Consecration: Week One, Day SevenExamination of Conscience
(I like this examination of conscience from Totus Tuus ministries, but feel free to use another if you find it more fruitful!)
Set aside a time to reflect on your most common sins and faults. What are the behaviors that you frequently confess? Seek to discover the root of these sins and shortcomings. Reflect on the major sins of your past life and then examine them to discover their root. A pattern will occur. It is important to understand that the inclination to sin is not a sin until one consents to the sinful tendency.
You will find in this analysis that the obstacles or negative manifestations are chiefly the result of one of three dominant inclinations: PRIDE, VANITY, and SENSUALITY.
To aid you to better recognize these three root sins, some of their most common manifestations are listed below.
PRIDE: The decision to base my security and self-esteem on MYSELF.
HAUGHTINESS includes: having an elevated concept of myself; annoyance with those who contradict me; easily judging others negatively, and hence easily gossiping about them; difficulty in recognizing my own failing or acknowledging when I've hurt someone; obstinacy to ask, seek or render forgiveness; insincerity in order to hide my faults; hypocrisy; fury when others fail to thank me for favors; unwillingness to serve; impatience, keeping others at a distance, brusqueness in my daily contact with others; thinking that I'm the only one who knows how to do things right; unwillingness to let others help me; over-rationalism so that I judge anything I don't agree with to be in error; being too opinionated; and in practice not believing that I need God, even though I may pray.
SELF-LOVE manifests itself in the following: permitting nobody to contradict me; growing annoyed if I don't get my way or if I'm not considered or consulted; refusing to assent unless everything is explained to me; nursing grudges a long time, not letting go of minor annoyances; rebelling against what I don't like or what seems mistaken to me; unwilling to take directions from anyone; acting authoritarian; inflexibility; thinking of myself first; my agenda, ideas or interest takes priority over everyone else's; being indifferent to others and their needs, tastes and viewpoint; stubbornness in disrupting my plans when someone asks me for something; great calculation in my relations with others and with God; liking to be heard, always thinking my conversation is the most important; centering games, entertainment and activity around myself; easily take offense.
VANITY: The choice to place my security in OTHERS, in what they think of me.
Wanting others to admire me; thinking that I'm good, successful or valued only when others recognize my talents; being dominated by concern for what others think; shyness because I'm afraid others won't like me; becoming easily discouraged at my failures; two-facedness or hypocrisy in the attempt to make myself accepted; abandoning or silencing my principles in order to "fit in"; easily judging others when they don't like me; and speaking openly of their "errors" when I have an appreciative audience; desiring to have exclusive friendships or being possessive toward my friends; joining the "in group" in order to appear popular and valued; breaking confidences; stretching the truth, or lying outright, in order to make myself noticed or appreciated; always talking about myself and my accomplishments.
Seeking to be the center of attention; severe disappointment when others don't appreciate my views, personality, home, etc.; seeking to be accepted even if I have to compromise my principles; being haunted by fear of rejection; rejoicing in failures of others and an inability to genuinely rejoice in their successes - I'm too jealous or envious.
SENSUALITY: Placing my security and self-esteem in THINGS and FEELINGS.
I DON'T FEEL LIKE IT: Giving primacy to my feelings; my daily activity depends upon my emotional state – whether I feel like it, whether I like the person I'm dealing with, or if I like my task. Avoiding responsibilities when I don't feel good; accomplishing my responsibilities at the last minute just to finish them, without concern for perfection in what I do; wasting time easily; when I'm not under a deadline I only do what I like most; fleeing anything which exacts bodily mortification; complaining about everything; if I'm a little under the weather, everyone knows about it.
MATERIALISM: Always wanting what is the newest or the most up to date; never wanting to throw anything out; being attached to personal possessions; excessive worry about things and about money. I need things to feel good about myself. I spend excessive time shopping or waste money on things I don't really need.
LIFE OF PLEASURE: Passing easily from friendship to animosity in relating to others, as if people were disposable objects like a paper cup; the need to be liked and to feel the affection of others is a high priority. Always looking for the most comfortable, that which requires least effort, the easiest for me, and the most comfortable situations. Daydreaming, not controlling my thoughts; constructing castles in the air in which generally I play hero(ine) or the center of attention. At meals, eating only what I like, rejecting everything else even if it hurts another or wastes food. Having to see everything, experience everything; excessive curiosity; seeking pleasures, even to the point of endangering my purity with thought or actions.