Daily Examen: Part 2 of 3
A Method of Examen based on the Psalms
An Examen from John Paul II General Audience Wednesday, 4 February 2004
We now come to the 11 requirements listed by the Psalmist, which can constitute the basis for a personal examination of conscience every time we prepare ourselves to confess our sins in order to be admitted to communion with the Lord in the liturgical celebration.
The first three conditions are of a general kind and express an ethical choice:
to follow the path of moral integrity,
to do what is right and, lastly,
to speak with perfect sincerity (cf. Ps 15: 2).
Three duties follow. We could describe them as relations with our neighbor:
to abstain from slander,
to avoid every action that could harm our brethren
and to refrain every day from reproaching those who live beside us (cf. v. 3).
Then comes the request for a clear choice of position in the social context:
to despise the reprobate,
to honor those who fear God.
Finally, a list follows of the last three precepts on which to make an examination of conscience: to keep one’s word or an oath faithfully, despite damaging consequences for ourselves; not to practice usury, a scourge that is also a reality in our time and has a stranglehold on many peoples’ lives; and lastly, to avoid all forms of corruption in public life, another commitment that we should also be able to practice rigorously today (cf. v. 5).
Those who act in accordance with the Psalmist’s instructions, our prayer concludes, “shall never be moved” (Ps 15: 5). In his Tractatus super Psalmos St Hilary of Poitiers, a fourth-century Father and Doctor of the Church, comments on the Psalm’s finale, linking it to the initial image of the tent of the temple of Zion: “Acting in accordance with these precepts, we dwell in the tent and rest on the mountain. May the preservation of the precepts and the work of the commandments, therefore, endure unchanged. This Psalm must be anchored in our inmost depths, it must be engraved on our hearts, stored in our memories; the treasure of its rich brevity must confront us night and day. Thus, having acquired its riches on our way towards eternity and dwelling in the Church, we will be able to rest at last in the glory of Christ’s Body” (PL 9, 308).