Tuesday 28 February 2012

Examination of conscience for Priests

Some time ago last year the Congregation for Clergy issued a guide for confessors entitled The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy – An Aid for Confessors and Spiritual Directors.

Some blogs drew attention to it at the time and to an appendix "Examination of conscience for Priests" but it was only recently when visiting the Seminary of the FSSP at Wigratzbad that I was given a little printed copy of this "Examination of Conscience" that I actually read it. Having done so, I felt like asking to stay on at the seminary and go through my training again to see if I could turn out better a second time around! It certainly pulls no punches and this is what the Congregation for Clergy recommends.

I have a few of the leaflets and I presume they can be obtained via the Congregation. It is in the on-line PDF Document referenced above (pg 65ff), from where you could cut and paste it.

I've reproduced it below for anyone interested in reading it - Priests if you dare, for everyone else, it should at least inspire you to get praying for your priests. I thought it appropriate for Lent.


1. “It is for their sakes that I sanctify myself, so that they, too, may be sanctified by the truth” (Jn 17:19).
Do I really take holiness seriously in my priesthood? Am I convinced that the success of my priestly ministry comes from God and that, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, I have to identify myself with Christ and give my life for the salvation of the world?

2. "This is my body” (Mt 26:26).
Is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the centre of my spiritual life? Do I prepare well to celebrate Mass? Do I devoutly celebrate the Mass? Do I make an act of thanksgiving after Mass? Is the Mass the centre of my day in giving thanks and praise to God for his blessings? Do I have recourse to his goodness? Do I make reparation for my sins and for those of all mankind?

3. “Zeal for your house consumes me” (Jn 2:17).
Do I celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the rites and rubrics established by the Church? Do I celebrate Holy Mass with a right intention and according to the approved liturgical books? Am I attentive to the sacred species conserved in the tabernacle and careful to renew it periodically? Do I pay due attention to the sacred vessels and ensure their conservation? Do I wear in a dignified fashion all of the sacred vestments prescribed by the Church? Am I conscious that I act in persona Christi Capitis ?

4. “Remain in my love” (Jn 15:9).
Do I enjoy being in the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, in meditation and in silent adoration? Am I faithful to the daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament? Is the tabernacle my true treasure?

5. “Explain the parable to us” (Mt 13:36).
Do I carefully make a daily meditation and try to overcome all distractions which separate me from God? Do I seek illumination from the Lord whom I serve? Do I assiduously meditate on the Sacred Scriptures? Do I carefully say my habitual prayers?

6. It is necessary “pray always and without tiring” (Lk 18:1)
Do I celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours every day in an integral, dignified, attentive and devout manner? Am I faithful to my commitment to Christ in this important aspect of my ministry, praying in the name of the entire Church?

7. “Come and follow me” (Mt 19:21).
Is the Lord Jesus Christ the true love of my life? Do I joyfully observe my commitment to love before God in celibate continence? Am I given to impure thoughts, desires or actions? Do I indulge in improper conversation? Have I allowed myself to be in the proximate occasion of sin against chastity? Do I observe custody of the eyes? Have I been prudent in my dealings with the various categories of persons? Does my life represent for the faithful a true witness to the fact that holy purity is possible, fruitful and joyful?

8. “ Who are you?” (Jn 1:20).
In my daily life, am I weak, lazy or indolent? Do my conversations conform to a sense of the natural and supernatural that a priest should have? Am I careful to ensure that there are no elements of vanity or superficiality in my life? Are all my actions consistent with my priestly state?

9. The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head (Mt. 8:20).
Do I love Christian poverty? Does my heart belong to God? Am I spiritually detached from everything else? Am I prepared to make sacrifices to better serve God? Am I prepared to give up my comforts, personal plans, and legitimate contacts, for God? Do I possess superfluous things? Do I make unnecessary expenditure or am I taken over by consumerism? Do I use my free time so as to be close to God remembering that I am always a priest – even at these times of rest or vacation?

10. “You have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to mere
children” (Mt 11:25).
Am I guilty of the sins of pride: spiritual difficulties, susceptibility, irritation, unwillingness to forgive, tendencies to despondency, etc.? Do I ask God to give me the virtue of humility?

11. “And there fl owed out blood and water” (Jn 19:34).
Am I convinced that when I act “in the person of Christ” that I am directly involved with the same Body of Christ, the Church? Can I sicerely say that I love the Church? Can I sincerely say that I strive with joy for her growth? Am I concerned for her interests, those of all her
members and for the whole human race?

12. “You are Peter” (Mt 16:18).
Nihil sine Episcopo – nothing without the Bishop – was a saying of St Ignatius of Antioch. Are these words at the root of my ministry? Do I receive orders, counsels or correction from my Ordinary with docility? Do I pray often for the Holy Father? Am I in full communion with his
teaching and intentions?

13. “Love one another” (Jn 13:34).
Have I been charitable in dealing with my brother priests? Does my egoism leave me indifferent to them? Have I criticised my brother priests? Have I supported those who are morally or physically ill? Am I committed to fraternal action so that no one is ever left alone? Do I treat all my brother priests and all of the laity with the charity and patience of Christ?

14. “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6).
Is my knowledge of the teaching of the Church as comprehensive as it should be? Do I assimilate and transmit her teachings? Am I conscious that to teach something contrary to the Magisterium, solemn or ordinary, is gravely abusive and causes damage to the faithful?

15. “Go and sin no more” (Jn 8:11).
Proclamation of the Word leads the faithful to the Sacraments. Do I regularly go to Confession? Do I frequently go to Confession in accordance with my state of life and because of the sacred things with which I am involved? Do I generously celebrate the Sacrament of Penance? Am I reasonably available to the faithful for spiritual direction and do I set particular times aside for this purpose? Do I carefully prepare to instruct in catechesis? Do I preach with zeal and with the love of God?

16. “He called those to himself whom he willed and these went with him” (Mk 3:13).
Am I careful to promote vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life? Do I promote a greater awareness of the universal call to holiness among the faithful? Do I encourage the faithful to pray for vocations and for the sanctification of the clergy?

17. “The Man came not to be served but to serve” (Mt 20:28).
Have I sought to devote myself to others and serve them every day according to the demands of the Gospel? Do I give witness to the Lord’s charity by good works? Do I see the presence of Christ in the Cross and do I see in it the triumph of love? Is my daily activity marked by a spirit of service? Do I consider the exercise of authority as a form of service?

18. “I thirst” (Jn 19:28).
Have I prayed and generously made sacrifices for the good of the souls entrusted to my care by God? Do I discharge my pastoral duties? Am I solicitous for the Holy Souls?

19. Behold your son. Behold your mother (Jn 19: 26-27).
Do I entrust myself, full of hope, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Priests, through love and to love all the more her son Jesus Christ? Do I practice Marian devotion? Do I say the Rosary every day? Do I have recourse to her maternal intercession in my struggles with the devil, concupiscence, and the world?

20. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:44).
Am I solicitous in assisting and in administering the sacraments to the dying? In my personal meditation, in catechesis and in my ordinary preaching, do I give consideration to the Church’s teaching on the Last Things? Do I ask for the grace of perseverance? Do I ask the faithful to do likewise? Do I make frequent and devout suffrage for the souls of the faithful departed?


Grant to me, O Lord, that wisdom which stands beside Your throne, that I may know how to judge Your people with justice, and Your poor ones with equity. Let me so use the keys of the Kingdom of heaven that I may open to no one upon whom they should shut, nor close them to any for whom they should open. May my intention be pure, my zeal sincere, my charity patient, my labour fruitful. Let me be gentle without weakness, severe without harshness. Let me not
disdain the poor; nor fawn the rich. Make me kind that I may attract sinners, prudent in questioning them, adroit in directing them. Grant, I beseech You, skill to lead them back from sin, zeal in confirming them in good, diligence in elevating them to better things. Grant me good
judgement in answering questions, correctness in counselling. Give me light when things are obscure, wisdom when they are entangled, victory when they are diffi cult. May I myself be not lost.


Lord Jesus Christ, sweet lover and sanctifier of souls, I pray You, through the infusion of the Holy Spirit, to purify my heart from every dissolute feeling or thought and to replace, through Your infinite compassion and mercy, everything in my ministry which may be a cause of sin, due to my ignorance or neglect. I commend to Your amiable wounds all the souls whom You have brought to repentance and sanctified through Your precious blood so that You may guard them from every sin and keep in Your love all who fear You, promote in them each day more virtues, and bring them to everlasting life. You who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, receive this performance of my ministry with that surpassing love with which You absolved blessed Mary Magdalene and all sinners flying to You. Whatever in the administration of this Sacrament I may have performed negligently and unworthily, deign to supply and satisfy. I recommend to Your most Sacred Heart all and each who have now confessed to me, asking You to guard them from relapse. After the misery of this life lead them with me into the joys of eternal life. Amen.