Examining one’s conscience is an ancient practice that is still important and efficient today. Francis underlined this in his homily for this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House.
The Pope urged faithful to “watch and guard our hearts well,” seeking silence to speak with oneself and with God; “to have a gathering heart, a heart in which we know what happens;” to prevent one’s heart from turning into a square, where people come and go. A heart without intimacy, a heart where the Lord cannot speak and cannot even be heard.” This is the path Francis advises us to follow in life: getting to know oneself, watching out for “demons”, “wicked thoughts, wicked intentions, jealousy and envy.” In order to achieve this, Pope Francis recommends us to “perform a practice as old as the Church, but good:” to examine our conscience.
Commenting on the Gospel of the day, the Pope reminded faithful that the devil always comes back to us, even after the desert and throughout Jesus’ life. He never stopstempting man. This is why “we need to guard our hearts, where the Holy Spirit dwells,” the Pope said, “so that other spirits do not enter. To guard the heart, as a house is guarded, with a key.” “And then to watch the heart, like a sentinel: How often do wicked thoughts, wicked intentions, jealousy, envy enter in? So many things that enter in. But who has opened that door? Where do they enter from? If I do not realize [how much] enters into my heart, my heart becomes a piazza, where everything comes and goes. A heart without intimacy, a heart where the Lord cannot speak and cannot even be heard.”
“And Jesus says something else here – doesn’t He? – that sounds a little strange: ‘He who does not gather with me scatters.’ He uses the word ‘to gather.’ To have a gathering heart, a heart in which we know what happens, and here and there you can perform a practice as old as the Church, but good: the examination of conscience. Who of us, at night, at the end of the day, remains by himself, by herself, and asks the question: what happened today in my heart? What happened? What things have passed through my heart? If we don’t do this, we have truly failed to know how to watch and guard [our hearts] well.”
“The examination of conscience,” as Francis described it, “is a grace, because to guard our heart is to guard the Holy Spirit, Who is within us.”
“We know – Jesus says clearly – that the devil always returns. Even at the end of life, He, Jesus, gives us an example of this. And to guard, to watch, so that the demons don’t enter in, we must be able to gather ourselves, that is, to stand in silence before ourselves and before God, and at the end of the day ask ourselves: ‘What happened today in my heart? Did anyone I don’t know enter? Is the key in its place?’ And this will help us to defend ourselves from so much wickedness, even from that which we could do if these demons, who are very clever and at the end would cheat all of us, even if they enter.”