Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Unique Examination of Conscience

Last fall I was given a different kind of Examination of Conscience: it is an Examination of Attitudes. It was written by one of our Sisters. I love it, and I have been given permission to reprint it on this blog! I hope that this becomes a useful tool for you as you prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Examples of Brief Confessions of Sinfulness

Note: the following examples are made up to show one aspect of confession- that is, the confessing of sinfulness as an attitude. The examples also show characteristic attitudes, different in each person. Any one of the following could be a complete confession supposing there is no (other) mortal sinfulness.

  1. I have been angry at all my troubles and I let myself be very sarcastic to people I work with and live with...
  2. I am so concerned with getting material things and keeping up my status in the eyes of those I associate with that I have too little time for noticing the needs of others.
  3. I take delight in and I take pleasure in learning of and broadcasting the faults of those whose ideas...I do not like.
  4. I cause great inconvenience to others by a sloppy and unplanned way of doing things, making them wait, spoiling their plans, ignoring their needs.
  5. I realize I am taking a roundabout revenge on others by my remarks about them, even in joking...
  6. I let my depression and my temper, and my moods affect others by giving into my feelings and...
  7. I am causing trouble in my group by trying to dominate, by making all the decisions, by not listening to anyone, thinking I am always right...
  8. I refuse to take responsibility for my mistakes; I always find someone to blame other than myself.
  9. I allow a spirit of bitterness, complaining, self-pity to possess me and thus I don't do others any good...
  10. I am very stubborn and domineering. If I am blocked by anyone for any reason, I immediately lose my temper and retaliate.
  11. I continually make myself the hero and center of every conversation.
  12. I am present at Mass physically, but my participation is half-hearted and spiritless...
  13. I almost never pray...
  14. I cause unnecessary pain to those in authority by being closed, secretive, and underhanded...
  15. I show little forgiveness or compassion toward others when they have need for sympathy.
  16. I show little consideration for others by being late for meals, prayers, meetings, etc.
  17. I demand perfection from everyone and tolerate weakness from nobody.

This is the statue of St. Francis
that I look at as I am waiting
in line to receive the Sacrament
of Reconciliation at the

"Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves by healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving more frequently through this sacrament the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as he is merciful" (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1458).


As Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least every two weeks. I noticed a change in myself for the better when I began this practice as a postulant.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On Marian Apparitions

While I was growing up, I would watch The Day the Sun Danced with my cousins at my maternal grandma's house. I loved it! In fact, I still love this movie. I even showed it to the sixth grade religious education class that I taught at my home parish when I was teaching about sacramentals. I told them, this might look like a children's movie because it is animated, but it's actually one of my favorites. My students loved it too and even were inspired by it enough to ask if we could pray the Rosary together as a class. 
As a fan of the miracle at Fatima, I was pleased to find out that there was a a new movie about the story. Last year, we watched it as a novitiate community and tonight I got to see it again in the cafeteria with more of our Sisters. It is called The 13th Day and I thought it was excellent both times I saw it! According to, it is not appropriate for young children because of the images of hell and the way the children are treated in the movie (

The visions at Fatima occurred in 1917 and were approved by the Church in 1930. 

Here in the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, Marian Apparitions were approved by Bishop David Ricken on December 8, 2010. He said, "I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worth of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful" ( This made the apparition the first one approved in the United States. 

Yesterday, Sr. Anne Marie (a Sister who is staying with our Community for her sabbatical), Sr. Natalie, Sr. Regina Rose, and I went on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help (where the apparitions were). We were greeted with something new at the site: a Vatican flag! The statues of the angels blowing their horns in front of the flag completed the scene. They seemed to be proclaiming the good news! 

We had a wonderful time there. It has such a peaceful atmosphere! If you are traveling to Wisconsin, I recommend stopping by.

Some words on apparitions and other private revelations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Throughout the ages, there have been so-called 'private' revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept "revelations" that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfilment, as is the case in certain nonChristian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such 'revelations' (CCC #67).
I took the liberty of looking up a couple of the phrases for you:
 deposit of faith = The teachings of the Church through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition (
sensus fidelium =sense of the faith 
-sensus fidei: the Christian's possession of the fundamental truth of his faith". 
-sensus fidelium: [the Christian's] role in actively defending and elaborating that faith" 
"Writers since [Vatican Council II] have generally preferred the more active-subjective term, that is, sensus fidelium (

Collin B. Donovan, STL, quotes St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica: God continues to reveal Himself to individuals "not indeed for the declaration of any new doctrine of faith, but for the direction of human acts" (

The "direction of human acts" given to Adele was to catechize. In many ways, it is a message we still need today.