Catholic Sistas » perspective from the neck

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Ponder in your heart

It’s well known that it’s easier to see problems in others than yourself. After all, we can justify anything to ourselves, but simply can’t understand how others can do the same thing, right?

Part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is self-examination. The first step in seeking God’s forgiveness is to recognize the sins in our own lives and have the desire and intent not to commit them again.

There are pages and pages written about self-examination in seeking God’s grace. Christians are encouraged to look at the Ten Commandments, to look at the Catechism, to look at the Scriptures, and compare their own behavior and choices with what is Truth according to the Church’s teachings. Christians are encouraged to pray and reflect on their lives, listening to God’s still, small voice in their hearts, drawing attention to areas for change.

This is an important part of a Christian’s faith journey. You have to know where you are, spiritually, in order to move forward and grow in Christ. However, there is another aspect to self-examination that is discussed far less, but is just as important.

Self-examination can also be used to recognize your growth on your faith walk. Just as you look into your heart to identify areas that need improvement, you can look into your heart to identify areas in which you have improved.

Have you been studying Scripture to learn more about prayer? How has your prayer life changed? This is self-examination.

Have you been working to eliminate gossip from your life? When was the last time you gossiped? What has taken gossip’s place in your life? This is self-examination.

As Christians, it can be easy to fall into the trap of seeing only what we’re doing wrong. Many church pastors preach “fire and brimstone” sermons every Sunday, scaring the Hell out of the congregation (pun intended) by reminding them of their sins. And that’s one way to do it, sure.

But don’t forget the other side of the coin.

Be aware of where you need improvement. This is how you’ll grow closer to the Lord. But don’t lose sight of how you actually are growing closer to the Lord.

And may the peace of our Lord be with you always.

  • Shiela - When I look back on the path that my life has taken, I see where my faith has paved the way. It helps me to stay on that path. Thanks, Nicole.September 29, 2011 – 9:17 amReplyCancel

  • BirgitJ - Nice! I do think that it helps us find encouragement if we spotlight our triumphs as well as our failings…this is a good thing to do in relation to others as well. Let us pray for one another!September 29, 2011 – 3:39 pmReplyCancel

  • megan - Loved this and needed to hear this today. I have never thought about how far I have come…and let me tell you it is FAR….thanks for sharing your beautiful writing.September 29, 2011 – 9:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Michelle - Beautifully written and such a great reminder to look at how far we’ve come when we are examining ourselves. It’s easy to find those faults but sometimes harder to see how far we’ve come!September 30, 2011 – 5:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Pete - Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; OF WHOM I AM CHIEF – I Tim. 1:15

    Dear Sistas,

    As a convert to the Sacramental Life, it always irks me when Protestants take 1 verse out of context to make a point. But really, the early Church fathers & mothers line up 100% with what I’m about to point out:

    When it comes to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we should NEVER pat ourselves on the back. That is not how Christ instructed the Apostles to set up Confession.

    I am not a priest; so please do not take my word for it. Check with your local priest or confessor. My concern is for the sincere orthodox Roman Catholic Christians on this site.

    Confession leads to true humility. In humility we find Christ’s love. With acceptance of his love, there is absolutely no awareness of self esteem. When you really realize that Christ became incarnate FOR YOU PERSONALLY…which He did…well, that’s all the self esteem that anyone needs!

    Yes, I’m a stinky boy, and I know this is a girl’s site. 🙂 And I would feel horrible if Nicole, a handmaiden of the Lord, was offended. But these word are written as the holy icon of the Apostle Paul is facing me, so they are typed with friendship. I enjoy this excellent site and only want to reach out in the TRUTH of our Faith.

    If I have offended, please forgive me.

    Glory to God for all thingsSeptember 30, 2011 – 9:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Hannah - When I read it initially I kind of had the same response (though not as strong) as Pete. I re-read it a few times though and I came to the conclusion that Nicole’s point was not for us to give ourselves a “pat on the back,” for being such good little Catholics, rather it was to help us recognize that God can effect change in us. By recognizing that we do have little successes in our faith journey it helps to avoid despairing. Recognizing where and how we have become closer to God IS a reason to rejoice and incentive to strive to be yet closer to Him.October 1, 2011 – 2:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Mary - If we are giving all the glory to God and His grace then there is nothing wrong with reminding ourselves of our triumphs and our progress (which are really God’s triumphs). It’s not “patting ourselves on the back” if we recognize that it’s not because of us, but because of Him, that we were able to achieve those successes. We just have to guard against spiritual pride. But the flip side of too much pride in our achievements is becoming discouraged or despairing, which are also bad for us spiritually speaking. I think that might be what Nicole is talking about.October 1, 2011 – 3:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Misty - For those of us prone to scrupulosity, who can very easily despair when we find ourselves marching into the confessional with what could easily be the same photocopied list, month after month, year after year…being able to see that God IS sanctifying us can be a true gift from Him. I am a glass-half-empty person, who can easily despair when I must confess I can’t seem to cooperate with God’s grace enough to overcome even venial sins such as gossip and detraction. For someone like me, it actually helps me to remember God’s little victories in my soul, so that I will continue to persevere. Thanks, Nicole!October 1, 2011 – 5:00 pmReplyCancel

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