Monday, April 16, 2018

Why do we need to examine ourselves?

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and then lead me in the way everlasting! – Psalm 139:23-24

Mr. Pacetti, though he sat in the third pew from the front, always was near the last to come forward and kneel to share in Holy Communion. One day after Church I asked his reason for this habitual delay. After a few moments of reluctance to answer, he said, “It takes me awhile to examine my soul…”

And yes, there it was … in the liturgy for Holy Communion … was the instruction to first examine yourself in readying to take the Communion. And then I wondered … first, why didn’t I take more than a symbolic moment … and then second, why were there not more to linger in self-examining prayerfulness?

I suppose it was the pressure of well-organized ritual, you know … the clockwork precision of the ushers in managing the procession of the pews. I suppose peer pressure contributes to get in line. But even when Holy Communion is in free form … they come quickly for I suspect that most are not sensing a need to look deeply within and to bring what they find into the mercy of the Lord.


Self-examination brings us back from the brink of disastrous pride into the grace of humility. Not to think poor of ourselves, but to be honest with ourselves.

Self-examination makes our spirituality an ongoing process of growth, learning from our past so that we might progress in our maturation.

Self-examination refines our understanding of our sinful nature, not only our transgressions, but also our vulnerabilities, our unknown sins that came by way of enculturation, our self-imposed limitations, our lingering guilt, our persistent anxieties, our thorny regrets.

Self-examination draws deep into our inner places the Presence of the Lord. And there in those inner places, the transforming grace of God can its work.

As a Jesuit, I practice daily communion and also daily self-examination. The first, I do thankfully; the second, I do rigorously. Again, not to wallow in self-denigration or self-flagellation or even self-absorption, but for purpose of personal growth and spiritual maturation.

Always in His Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz


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