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Advice From a Mother of Four Young Children

My oldest daughter, Anna (30 years old), has been married for nine years.  She and her husband, Josh, have four children, all of whom are under the age of eight.  Anna recently sent an email to everyone in our family with a suggestion:

Hi everyone,

I just started spiritual direction and we talked about making a daily examination of conscience, which I am ashamed to say I don’t usually do. . . yeah, yeah, I think sometimes about what I didn’t do right during the day, but I have never had an actual written or typed sheet of particular sins that I struggle with and that I go over every night.  I have been working on formulating my own personal examination for the past couple of days and found this examination very helpful:

If you are anything like me, which most of you probably are very grateful that you aren’t, you go to confession, look over the examination of conscience there, and feel fairly good about yourself. . . I mean, how many of us have had an abortion, stolen something, or committed adultery since our last confession?  But when I read this examination, I felt a little bit differently about myself, and there were several times I thought, “Oh, shoot . . . I’m not quite as great as I thought I was.”  Anyway, look over the examination and let me know what you think.  I think it is one of the best I have ever come across.  By the way, it’s by Father Hardon.

Go to the link and scroll about halfway down until you read the questions under “FAITH, HOPE and LOVE.”  It is an examination of the three theological virtues.

Love you and can’t wait to see everyone next month!  [Over Thanksgiving weekend when everyone will be in town.]


During the 1990s, I attended a silent men’s retreat every year in Chicago with about 70 other Catholic businessmen.  The retreat master each year was Fr. John A. Hardon, a Jesuit priest and theologian.  During each retreat, Fr. Hardon gave ten different one-hour talks to the men.  Every year, he emphasized the importance of a daily examination of conscience, which he described as a “daily inventory of your moral conduct.”

Fr. Hardon taught that the daily examination of conscience was a critical component of spiritual growth and holiness.  He emphasized the importance of setting aside time each day to make an assessment of whether we are living up to the expectations of our Creator.

A daily examination of conscience is a mini-meditation that can be performed in as little as five minutes.  The meditation itself consists of a simple reflection on whether we have been using our time to appropriately apply and respond to God’s will.

I would encourage you to print the complete examination from the website Anna recommended and work it into your daily schedule.  For a basic list of examination questions, see below.

If a busy mother of four young children can carve out the time to perform a daily examination of conscience, you and I can surely find the time to do the same.

Thanks for sharing, Anna.



  1. Do I make an honest effort to grow in the virtue of faith by daily mental prayer on the mysteries of the faith as revealed in the life of Jesus Christ?
  2. Do I make at least a short act of faith every day?
  3. Do I pray daily for an increase of faith?
  4. Do I ever tempt God by relying on my own strength to cope with the trials in my life?
  5. Do I unnecessarily read or listen to those who oppose or belittle what I know are truths of my Catholic faith?
  6. What have I done today to externally profess my faith?
  7. Have I allowed human respect to keep me from giving expression to my faith?
  8. Do I make a serious effort to resolve difficulties that may arise about my faith?
  9. Do I ever defend my faith, prudently and charitably, when someone says something contrary to what I know is to be believed?


  1. Do I immediately say a short prayer when I find myself getting discouraged?
  2. Do I say a short act of hope every day?
  3. Do I dwell on my worries instead of dismissing them from my mind?
  4. Do I fail in the virtue of hope by my attachment to the things of this world?
  5. Do I try to see God’s providence in everything that “happens” in my life?
  6. Do I try to see everything from the viewpoint of eternity?
  7. Do I allow myself to worry about my past life and thus weaken my hope in God’s mercy?
  8. Do I try to combine every fully deliberate action with at least a momentary prayer for divine help?
  9. How often today have I complained, even internally?


  1. Do I take the occasion to tell God that I love Him whenever I experience something I naturally dislike?
  2. Have I capitalized on the difficulties today to tell God that I love Him just because He sent me the trial or misunderstanding?
  3. Do I see God’s love for me in allowing me to prove my love for Him in the crosses He sent me today?
  4. Have I seen God’s grace to prove my love for Him in every person whom I met today?
  5. Have I failed in charity by speaking unkindly about others?
  6. Have I dwelt on what I considered someone’s unkindness toward me today?
  7. Did I try to carry on a conversation today with someone who is difficult to talk to?
  8. Have I allowed my mood to prevent me from being thoughtful of others today?
  9. Have I been cheerful today in my dealings with others?
  10. Do I control my uncharitable thoughts as soon as they arise in my mind?
  11. Have I performed any sacrifice today for someone?

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4 Responses to “Advice From a Mother of Four Young Children”

  1. Rich Flavin Says:

    Hello Harry,
    I looked at the list. All I can say is, “Wow….I’ve got some work to do!!” Thank you for sharing your weekly article and for the occasional kick in the pants.


  2. Harry Says:


    I had the same reaction as you did when I read through the list. The journey to heaven isn’t easy.

    Take care,


  3. Sister Roberta Houlihan, CSJ Says:

    Dear Harry and Georgette –
    I somehow MISSED reading this Perpetual Adoration writing! I don’t remember reading it!
    I’m way behind time-wise for lots of things, and now it’s time to get to the dining room, so will need to do the Website part later.
    Did Father Hardon ever use the term: EXAMINATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS in place of CONSCIENCE? The Jesuit explanation, received during my 30 Day Ignatian Retreat in 1973, refers to our being aware of God as we live out each morning, and again each afternoon, into evening. I’ll come back to the website as time permits. Love Sister Roberta

  4. Perpetual Adoration » Insulting The Dead Says:

    […] more information and a starter list for a daily examination of conscience, please see Advice From a Mother of Four Young Children, an article that I published in October 2013. You can find the article under the “Examination of […]

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