November 20, 2011

Bonaventure's Examination of Conscience

The other day I was reflecting on St. Bonaventure's instructions for novices and the model for confession he provides in them. These are the things on which the conscience should be examined and confession made:

  • Offenses against the Rule, especially as regards obedience, poverty, and chastity
  • Negligence or irreverence in the Liturgy of the Hours
  • Ingratitude for all God's spiritual and temporal gifts and blessings
  • Inadequate love of God and neighbor
  • Wasting of time, idleness, and listening to and engaging in empty, useless, harmful, and laugh-provoking talk
  • Failure to vigorously resist improper, harmful, and peevish thoughts
  • Over-eager eating and drinking
  • Procrastination regarding the carrying out of good resolutions God has inspired
  • Rash judgment of others
  • Futile rejoicing and sorrowing
  • Lack of sorrow for sins


Cloister said...

Dearest Friar,

I can see quickly and easily that I fail in all these areas, but I would not confess all these failings as sins. Some, indeed, I would consider to be good things. Can you expand further and help us learn your thoughts behind this post?

Yours lovingly,

Judy Kallmeyer said...

Thank you for this article. I will find it helpful.

lake said...

Great list - thanks!!

Lee Gilbert said...

"Wasting of time, idleness, and listening to and engaging in empty, useless, harmful, and laugh-provoking talk"

There are plenty of people who would read this and think, "Wait a minute... aren't we supposed to be joyful? What's the matter with a good laugh?"

Yet I heard a talk by a Dominican friar a few years ago that has really given me pause for thought. He offered the suggestion that possibly we are not seeing miracles as they did in the Middle Ages precisely because of our humorous treatment of holy things. Treating them in this manner is treating them profanely- which is sacrilegious- so God withholds His blessing.

Once one becomes aware of this possibility, it is stunning how lightly we often speak of some of the most sacred things. And it seems to me this is especially true among priests and religious as a kind of occupational hazard. Listen up in the sacristy, in the refectory, in the rec room. The Seven Sacraments, the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit or even the Trinity can become the straightmen for humorous remarks. Often they are very funny, and intended in the lightest and most innocent way possible, yet on this view it's a great mistake.

"A priest, a Protestant minister and a rabbi go to the races..." begins one of my very favorite, clean and light-hearted jokes. Yet if my Dominican friend is right- and I think he is- the telling of it is not pleasing to God, is standing in the way of miracles.

Soaked in comedy as we Americans are, my guess is that the typical reaction to this line of thinking would be, "O c'mon!" Yet, we may well find the men of the Middle-Ages, St. Dominic and St. Bonaventure among them, passing judgment on us at the resurrection of the dead. We know how to tell a joke, but they knew how to bring miracles down from Heaven.

Anonymous said...

Oy Veh, have I sined:through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.I had wanted to respond to this post when it was first posted but was unsure of how to word my comments. It took a later post to find the exact phrase.