Pope Francis recommended making an examination of conscience at the end of each day as a way to invite Jesus into the joys and struggles of daily life.
“Indeed, for us to it is important to reread our history together with Jesus: the story of our life, of a certain period, of our days, with its disappointments and hopes,” the pope said April 23.
“There is a good way of doing this, and today I would like to propose it to you: it consists of dedicating time, every evening, to a brief examination of conscience,” he said. “What happened inside of me today? That is the question. It means rereading the day with Jesus.”
Pope Francis addressed a crowd of around 30,000 people on Sunday from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
After his brief message, he prayed the Regina Caeli, a Latin antiphon honoring the Virgin Mary which is usually prayed during the Easter Season.
Francis said making an examination of conscience is a way of “rereading my day, opening the heart, bringing to him people, choices, fears, falls, hopes, and all of the things that took place; to learn gradually to look at things with different eyes, with his eyes and not only our own.”
A nightly examination of conscience is also sometimes known as a daily examen, a part of the spirituality developed by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
The pope spoke about the spiritual practice in the context of the Gospel passage for the Third Sunday of Easter, which recounts Jesus’ appearance to two of his disciples while they were walking from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus.
At first, the disciples did not recognize the resurrected Lord, who asked them to explain what had happened to make them so sad.
Jesus, the pope said, “wants to listen to their account. Then, while they are walking, he helps them reinterpret the facts in a different way, in the light of prophecy, in the light of the Word of God.”
“We too, like those disciples, faced with what happens to us, can find ourselves lost in the face of these events, alone and uncertain, with many questions and worries, disappointments, many things,” he explained.
“Today’s Gospel invites us to tell Jesus everything,” he continued, “sincerely, without worrying about bothering him — he listens — without fear of saying something wrong, without being ashamed of our struggle to understand.”
Pope Francis explained that the Lord is happy when we open ourselves to him, because he wants to accompany us, and to make our hearts burn within us, like happened with the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
By making an examen, we are able to reread our day and life in the light of Christ’s love, he said.
“Even that which seems wearisome and unsuccessful,” he explained, “can appear in another light: a difficult cross to embrace, the decision to forgive an offense, a lost opportunity, the toil of work, the sincerity that comes at a price, and the trials of family life can appear to us in a new light, the light of the Crucified and Risen, who knows how to turn every fall into a step forward.”
But, he added, we have to drop our defenses and leave space for Jesus.
“We can begin today, to dedicate this evening a moment of prayer during which we ask ourselves: how was my day?” he said.
“What joys, what sadnesses, what monotonies, how was it, what happened?” are some of the questions we can ask ourselves, he said, together with “what were its pearls, possibly hidden, to be thankful for? Was there a little love in what I did? And what are the falls, the sadness, the doubts and fears to bring to Jesus so that he can open new ways to me, to lift me up and encourage me?”
“May Mary, wise Virgin, help us to recognize Jesus who walks with us and to reread, ‘reread’ is the word, every day of our life in front of him,” he said.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.