Particular Examen on the Theological VirtuesFATHER JOHN A. HARDON, S.J.
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. Other wise, 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 or 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 in 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 Catholic 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 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?
Do I immediately say a short prayer when I find myself getting discouraged?
Do I daily say a short act of hope?
Do I dwell on my worries instead of dismissing them from my mind?
Do I fail in the virtue of hope by my attachment to the things of this world?
Do I try to see God's providence in everything that "happens" in my life?
Do I try to see everything from the viewpoint of eternity?
Am I confident that, with God's grace, I will be saved?
Do I allow myself to worry about my past life, and thus weaken my hope in God's mercy?
Do I try to combine every fully deliberate action with at least a momentary prayer for divine help?
How often today have I complained, even internally?
Have I told God today that I love Him?
Do I tell Jesus that I love Him with my whole heart?
Do I take the occasion to tell God that I love Him whenever I experience something I naturally dislike?
Have I capitalized on the difficulties today to tell God that I love Him just because He sent me the trial or misunderstanding?
Do I see God's love for me in allowing me to prove my love for Him in the crosses He sent me today?
Have I seen God's grace to prove my love for Him in every person whom I met today?
Have I failed in charity by speaking unkindly about others?
Have I dwelt on what I considered someone's unkindness toward me today?
Is there someone that I consciously avoid because I dislike the person?
Did I try to carry on a conversation today with someone who is difficult to talk to?
Have I been stubborn in asserting my own will?
How thoughtful have I been today in doing some small favor for someone?
Have I allowed my mood to prevent me from being thoughtful of others today?
Am I given to dwelling on other people's weaknesses or faults?
Have I been cheerful today in my dealings with others?
Do I control my uncharitable thoughts as soon as they arise in my mind?
Did I pray for others today?
Have I written any letters today?
Have I controlled my emotions when someone irritated me?
Have I performed any sacrifice today for someone?
Father John A. Hardon. "Particular Examen on the Theological Virtues." Catholic Prayer Book: with meditations (Bardstown, Kentucky: Inter Mirifica, 1999): 101-105.
Reprinted with permission from Inter Mirifica.
Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. (1914-2000) was a tireless apostle of the Catholic faith. The author of over twenty-five books including Catholic Prayer Book, The Catholic Catechism, Modern Catholic Dictionary, Pocket Catholic Dictionary, Pocket Catholi Catechism, Q & A Catholic Catechism, Treasury of Catholic Wisdom, Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan and many other Catholic books and hundreds of articles, Father Hardon was a close associate and advisor of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. Order Father Hardon's home study courses here.
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