What Does Heroic Virtue Look Like? A New Examination of Conscience

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Photo by Hans (2015) via . All rights reserved.

Photo by Hans (2015) via Pixabay.All rights reserved.

Confession is kind of a big thing in our parish. Our priest recommends Confession at least twice a month for those not just looking for forgiveness, but who are striving for sanctity for love of Our Lord. And judging by the length of the Confession lines before and after Mass, I would say there are many souls headed in the right direction.

I, too, enjoy the benefits of weekly Confession, but I have found that my standard examination did not always reveal areas that needing polishing. I wondered what it takes to be a Saint, beyond simply keeping the Commandments. What did heroic virtue actually look like to other people? And to the Church?

Before I knew it, I found myself online, searching for the answers to my questions. No surprise – I found those answers within the Church, through her list of questions asked of those holy souls being considered for Sainthood. The list is lengthy, but it is a treasure trove of thought provoking questions meant to reveal much about where one’s heart truly resides. And while my frequent trips to the Confessional has helped root out mortal sin, these questions uncovered many areas in my life where I could be better expressing my love for Our Lord.

I invite you to pour yourself a cup of coffee and take your time considering where you stand with each of these questions. Brace yourself!  Some of these may make you a bit uncomfortable!

Temperance
Was denial of her own will and mortification characteristics of the servant of God?
Did she restrain the motions of anger?
Did she bear persecutions with meekness and patience?
Was she unduly tenacious of her own opinion?
Was she sparing in the use of food and drink?
Did she observe the fasts of the church?
Did she indulge in long hours of sleep?
Was her bed comfortable or uncomfortable?
Was she anxious to be well clothed and well housed?
Did she neglect the comforts of life?
Did she mortify the senses?
Did she love silence and solitude?
Was she modest in her demeanor?

Fortitude
Was she strong and faithful in the duties of her office; tireless in work; patient in persecution, injury, calumny, and trouble of mind? Has she born all these in a cheerful spirit?
Was she always herself not elated by prosperity or depressed by adversity?
Did she despise the honors, riches, and pleasures of the world?
Did she constantly defend the rights of the church and restrain the immorality of wicked men?

Justice
Was she affable and friendly toward others?
Was she subject to her parents and superiors?
Did she show herself thankful for favors received? And strive to excite gratitude in others?
Did she discharge with justice the office committed to her avoiding all favoritism?
Did she so temper the severity of justice with kindness the no one could ever have just cause of complaint against her?
Did she render unto God due reverence and obedience?
Did she pay venerations to the Saints?
Did she accept the decrees of the Supreme Pontiffs with proper respect and reverence?
Was she exact in the observance of the sacred rites and ceremonies of the Church?
Did she endeavor to promote the worship of God?
Did she respect the rights of all and give them what was due to them?
Did she hate usury and fraud of every kind?

Prudence
Did she direct all of her actions to the attainment of eternal glory as her last end, and select the necessary and useful means?
Did she love simplicity, and was she sincere and true in thought and word, and did she hate all duplicity and falsehood?
Did she seek the advice of prudent men and act on it?
Were all her acts good, and did she first invoke Divine aid for their due performance?
Had she a deep hatred of idleness as a source of vice, and did she love meditation and solitude?

Faith
Did she often return thanks to God that she was born in the bosom of the Catholic Church or that she was given the grace of conversion to it, and pray that all would be brought within Her fold?
Did she burn with the desire of propagating the faith?
Did she teach the truths of Christianity to the faithful, and did she teach the catechism?
Did she rejoice when some erring soul was converted to the Catholic faith?
Was she grieved when the Church suffered loss or persecution?
Was the decoration of the house of God dear to her, and the observance of the sacred ceremonies?
Did she love devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and endeavor to propagate it? How?
Did she pray long and frequently before the Blessed Sacrament?
Did she show a tender devotion to the passion of Jesus Christ?  Did she often meditate on the mystery? With what fervor and piety? And did she strive to enkindle this devotion in others?
Did she burn with desire for shedding her blood for the truths of the faith?
Did she venerate the Sacred Scriptures and the writings of the Holy Fathers?
Did she obey the laws of the church and the commands of her superiors?
Did she show honor to the sovereign pontiff and all the ministers of God?
Did she desire to gain indulgences?
Did she hate all bad books and everything opposed to the faith?
Did she frequently approach the sacrament of penance and the blessed Eucharist?

Hope
Did she firmly hope for salvation from the merits of Christ our Lord?
Did she despise the things of the world and how did she show her contempt?
In trying circumstances did she place her trust in God alone and have recourse to prayer?
Did she show her hope in God by ardent and pious exclamations?
Did she raise up others to confidence in God?
Did she show desire by word and work to suffer for eternal glory, and did she rejoice at the near approach of death as the beginning of true life?
With what confidence did she practice good works?  Did she strive to excite this confidence in others?
In adversity was she resigned to the goodness of God and the decrees of His providence?
Did she direct her desires and all her actions to God as her last end?
Did she bear cheerfully adversity and persecution?
Did she desire with Saint Paul to be dissolved and be with Christ, and did she bear suffering and infirmity with a joyous spirit?

Charity
Towards Neighbors
Did she pray for the conversion of sinners?
What were the relations to her enemies? Did she forgive them, receive them meekly, and pray for them?
Did she prevent discord?
Had she at heart the good name of others?
With what frequency and fervor did she offer up prayers of the souls of the deceased?
Did she comfort the afflicted?
Did she excuse, when opportune, the defects of others?
What was her attitude toward the sick?
Did she love the poor, help them according to her ability, and strive to induce others to assist them?
Did she instruct the ignorant and give council to those in doubt?
Did she admonish sinners and restore peace and concord among the quarrelsome?
Did she devote herself to the physical and spiritual well being of the sick?

Towards God
Was her mind always fixed on God and in union with God, and by what acts, words, or aspirations was this union made manifest?
Did she hate sin and take care to preserve herself free from every defect?
Did she speak often of God?
Was her prayer constant and fervent?
Did she remain long in prayer before the most Blessed Sacrament?
Did she lead others the practice of prayer? How?
Did she meditate on the passion of Christ?
By what acts did she show her devotion to the Passion?
How did she show devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary?
Did she prevent the commission of sin, and feel sorrow for it when committed by others?
Did she endeavor to inflame others with charity toward God?
Did she by fasting and mortification bring the flesh into subjection that she might be more pleasing to God?
Had she a supernatural desire for affliction, contradiction, contempt and how did she bear them?
Did she endeavor with all her might to excite others to praise the divine goodness?

 

After reading over these questions, how well do you feel you are living your Catholic life for all to see? Are there areas you have been neglecting? How do you think you could bring what you have learned to your children to better prepare them to live their Catholic life as the Saints did?

Copyright 2015 Cassandra Poppe
Photo by Hans (2015) via Pixabay. All rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  1. What a challenging post! Thank you for it Cassandra. I’ve never actually looked at the requirements for sainthood except for the need for miracles. As a mom with 3 small children, I think for me some of the more difficult questions at this point are the ones talking about spending long hours in prayer and silence. That and indulging in too much sleep. I am definitely a sleeper…..God bless!

    • LOL I love my sleep as well! Thankfully, by morning, I have at least 2 little ones in bed with us, turning even the most comfortable bed into a source of sanctification!
      What I love about this list is that they don’t just challenge me to ‘be good’. They challenge me to love. And that is something we mothers can work on while we go about our daily duties.

      God bless!

    • Oh Joanna, try not to look at it as another list of possible rules to break. All of these, if you think about it, are the many ways in which we can love and serve Our Lord. Instead of checking off the sins you committed when using the usual examine of conscience, use this list as a springboard for ways you show God you love Him. Ask Him to give you the grace of a deeper love. It is a prayer He is sure to answer! This list reminds me to keep myself in check. I act according to whatever section of the list I am currently working on, and pretty soon, the actions become habit and the love will grow. I see this list as a gentle nudge to become a beloved of God and to give Him more of myself.

      I will pray for peace in your heart.

  2. Thank you, thank you . . . This is a great list to share with my reconciliation class. I have several different ways to examine the conscience, but I’ve never thought to look at it from a virtues standpoint.

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