin or to simple voluntary imperfections must be similarly treated. Everything that constitutes a deliberate fault must be progressively and energetically rooted out of the soul which aspires to divine union.


“O God of my soul, what am I in Your presence! Have my acts ever been free from faults–my words, my will? But You, O Lord, are good and Your right hand is merciful.

“O Physician of my soul, show me the fruits of my avowal. I confess because the admission of my miseries awakens my heart and keeps it from slumber; but even while saying I am incapable of doing good, my soul awakes again in the love of Your mercy and the sweetness of Your grace, by which every sick soul feels strong and becomes aware of its weakness.

for post on examination of conscience“I shall love You, O Lord, and return thanks to You and exalt Your Name because You have pardoned so many of my guilty acts. If my sins have melted away like ice, it is the work of Your grace and mercy. All the evil that I have not committed was likewise the work of Your grace. Was there any sin that I could not have committed, I who have loved evil with so light a heart? I confess that all my sins have been forgiven, both those that I committed as well as those that, with Your help, I did not commit” (St. Augustine).

O my God, You who by one single act of Your will created light–and light was made–speak again Your all-powerful creative word: fiat lux, and light will be created in my soul; and, in Your light, I shall be able to see myself as I really am in Your sight.

But light is not enough for me who am so weak and cowardly; I need strength, O Lord; I need a strong, resolute will to hate evil in all its forms, to have a horror of my self-love, my pride, my sloth, to renew and strengthen my resolution to overcome myself for love of You.

Yes, Lord, with Your help I wish to conquer myself, not for the vain satisfaction of thinking that I am doing better, but solely to give You pleasure, to avoid even the smallest thing that displeases You, to grow in Your love, to enter into closer union with You. O my God, infinite Perfection, envelop and penetrate my soul with the reflection of Your holiness, and just as the sun illumines, purifies and makes the earth fruitful with its rays, illumine, purify, and sanctify my whole being. Teach me to look at myself with Your eyes, to know myself as You know me, to consider my miseries in the light of Your infinite perfections, to open my soul to Your purifying, sanctifying light.



Note from Dan: These posts are provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contain one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here:  Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.

Art for this post on Examination of Conscience: Gandzasar cathedral [of St. John the Baptist, in Gandzasar Monastery], in Kararbakh [Azerbaijan], 5 August 2007, Vladimer Shioshvili, CC, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • judeen

    purifing the soul… we try so hard to get rid of all our sins… yet as we grow in love of God on the journey .. later we see sins deep with in us… things we never though of before.. it is deep in the heart.. and keeps us from union with God…things we though were good , yet when really looked at are vanity or pride.. like wanting all your kids in church with you….one can think it is just for the soul… but when really looked at … it is that one has done a good job in raising them .. or all my family is here to see , they are all good.. which is pride and vanity.. yet a very good thing to want all one kids right with God.. we must trust God .. knowing in the right time God will bring them back.. not my will but Gods will…

  • patricia

    The consciousness of recognizing we are sinners and we depend on God like little children. Examine of conscience is so good to recognize the sins and faults we have and have commited it is also a time to recognize the blessings and graces God has given to us. St Ignatius teaches us this in his spiritual exercises. God is great he forgives he gives he loves us so unconditionally. We often fall into the trap of judging ourselves and so many times have I tripped up on this. A good confessor and spiritual director can be of some help with this to help us see with Gods eyes and judge with Gods heart.

  • Jeanette

    This is beautiful and so timely during the season of Lent…the season for repentance and conversion of heart. Examination of our hearts as to the reason we are sorry for our sins is revealing and important. Is it because we are upset with ourselves, due to pride, for having failed and sinned, once again? Or is the reason we are sorry because we love God so much that we don’t want to displease Him?

    • Camila

      Great questions Jeanette!

      This was so beautiful…

      O my God, You who by one single act of Your will created light — and light was made — speak again Your all-powerful creative word: fiat lux, and light will be created in my soul; and in Your light I shall be able to see myself as I really am in Your sight.

      St. Bernard teaches us that

      He who wants to know the whole truth about himself must, when he has removed the beam of pride (Mt 7:5) which is cutting off his eye from the light, cut steps in his heart (Ps 83:6) by which he can find himself in himself, or better, when he has seen himself in truth, he can say “I have believed, and therefore I have spoken. I have been profoundly humbled.” (Ps 115:10).

      (Treatise On the Steps of Humility and Pride)

      So beautiful and gentle is the work of God in a soul.

  • Beth Williams

    Love this!

  • Jesusa Chamlangen

    I am thankful for this timely post. i

  • Norman W Turner

    Can anyone pray to be filled with the “fire of divine love,” or is this rare gift given by God alone and beyond man’s ability to seek it ?

    • Jeanette

      I hope this answers your questions, which I found by searching on the internet:

      Many Saints experienced these flames of divine love, including St. Padre Pio, St. Catherine of Genoa, St. Therese, St. Mary Magdalene dei Pazzi, and many others. They are a gratuitous gift from God. According to the Saints, we should never ask for such graces. If we do receive them, we should thank God, whilst remembering that the gift is not greater than the Giver! We must also stay humble; Our Lord warned Sr. Josefa of a nun whose soul was in great danger because she took credit for the graces she had received (1 Corinthians 4:7). God warns us about pride because He loves us. My Note: (This is actually a burning in the heart that radiates to the exterior of the skin and can burn the skin as a result of Divine love).

      Remember that the Holy Spirit appeared as “tongues of fire” at Pentecost. The more time we spend with Jesus in prayer, and the more we accept everything as coming from His merciful Providence, the more we will grow in divine love. My Note: This may be what you are referring to…fire of divine love. Maybe attending a Life in the Spirit Seminar would answer your question. God bless!

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