Addendum to the Examination of Conscience
I have never added this to my examination of conscience. Maybe it is because I have plenty of sin. I need to get to the heart of my vices – and there is nothing new under the sun.
The routine Examination of Conscience should suffice. Right?
So, we review our day, our week, our month… or the last thirty years if it has been a long time since we darkened the door of the Confessional.
And we come up with the usual suspects. The Commandments broken. The Precepts set aside. The grievances against another. The times we put ourselves and our desires above God.
There is another sin, and it is probably rare. It is a sin that just doesn’t make the usual examination of conscience.
We are so busy looking at the vile things we do to another and to God that we fail to ask ourselves when we have sinned against our own selves.
Oh, I’m not talking about eating disorders or sexual immorality or self-harm.
There is a disposition in which we fail to elevate our souls to joy of life. Joy. Radiating joy.
We stopped feeling like little children so long ago that we don’t remember how to do it anymore.
A sweet treat without the self-loathing of will this make me fat.
A time set aside for planting flower seeds and watching them grow because we don’t plant anything anymore and if we do it is the practical, utilitarian seeds of vegetables. Bring on the kale.
A song that is sung in the shower, a song from childhood, something that used to make us happy.
A romp with our dog in the backyard.
A moment in the sun, on your back, making pictures out of clouds.
A deliberate walk in a warm rain. Or a night walk in the crunch of newly fallen snow.
Standing in the shower longer than usual, just to feel the water on your face.
Listening to the roll of thunder, without wondering if you left your windows open, or any of the many things adults think but children never ponder.
It is a sin to be joyless.
A true saint is not that.
Can there be true holiness without joy? Yet we never include this on an examination of conscience. When did I last do something that honored God by embracing His creation and letting that embrace come like a divine Visitation?
When did I last let myself be joyful?
Today’s Responsorial Psalm says: Look to Him that you may be radiant with joy.
And who doesn’t want that?!
Come to Him today as a little child. True saints are like little children. And little children never forget to have joy.
What a great word.