Examination of Conscience Invites Conversion

Father Guibert observes: “Every tradesman who has the prosperity of his house at heart remains faithfully at his place of business; he receives the goods himself, he takes care of their safety and checks their sale; he keeps his books accurately, and often compares his cash balance with his accounts. His vigilance eliminates the causes of loss, and adds to the number of opportunities for making a profit. Whilst ruin enters surreptitiously into the dwelling of the careless man who neglects his affairs, fortune awaits him whose careful eye provides for everything.”

“It is the same in the sphere of morality. Self-examination is the safeguard in it for the most sacred interests of the soul.”

“It is, indeed, by the examination of his conscience that a man enters into his own heart. There he is the witness of the feelings that arise, of the passions which disturb him, and of the failings that bring humiliation upon him; he sees the good aspirations that come to grief, and the bad impulses that get the upper hand; and, aware of his wretchedness, and also of his strength, he knows both what to dread and what he may hope for.”

“And this knowledge agitates and arouses him, and makes him form good resolutions. For, however low he may have fallen, there is still within him a deep instinct, which is inherent in his nature, and which protests against what is wrong. It is, indeed, an echo of the voice of God that reverberates in a man’s conscience when he is overtaken with remorse at the sight of the sins that he has committed or of the failings into which he has fallen. If so many people daze themselves with dissipation in order not to hear such reproaches as these, and if they flee from themselves in order not to perceive the stains in their own hearts, it is because they wish to evade the painful effort of reaction that a sight of their wretchedness would stimulate in their souls.”

“The examination of conscience is not in itself a remedy for the ills of the soul. But it effectively invites the soul to take the remedy that will cure it.”

Quotations from Jean Guibert, On the Exercises of Piety (London: R. & T. Washbourne, Ltd., 1911).

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