This is a topic I’ve posted about before (Examination of Conscience) and it’s an important exercise that we should all do regularly. Basically, it’s pondering and confessing our sins. Of course, we do this corporately, when we attend worship, but it’s also good to make time to think about how we’ve fallen short in very specific ways. Recently when I reread Of the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis (Of the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis–Book Review) I came across a format that I found really helpful. I’m going to include it here today for others who might like to use it:
(Imagine Christ is speaking to you)
Diligently examine your conscience, and to the utmost of your power purify and make it clear, with true contrition and humble confession; so you may have no burden, nor know anything that may breed remorse of conscience, and hinder your drawing near. Think with displeasure of all your sins in general, and more particularly bewail and lament your daily transgressions. And if time permits, confess to God in the secret of your heart all the wretchedness of evil passions. Groan and lament that you are yet so carnal and worldly, so unmortified from passions; so full of the motions of concupiscence, so unwatchful over your outward sense, so often entangled with many vain imaginations. So much inclined to outward things, so negligent in things inward. So lightly moved to laughter and unbridled mirth, so hardly to tears and contrition. So swift to ease and pleasures of the flesh, so dull to zeal and strictness of life. So curious to hear what is new, and to see what is beautiful, so slack to embrace what is humble and mean. So covetous of abundance, so niggardly in giving, so close in keeping. So inconsiderate in speech, so reluctant to keep silence. So unruly in manners, so fretful in conduct. So eager about food, so deaf to the Word of God. So swift to take rest, so slow to labor. So wakeful after gossiping tales, so drowsy at the sacred services of night; so hasty to arrive at the end, so inclined to wandering and inattention. So careless in observing the hours of prayer, so lukewarm in celebrating, so dry in communicating. So quickly distracted, so seldom thoroughly self-collected. So suddenly moved to anger, so apt to take displeasure against another. So ready to judge, so severe to reprove. So joyful at prosperity, so weak in adversity. So often making good resolutions, and yet bringing them at last to so poor effect.
These and other defects being confessed and bewailed with sorrow and great displeasure at your own infirmity, make a firm resolution to be always amending your life, and making progress in all that is good.
Then, with full resignation and with your entire will, offer up yourself to the honor of My name, on the altar of your heart a perpetual whole burnt offering, even your body and soul, faithfully committing them unto Me.
For more about confession see:
Samuel Johnson’s Prayer of Confession
Confession — It’s Good for the Soul
A Via de Cristo Prayer of Confession and Forgiveness