Before applying the particular examen to my own spiritual life, it is well to first ask myself, "What are the virtues that I know from experience I most need to develop?" The reason why this question should first be answered is that no two of us are equally prone to commit the same kind of sins. Nor are we personally always tempted in the same direction. There is wisdom in first knowing enough about myself, to be able to get to the root of my own moral weakness. Otherwise, I may be ignoring what really needs attention in my spiritual life and concentrating on what is not so necessary for me at this time in my service of God. Moreover, it would be a mistake to suppose that by attending to my moral failings, I am being "negative" in my pursuit of holiness. On the contrary. In God's providence, He allows us to fail in those areas in which He especially wants us to grow in virtue. We can fail in the practice of these virtues either by commission, omission, or by tepidity, in not acting as generously as we might in responding to the grace we have received from God.
- 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?
- Do I make at least a short act of faith every day?
- Do I pray daily for an increase of faith?
- Do I ever tempt God by relying on my own strength to cope with the trials in my life?
- Do I unnecessarily read or listen to those who oppose or belittle what I know are truths of my Christian faith?
- What have I done today to externally profess my faith?
- Have I allowed human respect to keep me from giving expression to my faith?
- Do I make a serious effort to resolve difficulties that may arise about my faith?
- Do I ever defend my faith, prudently and charitably, when someone says something contrary to what I know is to be believed?
- Have I helped someone overcome a difficulty against the faith?
--John Hardon, S.J.
(Second and third parts in the days following. Full text here. The above has been very lightly adapted.)