Here is a helpful acronym when we are preparing for confession or making an examination of conscience at the end of the day: BAKER.
Blessings: Call to mind the people, things, and events you are thankful for from the day.
Ask the Holy Spirit to allow you to see your flaws and sins from today.
Kill: Acknowledgment that these are the sins that killed Jesus, that nailed him to the Cross.
Embrace Christ and his Cross and ask him for mercy.
Resolve to do better and not commit these sins tomorrow.
Daily Examination of Conscience
The daily examination of conscience (shown above) is a process that grows in impact and intensity the more often one enters into it. Based on an Ignatian examination and approach to prayer, this cannot be taken as a one-off prayer tool, but a rhythm of reflection that allows the Christian to become more joyful, gracious, humble, and intimately knowledgeable of Christ’s unconditional love. For true effectiveness, BAKER should be used toward the end of our day or before our night prayer.
A grateful demeanor is the prescription written throughout the pages of the Bible and the lives of the saints as the anecdote to defeat sin. The spiritual genius of this examination of conscience is its foundation in a thankful heart. First, we call to mind the multitude of gifts bestowed on us throughout our day from people, places, events, and things that we may often take for granted. There are always more blessings than sins in our lives. When we quiet our minds and hearts to all that occurred throughout our day, gratitude will become our perspective even when prayer ends.
Before we call to mind our faults from the day, we ask for the intercession of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate that always stands at our side and empowers us to live out the call of a disciple. Here, we are called to pause and envision the power of God rushing into the space we find ourselves in. Through the lens of God’s presence we will come to reside in the place where we can vividly see how we fell short in our relationships with God and others on this day. Quietly, we can list these faults to the Father, through the Holy Spirit, and in recognition of the death of the Son.
Once we list our sins we acknowledge that these are the actions that nailed Christ to the Cross, that killed him. Jesus takes upon himself the sins of the world: past, present, and future and he strips them of their power. The abandonment, humiliation, beating, and suffering he endured were consequences of sinful humanity. In deep reverence we embrace the Cross and ask Christ that his mercy be poured upon us in abundance. These words and actions are not a figment of the Christian’s imagination, but a reality that we neglect to enter into because of the degrading aspect of sin.
However, Christ’s cross and resurrection set us free from the rule of sin and death. This examination is not meant to drown us in the misery of our imperfections, but to elevate us to a position where the blessings bestowed upon us and the forgiveness offered to us swallow up our inclination to fall again tomorrow. BAKER allows each one of us to become more aware of the gifts that we are given each day, recall our faults, recognize the offer of forgiveness, and accept the reality that we do not have to fall again tomorrow. So, we resolve to do better the next day. Taken as a daily discipline, it can become a powerful encounter with the proximity of God and a flame that destroys sin and empowers holiness.
Fire of Love
As many diocese’s begin to engage again in public worship, and confessions become more readily available, we can begin to prepare for our sacramental forgiveness through this daily reflection that guarantees to carve us out into the disciples Christ calls to follow him, wherever he goes. Examining our lives through this lens portrays the beautiful fact that our worth does not come from the summary of our flaws, but from the inexhaustible fire of love that extinguishes every fear and molds us into his likeness.
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Thomas Griffin teaches apologetics in the Religion Department at a Catholic high school and lives on Long Island with his wife. He has a master’s degree in theology from St. Joseph’s Seminary and College along with a bachelor’s degree in theology and philosophy from Molloy College. Thomas has written for several online Catholic blogs. Follow his (and his twin brother’s) article posts and videos @CalledTwin.