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Sacred Heart

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Teaching the Devotion to the Sacred Heart

Part V

Monthly Examination of Conscience for High School Students

Editors: Thomas Diehl, S.J. and John Hardon, S. J.

These monthly examination-of-conscience outlines were originally prepared for use by Sodalists, but they were revised to make them applicable to all high school students.


My Spiritual Exercises

  1. It is vain to say that I am a true follower of Christ if I am not making a sincere effort to carry out the duties that the Sacred Heart expects of a Catholic student.

  2. Morning prayers? Do I make an act of faith, hope, and love? Do I say my morning offering with intention to gain the indulgences that I can during the day? Do I say three Hail Marys?

  3. Mass? The Catholic ideal calls for daily Mass, if possible. This “if possible” does not mean “if I find it easy to do so.” No one finds it easy. Is it possible for me to go to Mass daily? What sacrifices I make to do things I naturally like to do---games, trips, and parties. Yet, will I arrange my daily schedule so that I am able to attend Mass in the morning?

  4. Communion? At every Mass I attend? Am I anxious to get close to Christ, my Friend, King, and Lord? What are the things that usually keep me away from daily Communion?

  5. Prayer? Do I have a special time set aside for my daily prayers? Do I have a special place where I will not be distracted? Do I take a reverent posture? Kneeling? Sitting reverently? Or do I lounge while trying to raise my mind and heart to God?

  6. Do I ever try to practice mental prayer? On Christ in the Gospels? According to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius? On some mysteries of the rosary? Using some spiritual book or pamphlet?

  7. Do I realize that prayer consists chiefly not in having good thoughts, but in “talking things over with Christ” ---acts of faith, hope, love, contrition, adoration, thanksgiving, and petition.

  8. Do I ask my heavenly Mother to help me pray well?

  9. Daily rosary? Is this my special devotion to Mary? Do I have a set time? Do I try to think of the mysteries? Do I know the mysteries? Do I think of myself as “speaking the praises of our Lady” --talking to her--as I say my daily rosary?

  10. Examination of Conscience? Do I make it before retiring? On my knees? Do I ask myself the very important question, “How have I served Christ our Lord today?” In what have I failed? Do I make an act of perfect contrition?

ASPIRATION FOR THE MONTH: “Heart of Jesus, I put my trust in You.” (300 days)


Sacred Heart Apostolate

  1. Do I realize that as a friend of the Sacred Heart I must bring Christ to others? Do I practice this apostolate among my fellow students?

  2. Have I helped other students come closer to Christ by my perfect observance of school regulations?

  3. In my prayers do I remember to mention other students?

  4. Do I help others by showing a generous enthusiasm for all school projects?

  5. Am I willing to do the “dirty jobs” to help make a success of our school activities?

  6. Do I stimulate interest in the spiritual activity of the Apostleship of Prayer by “talking up” good Catholic books, plays, and magazines?

  7. Do I try to bring lofty thoughts into ordinary “bull sessions” in a pleasant way?

  8. Do I make suggestions for improving our Catholic school spirit?

  9. Do I read all the books and pamphlets necessary to make me a good Catholic and a good apostle of the Sacred Heart?

  10. Do I encourage others by faithful attendance at meetings and other activities that the Sodality and other religious organizations sponsor or participate in?

  11. Do I discuss the progress and difficulties involved in leading a good Catholic life?

  12. Am I helpful to younger members of the school?

  13. What in particular can I do to improve my fidelity to religious duties?

  14. What can I do to encourage others to be more Christlike?

  15. Can Christ and Mary be justly proud of my performance as a Catholic student? If not, what will I do to improve during the coming month?

ASPIRATON FOR THE MONTH: “Sacred Heart of Jesus, Your kingdom come.” (300 days)


School Apostolate

  1. Do I obey the rules of the school, even those I might consider “minor regulations”?

  2. Am I too solicitous about what other people think of me?

  3. Do I, by my friendliness, try to promote good feeling between the student body and the faculty?

  4. Do I participate in at least one extracurricular activity? Am I cooperative with the moderator, or can he count on me only when I find the request to my liking and convenience? Am I on time for practices, meetings, and so forth? Am I helpful to other members of the activity? Am I seeking merely personal publicity?

  5. Am I friendly to classmates in general, or do I belong to a clique, a closed circle? Perhaps I don’t even know my classmates!

  6. Do I ever compliment my fellow students on a job well done, an award or office won, a touchdown scored, a game well played?

  7. Do I attend all spiritual activities of the school: novenas, Holy Hours, October rosary, May devotions, and so forth? Do I ever make an effort to bring a friend to these activities?

  8. Do I attend games or other activities that the school sponsors or participates in?

  9. Am I seriously interested in the good reputation of the school? Would I discourage rowdyism, for example, in stores and eating places where our crowd gathers? Do I discourage rowdyism at sports events, other contests, on buses, and so forth?

  10. Do I, according to my opportunities, strive to make our school one that the Sacred Heart and Blessed Mother would be proud of?

  11. How is my conduct in chapel? Do I kneel straight? Do I kneel and pray after entering the chapel? What good example do I give at the October rosary, May devotions, and prayers before and after class?

  12. Do I, in the Christlike spirit, help others with their studies? Letting them copy my homework is not helping them!

  13. Do I, under all conditions, absolutely refuse to cheat?

  14. Do I realize fully the meaning of Christ’s words, “As long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me” (Matthew 25:40)?

ASPIRATION FOR THE MONTH: “May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be loved everywhere.” (300 days)


Catholic as Student

  1. Do I realize that “being a student’ is my vocation in life right now?

  2. Do I know that the best way to praise, reverence, and serve God is by being a good student?

  3. Being a good student means doing my best work. Am I ?

  4. Do I seriously cooperate with my teachers by silence and attention?

  5. Do I regard my teachers as persons placed over me by God to help me develop into a Christlike person?

  6. Do I spend an average of three hours daily on homework and study outside of class?

  7. Do I try to avoid or delay performing work I do not especially like?

  8. Do I make a serious effort to do neat, accurate work?

  9. Do I make a serious effort to improve the discipline in the class, or do I aid and encourage the “class clowns”?

  10. Do I realize that my industry and attention is a good example to others--an example that is often followed?

  11. Do I give way to feelings of jealousy when others succeed better than I?

  12. Do I indulge in proud and vain fancies over my abilities, forgetting that all my powers of mind, body, and heart are gifts to me from God?

  13. Do I contradict others--even my teachers?

  14. Do I excuse myself unnecessarily instead of accepting correction humbly?

  15. Do I seek special attention and do things merely to gain the limelight?

  16. Am I open and sincere in my dealing with teachers?

  17. Do I readily acknowledge my mistakes in school?

  18. Do I make a practice of forming friendships only with those students who make a sincere effort to do well in their studies?

ASPIRATION FOR THE MONTH: “Sacred Heart of Jesus, let me love You and make You loved.” (300 days)


Christmas Vacations, Retreat, Charity to Others

  1. Does Christ come first in my Christmas celebration? Have we a crib in our home? What other means do I take to “bring Christ into Christmas”? Do I realize that Christmas is the great gift of the Sacred Heart to all of us?

  2. Have I ever instructed my younger brothers and sisters in the true meaning of Christmas? Do I take them to visit the crib in our church and explain the Nativity scene to them?

  3. At Christmas time do I perform some additional act of charity toward Christ’s poor by bringing them packages---food, cigarettes, candy, flowers?

  4. Do I prepare seriously for my annual retreat, realizing that it is the most important time of the year for me and for Christ?

  5. Do I resolve to let nothing interfere with the silence and recollection required for a good retreat? What plans have I made to fill the non-school hours with appropriate spiritual activities during the retreat so that I will not be distracted?

  6. Have I selected a good book for spiritual reading during the retreat?

  7. Do I realize that Christ is eager to talk to me and to others in a special way during the retreat, and that I should be most careful, therefore, to be silent and attentive both for my own sake and the sake of others?

  8. Can I truly say that I am a help rather than a hindrance to the workings of God’s grace during the retreat?

  9. What resolutions have I made? What means am I taking to keep them?

  10. Do I supernaturalize my daily work through the morning offering? Do I have a picture or prayer card placed so as to remind me each morning?

  11. Do I recognize the will of God and His love for me in all authority---at home in that of my parents, at school in that of my teachers?

  12. Do I practice charity by showing love, reverence, and obedience to my parents?

  13. Do I practice charity toward my schoolmates? How often do I pray for them? Do I give good example? Am I courteous to all? Do I respect their wishes and idea? Do I grant them independence and also maintain my own?

  14. Do I show my love of God by good self-management? Do I control my imagination? Do I perform any acts of penance, such as saying some extra prayers, helping around the house, attending an extra Mass, and so forth?

  15. Do I show my love of God by striving for perfect observance of all His commandments?

ASPIRATION OF THE MONTH: “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Yours.” (500 days).


Apostolate of the Home

  1. In the morning do I rise immediately from bed when I am called, and before everything else do I say the morning offering?

  2. Am I frequently late, or the last to come to family meals? How about my manners at table? Do I wash and clean up before meals?

  3. Do I contribute to pleasant conversation at table, or am I a silent partner? Or do I complain?

  4. Do I avoid shouting, screaming, “horseplay” in the home? These all disturb the peace of family life.

  5. Am I grouch? Moody?

  6. Do I shirk my chores?

  7. Do I go to bed at a reasonable hour or do my parents have to give me orders constantly?

  8. Do I spend part of my time with the family?

  9. Do I let my mother and dad know from time to time that I appreciate all that they have done for me:

    1. By remembering birthdays and anniversaries?

    2. By complimenting them?

    3. By being grateful to them?

    4. By carrying out their commands promptly?

    5. By doing things for them even before they ask?
  1. Do I speak reverently and respectfully to and of my parents on all occasions?

  2. Do I take them into my confidence? Discuss with them troubles and problems that worry me? After all, God gave them to me as guides and counselors.

  3. What do my young brothers and sisters think of me? They are usually good judges of character.

  4. Do I help them with their schoolwork?

  5. Do I take time out to play with a younger brother; show him how to bat, pass, and so forth?

  6. Do I help my brothers and sisters with their chores if they are going someplace?

  7. Do I ever take them to a movie, game, or for a ride?

  8. Do I add to the happiness of my home by being considerate and cheerful?

  9. Am I easy to get along with?

  10. Do I try to get my brothers and sisters to go to weekday Mass and Communion with me?

  11. Do I ever suggest the family rosary at home?

ASPIRATION FOR THE MONTH: “Sacred Heart of Jesus, protect our families.” (300 days)


General Examination on Performance During the Year

Ask yourself these questions, answer them honestly---take action with yourself!

  1. Am I really grateful to God for the grace of making me a Catholic--a friend of the Sacred Heart and a companion of our Lady?

  2. Am I consciously living as a Catholic? Does this realization affect my actions?

  3. Does the Act of Consecration made to the Sacred Heart influence my way of thinking, speaking, and action, or is it merely a lot of pious sentiments and phrases?

  4. Do I pray to the Sacred Heart as a Catholic should? Ask His special protection because I am one of His companions? Ask Him for growth in holiness because I am to be like Him? Ask for favors because He loves me? Ask Him to bless my personal apostolic endeavors and those of the entire Church?

  5. Have I spoken or acted in a manner that would bring discredit upon the Catholic religion?

  6. Do my fellow students realize that I am eager and happy to support the Catholic activities of the school---October rosary, novenas, First Friday Communion, Holy Hour, May devotions, days of recollection, consistent effort in studies?

  7. Am I stubborn in holding to my opinion or am I willing to listen to the reasons of others and consider them?

  8. Do I try to cooperate generously in work in which I have only a subordinate and unimportant part?

  9. Am I always reverent in chapel? Reverent genuflection on arriving and departing? Kneeling upright?

    At Mass: Do I join in some way with the priest in offering the Holy Sacrifice? Attention? Prayer? Do I try to go to confession outside the time for Mass rather than during the Mass itself? Do I always arrive on time for Mass?

    At Chapel Talks: Do I ask God to help the priest say something that will help my schoolmates and me? Do I give my full attention to what the priest is saying? Do I apply what is said to myself (not to other fellows) in an effort to become holier? Do I realize that God talks to me through instructions given by His priests?

    Reception of Holy Communion: In approaching the altar rail and returning, are my hands folded reverently and my eyes lowered? Do I kneel for some time after receiving our Lord?

  10. Am I friendly, kind, helpful, to all my fellow students? Do I judge them more severely than I judge myself and do I expect more of them than of myself? Am I given to criticizing them and their actions? Do I try to “get even” when someone has slighted me? “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

ASPIRATION FOR THE MONTH: “All for You, most Sacred Heart of Jesus.” (300 days)


Apostolate of the Parish

  1. Am I aware of the fact that my pastor is put over me by God to guide me, as well as all the other members of our parish, to heaven?

  2. Do I make this task easier by cooperating generously in all parish activities?

  3. Do I complain about the lack of activity in my parish, but do nothing to help the situation?

  4. Have I ever suggested to the pastor or his assistants activities that would be of interest to the young people, or how to improve those which already exist?

  5. Do I encourage others to participate in such activities as the Apostleship of Prayer, Sodality, CYO, St. Vincent de Paul, choir, and so forth?

  6. Do I ever volunteer my services for jobs which the pastor may want done?

  7. What parish organizations do I belong to? Am I faithful and punctual in attending meetings? Do I take an active part in the meetings?

  8. Can I say truly that being a member of Apostleship of Prayer at school has made me a better member of my parish?

  9. Do I go out of my way to be friendly to the pastor and his assistants?

  10. Do I try to build up the morale of the parish by always speaking well of the pastor and other priests, or do I sometimes complain about regulations which may seem unreasonable to me?

  11. Do I give good example to others by my frequent attendance at Mass and reception of the sacraments?

  12. Do I try to contribute something each week to help the parish financially?

  13. Have I ever thought that I may well be the cause of helping others in the parish to be better Catholics and more pleasing to God?

  14. Do I try to pick my friends from among the parish groups, and thereby establish a good spirit among the boys and girls of my own age?

  15. What can I do to make my parish more pleasing to God? What are the obstacles to this? How ill I overcome them?

  16. How often do I pray for my pastor, the parish priests, and those who are under their care?

ASPIRATION FOR THE MONTH: “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in Your love for me.” (300 days)


Thinking with the Church

  1. Do I always speak with reverence and respect about the Church and God’s representatives on earth--the pope, bishops, priests, religious brothers, and sisters?

  2. Do I approve at once what I know the holy father has said on a matter that concerns the faith and morals of Catholics?

  3. Do I seek to approve the regulations and decisions of the cardinal, or bishop, or pastor?

  4. Do I speak critically of the personal failings or actions of priests?

  5. Do I try to justify my attitude on some matter disapproved by the Church by saying, “But everybody does it”?

  6. Specifically, do I think and act with the Church on matters like these:

    1. Not attending a non-Catholic college?

    2. Not dating non-Catholic girls (boys)?

    3. Not ‘going steady’?

    4. Not indulging in intoxicating beverages outside family circles?

    5. Observing the diocesan regulations on school dances?

    6. In my attitude toward Negroes, Jews, and so forth?

    7. In condemning not only communism but unbridled capitalism as well?

    8. By trying as best I can to improve the economic condition of the poor?

    9. By associating only with girls (boys) who observe the norms of modesty?

    10. By observing the standards established in my Legion of Decency pledge?

  7. Do I manifest my Catholicity by:

    1. Greeting priests and sisters respectfully when I meet them on the street?

    2. Tipping my hat when I pass a Catholic church?

ASPIRATION FOR THE MONTH: “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I give myself to You through Mary.” (300 days)


Catholic Way of Life During Summer Vacation

  1. Do I look upon summer merely as a time of vacation, or do I also see in it countless opportunities to improve myself spiritually, as well as physically, mentally, and socially?

  2. Have I firmly resolved that my spiritual life will not be allowed to suffer just because I am away from school for a few months?

  3. Have I tried to foresee the special difficulties that will confront my spiritual life during the summer and have I taken means to overcome them?

  4. Do I keep a faithful check on my daily duties---Mass, Communion, daily prayers, rosary, Catholic reading, and devotions?

  5. If I experience difficulty with prayer during the summer, do I make any extra effort to remain faithful?

  6. Have I selected some form of apostolate that is suitable for the summer months when I won’t be in such close contact with other Catholic students? What is it? How will I go about it?

  7. How often do I attend Mass and receive Communion during the summer? Could I possibly increase this number in some way?

  8. How often do I go to confession during the summer? Do I always try to get someone else go with me--one of my friends, a neighbor, and so forth?

  9. Could I visit the Blessed Sacrament more frequently, for example, on my way home from work?

  10. Do I have some good Catholic books? Do I read them faithfully every day--even for a short time?

  11. Am I faithful in attending whatever religious activities may be planned for the summer months?

  12. Am I planning to attend the Summer School of Catholic Action to learn more about my Catholic way of life and to exchange ideas with other Catholic students?

  13. What is the greatest obstacle I will face this summer in my effort to gain grace? What am I doing to overcome it? Have I discussed it with my director?

  14. What practice can I adopt that will most help me to follow the Sacred Heart more closely?

  15. Am I as faithful a Catholic during the summer as I am during the school year? If not, why not? What will I do to remedy this situation?

ASPIRATION FOR THE MONTH: “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.” (500 days)

Copyright © 1999 Inter Mirifica

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