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IT IS NOT THE VIRTUE, BUT THE MOTIVE FOR VIRTUE, WHICH GOD REWARDS

IT IS NOT THE VIRTUE, BUT THE MOTIVE FOR VIRTUE, WHICH GOD REWARDS

Commentary on Matthew 5:43-48

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour, and shall hate your enemy.'” And so forth.

But I say to you: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” Many people, measuring the precepts of God by their own weakness rather than by the strength of his Saints, think it is impossible to perform what they command. They say it is enough if the virtuous do not hate their enemies. To love them is to command more than human nature can bear. We ought to realise that Christ did not command impossible things, although he did command perfect things: David did it to Saul and Absalom; Stephen the Martyr prayed for his enemies who stoned him; Paul wished to be anathema for the sake of his persecutors. This, too, Jesus taught and did when he said: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven. If observing the commandments of God makes man a son of God, then is man a son of God not from his nature but from his will. “Therefore when you do an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets that they may be honoured by men.” The man giving an alms and sounding a trumpet is a hypocrite. He who fasts that he may disfigure his face, and that its emaciation may show the emptiness of his stomach – he, too, is a hypocrite. So, too, is he a hypocrite who prays in the synagogues and on the corners of streets, for the sole purpose of being seen by men.

The danger of vain-glory

From all this we may conclude that hypocrites do what they do that they may be glorified by men. It seems to me that, he, too, is a hypocrite who says to his brother, “Let me cast the speck out of your eye,” for he does this through vain-glory, that he may seem just. Wherefore, the Lord says to him: “Hypocrite, first cast out the beam from your own eye.” It is not the act of virtue, but the motive for virtue, which has the reward from God. And if you swerve even but a little from the straight way, it matters not whether you stray to the right or to the left, since you have lost the true way.

– From: St Jerome, Book 1, Commentary on Matthew, Ch. 5-6

(see also: Examination of Conscience, Spiritual Direction, Confession)

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Posted by on April 6, 2017 in Words of Wisdom

 

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TEN COMMANDMENTS – EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE IN PREPARATION FOR SACRAMENTAL CONFESSION

TEN COMMANDMENTS – EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE IN PREPARATION FOR SACRAMENTAL CONFESSION
  • When did you make your last confession? Was it a good one? Did you conceal a mortal sin? Did you perform your penance?
  • 1st Commandment: Have you since neglected your morning, evening, or meal prayers? Often? Have you said them with wilful distraction? Have you doubted in matters of faith? Were you ashamed to fulfil your religious duties? Have you exposed your faith to danger, for instance, by going to heretical churches, reading heretical books, etc.? Did you deny your religion?
  • 2nd Commandment: Have you taken the name of God in vain? Have you spoken irreverently or mockingly of holy things? Have you cursed yourself or others? Have you sworn falsely, rashly, or in trivial matters? Have you broken your vows?
  • 3rd Commandment: Did you on Sundays or Holy days stay away from Mass wilfully? Did you come too late? How often? Have you done or commanded servile work on such days without necessity? Have you been irreverent in Church?
  • 4th Commandment: (Children): Have you been disobedient towards your parents or disrespectful otherwise? Have you grieved them, neglected to assist them when in need? (Parents): Have you neglected to teach your children their prayers, to send them to church and to a Catholic school? Have you given them scandal by cursing, quarreling, etc., in their presence? Neglected to watch over them: the company they keep, the books they read, etc.?
  • 5th Commandment: Have you struck or wounded others? Did you injure your health by excessive drink, etc.? Did you bear hatred? How long? Did you desire revenge, refuse to forgive? Did you wish others harm? Have you led others into sin? What sins? How many persons? Have you given others bad books to read; shown them bad pictures; taken them to bad places; helped them to steal, etc.?
  • 6th and 9th Commandments: Have you wilfully entertained impure thoughts? desires? How often? Have you recalled with pleasure to mind former sins of impurity? What sins? Did you expose yourself to danger of committing sins of impurity by keeping bad company, reading lewd books, frequenting bad places, dangerous dances, theatres, etc.? Did you wilfully give ear to, or take part in impure conversations, sing immodest songs, boast of immodest actions, etc.? Did you wilfully look at immodest pictures, or cast immodest looks upon yourself or others? Did you sin by immodest touch or action? Was it with yourself or with others? How often? Was it with relatives, perhaps, or with a married person? Did you wilfully desire to commit such sins? Did you lead others to any sins of immodesty?
  • 7th and 10th Commandments: Did you steal? What was it worth? Have you cheated anyone? Have you done or caused damage? To what amount? Did you neglect to make restitution in former cases? Neglect to pay your debts? Retain things found or stolen? Did you have a desire to steal?
  • 8th Commandment: Did you tell lies? Did you make known the hidden faults of your neighbour? Did you, through envy or hatred, tell lies about others? Have you injured them thereby? Have you judged others rashly?
  • Precepts of the Church: Have you gone to confession within the last year? Have you fulfilled your Easter duty by receiving Holy Communion during Easter-time? Did you eat flesh-meat on forbidden days, wilfully? Did you neglect to fast on the days prescribed, without cause? Do you belong to any society forbidden by the Church?
  • The Seven Capital Sins: Have you been proud and thought yourself better than others? Have you been jealous or envious? Have you the habit of drinking to excess? Have you given way to anger?

– From St John’s Sunday Missal, 1952

Please see also: “I would like to have my sins forgiven properly, but I shy away from Jesus in the Sacrament of Confession”, please click here.

 

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CONSCIENCE CARRIES WITH IT ITS PROOF OF ITS DIVINE ORIGIN

A mere law of nature?

“I feel myself in his presence. He says to me, ‘Do this: don’t do that’. You may tell me that this dictate is a mere law of my nature, as is to joy or to grieve. No, it is the echo of a person speaking to me. Nothing shall persuade me that it does not ultimately proceed from a person external to me. It carries with it its proof of its divine origin. My nature feels towards it as towards a person. When I obey it, I feel a satisfaction; when I disobey, a soreness – just like that which I feel in pleasing or offending some revered friend.”

– Bl. John Henry Newman, A description of Conscience. Call., 314

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2015 in Words of Wisdom

 

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BEING TOTALLY HONEST WITH GOD AND SELF: HAVE WE DISREGARDED ONE OR THE OTHER OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?

It is advisable to make an examination of conscience every evening; here an examination of conscience as guide, also before sacramental confession.

The Ten Commandments

“When did you make your last confession? Was it a good one? – Did you conceal a mortal sin? – Did you perform your penance?

1) Have you since neglected your morning, evening, or meal prayers? Often? – Have you said them with wilful distraction? – Have you doubted in matters of faith? – Were you ashamed to fulfil your religious duties? – Have you exposed your faith to danger, for instance, by going to heretical churches, reading heretical books, etc.? – Did you deny your religion?

2) Have you taken the Name of God in vain? – Have you spoken irreverently or mockingly of holy things? – Have you cursed yourself or others? – Have you sworn falsely, rashly, or in trivial matters? – Have you broken your vows?

3) Did you on Sundays or Holydays stay away from Mass wilfully? Did you come too late? How often? – Have you done or commanded servile work on such days without necessity? – Have you been irreverent in Church?

4) (Children): Have you been disobedient towards your parents or disrespectful otherwise? – Have you grieved them, neglected to assist them when in need?

(Parents): Have you neglected to teach your children their prayers, to send them to church and to a Catholic school? – Have you given them scandal by cursing, quarreling, etc., in their presence? – Neglected to watch over them: the company they keep, the books they read, [the way they use electronic media and entertainment] etc.?

5) Have you struck or wounded others? – Did you injure your health by excessive drink, etc.? – Did you bear hatred? – How long? – Did you desire revenge, refuse to forgive? – Did you wish others harm? – Have you lead others into sin? What sins? – How many persons? – Have you given others bad books to read; shown them bad pictures; taken them to bad places; helped them to steal, etc.?

6) and 9) Have you wilfully entertained impure thoughts? desires? How often? – Have you recalled with pleasure to mind former sins of impurity? What sins? – Did you expose yourself to danger of committing sins of impurity by keeping bad company, reading lewd books, frequenting bad places, dangerous dances, theatres, etc.? – Did you wilfully give ear to, or take part in impure conversations, sing immodest songs, [told or listened to immodest jokes, comedies, films, etc.], boast of immodest actions, etc.? – Did you wilfully look at immodest pictures, or cast immodest looks upon yourself or others? – Did you sin by immodest touch or action? Was it with yourself or with others? How often? Was it with relatives, perhaps with a married person? Did you wilfully desire to commit such sins? – Did you lead others to any sins of immodesty?

7) and 10) Did you steal? What was it worth? – Have you cheated on any one? – Have you done or caused damage? To what amount? – Did you neglect to make restitution in former cases? – Neglect to pay your debts? – Retain things found or stolen? – Did you have a desire to steal?

8) Did you tell lies? – Did you make known the hidden faults of your neighbour? – Did you, through envy or hatred, tell lies about others? Have you injured them thereby? – Have you judged others rashly? suspected others falsely?

Precepts of the Church

Have you gone to confession within the past year? Have you fulfilled your Easter duty by receiving Holy Communion during the Easter-time? Did you eat flesh-meat on forbidden days, wilfully? Did you neglect to fast on the days prescribed, without cause? Did you belong to any society forbidden by the Church?

The Seven Capital Sins

Have you been proud and thought yourself better than others? – Have you been jealous or envious? – Have you the habit of drinking to excess? – Have you given way to anger?”

– Fr Gebhard, 1952

 

 
 

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CONFESSION TIME: EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

Every evening before retiring to bed, we are encouraged to examine our conscience and pray for the forgiveness of our sins (“and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” – cf. Mt 6:12). You find an act of contrition at the bottom of this post.

It is good practice to go to sacramental confession regularly. It clears and frees the mind, prevents things “clogging the system” and thereby even strengthens the immune system and stops psychosomatic illnesses building up, and it helps us to be humble, honest with ourselves, sin less and grow in holiness and virtue.

We give our homes a thorough clean at least once a week.

The soul is like a delicate, very exquisite glass. Every little stain, dust particle and fingerprint of sin, however small, shows and builds up. Surely, with cleaning our homes and bodies regularly, we don’t leave it too long with sacramental confession for grime to build up on our souls?

HOW DO YOU EXAMINE YOUR CONSCIENCE?

Don’t be hasty, don’t be superficial, avoid anxiety

What sins have I committed?
A sin is a thought, word, deed or omission against God’s Will (the 10 Commandments etc.)

EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

– Did I deny or doubt God’s existence? Did I refuse to believe God’s revelation?
– Did I believe in horoscopes, fortune telling, dreams, good luck charms or reincarnation?
– Did I deny that I was a Christian? Did I leave the Christian faith?
– Did I despair of or presume on God’s mercy?
– Did I neglect prayer for a long time?
– Did I blaspheme God or take God’s Name in vain, curse or break an oath or vow?
– Did I go to Mass on Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation through my own fault?
– Was I inattentive at Mass? Did I come late? How late? Did I leave Mass early?
– Did I do unnecessary physical work on Sunday?
– Did I disobey or disrespect my parents or legitimate superiors?
– Did I neglect my duties to my husband, wife, children, or parents?
– Did I fail to actively take an interest in the religious education and formation of my children?
– Have I failed to educate myself on the true teachings of the Church?
– Have I been racist in thought, word or deed? Have I told or listened to racist and/or other discriminatory jokes?
– Did I give a full day’s work in return for my full day’s pay?
– Did I give a fair wage to my employee?
– Did I give scandal by what I said or did, especially to the young? Was I the cause of anyone leaving the faith?
– Was I impatient, angry, envious, unkind, proud, jealous, revengeful? Hateful toward others, lazy?
– Did I give bad example, abuse drugs, drink alcohol to excess, fight or quarrel?
– Did I physically injure or kill anyone? Have had or advised for an abortion?
– Did I participate in or approve of the grave evil known as “mercy killing”? Did I attempt suicide?
(Note: In the area of deliberate sexual sins listed below, all are mortal if there is sufficient reflection and full consent of the will.)
– Did I wilfully entertain impure thoughts and desires? Did I dress immodestly?
– Did I use impure or suggestive words? Tell impure stories? Or listened to them?
– Did I deliberately look at impure things, TV, DVDs, videos, plays, pictures, or movies? Or did I deliberately read impure material?
– Did I commit an impure act by myself (masturbation) or with another?
– Did I abuse my marriage rights? Was I unfaithful to my marriage vows?
– Have I kept company with someone else’s spouse?
– Did I practice ARTIFICIAL birth control?
– Did I steal, cheat, help or encourage others to steal, or keep stolen goods? Have I made restitution for stolen goods?
– Did I fulfil my contracts; give or accept bribes; pay my bills; rashly gamble or speculate; deprive my family of necessities of life?
– Did I tell lies? Did I deliberately deceive? Or injure others by lies? Did I commit perjury? Was I uncharitable in word or deed, gossip or reveal other’s faults or sins? Fail to keep secrets I should have?
– Did I eat meat on Fridays or Ash Wednesday?
– Did I fast as required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday; during Lent?
– Did I fail to receive Holy Communion during Easter time? Fail to confess at least once a year?
– Did I go to Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin? Without fasting (water and genuine medicine are permitted) for one hour from food and drink?
– Did I make a bad confession?
– Did I fail to contribute to the support of the Church?

AN ACT OF CONTRITION:
“O my God, I am sorry and beg Your pardon for all my sins, and detest them above all things, because they deserve Your dreadful punishments, because they have crucified my loving Saviour Jesus Christ, and, most of all because they offend Your infinite goodness; and I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.”

 

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“ONE HUMAN TENDENCY IS TO BLAME OTHERS, TO POINT THE FINGER”

AT PEACE WITH ONESELF

“There is a dictum in international relations regarding the prospect of war between two nations that it is better to ‘jaw jaw than war war.’

Just as this is true for nations it is also true for us as individuals.

Our human tendency is to blame others, point the finger, accuse and defend ourselves.

We don’t readily listen to the other’s point of view, we tend to justify ourselves and see ourselves as being in the right and the other in the wrong.

Examining our conscience, being aware of our sins and faults is a grace and a blessing.

Self-awareness and self-knowledge are gifts of the Spirit. They keep us humble and repentant.”
– This article was published in “A Lenten Journey of Prayer for 2013” by AlivePublishing. For information about their booklets please visit http://www.alivepublishing.co.uk (external link).

 

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EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE / PENITENTIAL ACT

O God, come to my assistance.
O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.

EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE:

In what ways have I allowed my thoughts and deeds to be influenced, however subtly, by the enemies of Christ, who are my enemies also?

PENITENTIAL ACT:

V. Lord Jesus, you fasted and prayed for our deliverance.
Lord, have mercy.

R. Lord, have mercy.

V. Lord Jesus, you endured temptation and persecution for our sake.
Christ, have mercy.

R. Christ, have mercy.

V. Lord Jesus, you overcame sin and death for our salvation.
Lord, have mercy.

R. Lord, have mercy.

May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

 

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