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Our second daughter is eight. Eight is old. (At least, at our house it is.) And, eight? Eight is great!

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It means someone that you can send to the craft cupboard to “upgrade” the Jesse Tree ornaments, mostly by themselves and unsupervised. Ok, maybe a bit supervised.

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It means being able to reach the Jesse Tree above the piano without help.

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It means being able to start muddling through the missal during Sunday Mass. To muddle through seems to be defined by the Mirriam-Webster dictionary as “to achieve a degree of success without much planning or effort.” Tell me about it. I’m finding that doing a quick run through the missal before Mass greatly increases the chances of Missal Success and decreases the Great Sadness Caused by Missal Failure and Confusion. But maybe this is just my daughter.

It means being able to follow along with the hymns using the hymnals. Even if it takes almost the entire song in order to find the number in the book.

It still means needing to be reminded to be reverent by kneeling up or standing up straight at Mass, to listen and not get distracted, but it seems to mean not needing to be shushed as much. And she doesn’t throw down the hymnal, run down the aisle or need to be taken to the foyer. Praise. The. Lord.

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It means a more advanced version of the Faith and Life book that her little siblings are using. This yellow book is for kids in grade three. Smaller type, more detail, wonderful artwork.

It means a small session with Mama or Daddy after bedtime prayers to work through a simple examination of conscience before going to sleep. I was kind of hoping this would work itself out without any supervision – along the lines of “Ok. Don’t forget to examine your conscience before going to sleep.” But it worked just as well as “Ok. Don’t forget to brush your teeth before going to sleep.” They seemed to need a bit more hand holding and instruction before they could a) do it themselves when prompted, and b) develop the habit and remember to do it without prompting.

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It also means that they’re not likely to rough-house beside the ridiculously breakable Advent Wreath Situation and break the candleholders. No, that would be the six-year old. In cahoots with the five-year old.

Sigh.

Everyone has always told me to cherish these moments when the kids are little because it goes fast. And boy am I ever finding that it does. It goes very fast.

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Just a short note to say that the Lenten Resources page is back up! Please let me know if you have any other resources that might help others in their Lenten journey. Praying that you and your family have a blessed Lent.

For the times I have shunned the presence of Christ, whether it be his sacramental presence or his presence through the people he puts in my life, Response: Come, Lord Jesus!
– from an Examination of Conscience

I usually remember to genuflect before the Tabernacle. Beautiful gold box, bright red candles: these help me remember that I truly am before the King of kings. But I’m tend to forget the presence of Jesus in the seemingly random people he puts in my life. The grumpy cashier, the tired waitress, the lonely retiree, the person sitting next to me on the bus, a toddler determined to empty all the kleenex boxes into the recycling… it’s not easy to remember. In the rush of just trying to get things done, distracted by my own thoughts, I forget that each individual before me is there for a reason: maybe just a smile or a kind word, but something. So this is my brilliant idea:


Random man walking on the sidewalk?


Not random at all!


This could really improve road rage…

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?” And the king will say to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
-Matthew 25:35-40

From our perennial favourite, St. Francis de Sales:

As to the examination of conscience, which we all should make before going to bed, you know the rules:

  1. Thank God for having preserved you through the day past.
  2. Examine how you have conducted yourself through the day, in order to which recall where and with whom you have been, and what you have done.
  3. If you have done anything good, offer thanks to God; if you have done amiss in thought, word, or deed, ask forgiveness of His Divine Majesty, resolving to confess the fault when opportunity offers, and to be diligent in doing better.
  4. Then commend your body and soul, the Church, your relations and friends, to God. Ask that the Saints and Angels may keep watch over you, and with God’s Blessing go to the rest He has appointed for you.

– Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales

One of the questions in an Examination of Conscience was this: Do I make at least a short act of faith every day? to which I wondered, what is a short act of faith? I vaguely remember a prayer called Act of Faith from my childhood, so with the help of our trusty friends at Google, I arrived at these three, starting from the super shortest version to the traditional Act of Faith prayer:

Short Acts of Faith

My God, I believe in you.

or

O my God, I believe in Thee and in all that Thou teachest through thy Holy Church, because thy word is true. (taken from thecatechism.blogspot.com)

or

“O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; I believe that your Divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths the Holy Catholic Church teaches because You have revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.”

And of course, there are the…

Not-so-short Acts of Faith

The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.

The Nicene Creed
I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

When?
Sometimes when I wake my children up, they get out of bed and walk right by me like I’m a potted plant. Then I remind them that it’s nice to say, “Good morning, Mama.” I imagine that the Act of Faith works the same way. We wake up in the morning, and before trudging off to do the next thing, we acknowledge God’s presence. “Good morning, God. I believe in you…”


Look at that lovely, clean bathroom…

Since becoming Co-Master of My Own Domain (read: co-responsible for cleaning the bathrooms, among other things), I gained some transferable wisdom: faithfulness is a good thing. When I ignore the bathrooms until it’s time for Health Canada to shut our operation down, then cleaning them is a Big Deal. Gotta get the mask on, the strong cleaners, the rubber gloves, the elbow grease. I feel guilty and it’s generally a bad scene. But, when I stay on top of it (that is, when I make time for tending to the bathrooms weekly or sometimes daily, depending on the “adventures” that happen in there), then all that is needed is a quick and painless pass-through with a rag and some light cleaner. Not a big deal.

Clean bathrooms, clean soul
Faithfulness is a good thing. It’s much easier to stay on top of the battle to be better by frequently examining my conscience. The more often I do it, the more familiar I become with my weaknesses, with the sins that I struggle with the most, with the occasions during which I fall. Then, all that is needed is a quick and painless encounter with the merciful love of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and ta-dah: good to go, equipped with the Grace of God to start again.

If it’s been a while
It’s tough to clean anything that hasn’t been tended to in a while. I find that some good music and a glass of wine helps. Not that I’ve tried those while examining my conscience, but hey, I might start. It can be humbling. It can be painful. Jesus, I haven’t examined my conscience in a while. I’m not looking forward to it. Help me do a good job. Help me be thorough. Help me do it for love of you and those you’ve put in my care.

Helping children
Children follow our lead. When they see us taking advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently, it can help them make it a normal part of their life, too. It also helps when we are humble and honest about our sins or mistakes. When we are merciful and gentle with them, they are able to imagine the mercy and love of God, who will always take them back, no matter what.

Online resources
The folks at Be An Amazing Catechist have shared a simple Examination of Conscience written for children. For adults, here is an old post that has two versions that are different from the usual format that is based on the Ten Commandments. A quick search with the terms “Examination of Conscience catholic” brings up a great deal of resources from online.

I found a very cool examination of conscience online a couple of days ago and I’m excited to share it with you. It was in an essay written by Fr. John Hardon, S.J. entitled Examination of Conscience (scroll down about half way). The essay itself is old and seems to be all over the internet so I may be (again) the last Catholic to have come across it. I’m not sure if I can put my finger on what exactly is so cool about it. I’ve just never seen one that was organized by the Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope and Love) instead of by the Ten Commandments. I think they’ll go hand in hand quite well.

Faith

  1. Do I make an honest effort to grow in the virtue of faith by daily mental prayer on the mysteries of the faith as revealed in the life of Jesus Christ?
  2. Do I make at least a short act of faith every day?
  3. Do I pray daily for an increase of faith?
  4. Do I ever tempt God by relying on my own strength to cope with the trials in my life?
  5. Do I unnecessarily read or listen to those who oppose or belittle what I know are truths of my Catholic faith?
  6. What have I done today to externally profess my faith?
  7. Have I allowed human respect to keep me from giving expression to my faith?
  8. Do I make a serious effort to resolve difficulties that may arise about my faith?
  9. Do I ever defend my faith, prudently and charitably, when someone says something contrary to what I know is to be believed?
  10. Have I helped someone overcome a difficulty against the faith?

Hope

  1. Do I immediately say a short prayer when I find myself getting discouraged?
  2. Do I daily say a short act of hope?
  3. Do I dwell on my worries instead of dismissing them from my mind?
  4. Do I fail in the virtue of hope by my attachment to the things of this world?
  5. Do I try to see God’s providence in everything that “happens” in my life?
  6. Do I try to see everything from the viewpoint of eternity?
  7. Am I confident that, with God’s grace, I will be saved?
  8. Do I allow myself to worry about my past life and thus weaken my hope in God’s mercy?
  9. Do I try to combine every fully deliberate action with at least a momentary prayer for divine help?
  10. How often today have I complained, even internally?

Charity

  1. Have I told God today that I love Him?
  2. Do I tell Jesus that I love Him with my whole heart?
  3. Do I take the occasion to tell God that I love Him whenever I experience something I naturally dislike?
  4. Have I capitalized on the difficulties today to tell God that I love Him just because He sent me the trial or misunderstanding?
  5. Do I see God’s love for me in allowing me to prove my love for Him in the crosses He sent me today?
  6. Have I seen God’s grace to prove my love for Him in every person whom I met today?
  7. Have I failed in charity by speaking unkindly about others?
  8. Have I dwelt on what I considered someone’s unkindness toward me today?
  9. Is there someone that I consciously avoid because I dislike the person?
  10. Did I try to carry on a conversation today with someone who is difficult to talk to?
  11. Have I been stubborn in asserting my own will?
  12. How thoughtful have I been today in doing some small favor for someone?
  13. Have I allowed my mood to prevent me from being thoughtful of others today?
  14. Am I given to dwelling on other people’s weaknesses or faults?
  15. Have I been cheerful today in my dealings with others?
  16. Do I control my uncharitable thoughts as soon as they arise in my mind?
  17. Did I pray for others today?
  18. Have I written any letters today?
  19. Have I controlled my emotions when someone irritated me?
  20. Have I performed any sacrifice today for someone?

UPDATE:

One of our readers just sent in this Examination of Conscience and I wanted to share it with you. I will update this with its author and origins as soon as I find out.

Examination of Conscience

R: Come, Lord Jesus!

For the times that I forget that I need a Savior, and arrogantly conceive of myself as sufficient to myself, R:

For the times that I do not believe Jesus and instead give in to the lie of perceiving God the Father as being indifferent or hostile to my well-being, R:

For the times that I trust my self-pitying accusations more than the Father’s love, R:

For the times that I desecrate the presence of Christ by making my own opinions, my own criteria, or my own likes and dislikes the measure for measuring circumstances of life and other people, R:

For the times I have shunned the presence of Christ, whether it be his sacramental presence or his presence through the people he puts in my life, R:

For the times I have blasphemed the presence of Christ through using other human beings as things that I can manipulate or use for my own selfish ends, R:

For the times I have disregarded the will of Christ through abuse of those things he has given to me for the building up of his kingdom, R:

For the times that I justify my sinfulness and thus treat God’s mercy with disdain, R:

What is this?

Here a volunteer parishoner at St. Clement shares her personal experiences as her young family tries to keep the Catholic faith alive in their homes, living out the promises of their Baptism. Thank you for stopping in and be sure to share some of your stories as well!

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