In keeping with the Lenten theme of self examination and considerations for reconciliation with our neighbors, ...and as we come together to make our corporate confessions on Sunday morning in the Eucharist, I have provided the below words from the teacher St. Augustine of Hypo. I encourage all of us to take some quiet time throughout our busy days to contemplate on these words.
From Saint Augustine's Prayer Book
Before self-examination say this prayer:
O Holy Spirit, Source of all light, Spirit of wisdom, of understanding and of knowledge, come to my assistance and enable me to make a good confession to you. Enlighten me, and help me now to know my sins as one day I shall be forced to recognize them before your judgment seat. Bring to mind the evil which I have done and the good which I have neglected. Permit me not to be blinded by self-love. Grant me, moreover, heartfelt sorrow for my transgressions, knowing how deeply they have wounded the loving heart of my Heavenly Father; and help me to make a good confession that all stain of guilt may be washed away in the Precious Blood of my Saviour Jesus Christ.
Think of yourself as God's child, and of the wickedness of following evil rather than your loving Father. Do not be in a hurry, and do not vex yourself because you cannot remember everything. Be honest with God and with yourself; this is all God asks of you. Do not fret about your sins. Remember, you are trying to recall them in order that you may be forgiven, not that you may be condemned, A broken and contrite heart, O Lord, shalt thou not despise.
Consider the following examples of areas that distract us from our relationship with God. We may know them as the seven sins that commonly invade our spiritual wholeness. Each of these conditions has longer and deeper explanations. Are we to look them up and see all the conditions under each statement, we can be better informed of the depth of each condition.
PRIDE: is putting self in the place of God as the center and objective of our life, or of some department thereof. It is the refusal to recognize our status as creatures, dependent on God for our existence, and placed by him in a specific relationship to the rest of his creation.
ANGER: is open rebellion against God or our fellow creatures. Its purpose and desire is to eliminate any obstacle to our self-seeking, to retaliate against any threat to our security, to avenge insult or injury to our person.
ENVY: is dissatisfaction with our place in God's order of creation, manifested in begrudging his gifts and vocations to others.
COVETOUSNESS: is the refusal to respect the integrity of other creatures, expressed in the inordinate accumulation of material things; in the use of other persons for our personal advantage; or in the quest for status, power or security at their expense. Inordinate Ambition. Pursuit of status, power, influence, reputation, or possessions at the expense of the moral law, of other obligations, or of the rights of others. Ruthless or unfair competition. Putting self or family first. Conformity to standards we recognize as wrong or inadequate in order to get ahead. Intrigue or conspiracy for self-advancement.
GLUTTONY: is the overindulgence of natural appetites for food and drink, and by extension the inordinate quest for pleasure or comfort. Intemperance. Overindulgence in food, drink, smoking, or other physical pleasures. Fastidiousness, fussiness, demanding excessively high standards, or dilettantism. Condemnation of some material things or pleasures as evil in themselves, attempting to prohibit their use rather than their abuse. Lack of Discipline.
Negligence in keeping the days of fasting or abstinence, or failure to use other needed means of self-discipline. Neglect of bodily health or not getting sufficient rest, recreation, exercise or wholesome nourishment. Failure to use or to cooperate with available medical care when ill. Use of sickness as a means of escape from responsibilities.
LUST: is the misuse of sex for personal gratification, debasing it from the holy purpose for which God has given it to us. Unchastity. Violation of the Church's marriage laws. Lack of consideration for one's partner in the use of the marital relationship. Refusal to fulfill the purpose of Holy Matrimony in the bringing forth and giving adequate care to children, or to take our full share in the responsibilities or work involved. Unfaithfulness to one's spouse. Sexual indulgence outside matrimony, in thought or act, alone or with others. Immodesty.
Stimulation of sexual desire in others by word, dress, or actions; or in one's self by reading, pictures, or fantasies. Collecting or recounting dirty stories.
SLOTH: is the refusal to respond to our opportunities for growth, service or sacrifice. Laziness. Indolence in performing spiritual, mental or physical duties, or neglect of family, business or social obligations or courtesies. Procrastination of disliked tasks. Busyness or triviality to avoid more important commitments. Devotion of excessive time to rest, recreation, amusement, television, or the like. Waste of employer's time, or shoddy or inadequate work. Indifference.
Prayer after Self-Examination
O my God, how great are my sins! Would that I had never offended thee. If by carelessness or ignorance I have forgotten anything in my self-examination, show it to me now that I make a good confession. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.