The very first line from today’s first reading hits us like a slap in the face: “You can follow the commandments if you want.” It only raises the question of whether we want to or not. It really is a question of the will; following through on what we know to be good and right.
However, this is what I hear in confession every week: “I made the choice not to go to Mass last Sunday.” “I was critical and impatient and snapped at my spouse even as I was aware that I was doing it.” “I participated in gossip, even though I know it is wrong and hurtful.”
How to solve this? One way, recommended by St. Ignatius of Loyola (the founder of the Jesuits), is to make a daily Examen. The steps for this are quite simple, and it doesn’t need to take more than 5-10 minutes of your time every evening. The first step is realize that you are already in the presence of God, who unconditionally loves you. This, in my opinion, is often the hardest step for most people. Do not progress to the next step until you feel comfortable in God’s love.
The second step is to hold God by the hand, and together, go through your day. Where was God present? What do you have to be grateful for? What did you mess up? Be honest—God already knows and loves you despite it.
The third step is to place all of the day, good and bad, in God’s hands and to thank God for the opportunity to be in relationship with God for the day. You might, if necessary, apologize for the mistakes and ask for help where it is needed.
That’s it. Nothing difficult—just pure mindfulness. A growing awareness of God’s enduring presence in our lives will certainly exert its effect upon our will, and we will find that we begin to want to do the right thing.
May God bless you,