A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Making the Grade

Posted on: June 27, 2013

As a child, I looked forward to and dreaded receiving report cards: I appreciated my teachers’ positive comments but always feared my grades wouldn’t be what I hoped.

As a parent, I also have mixed feelings about report card day: I hope that my son’s grades will show improvement where it was needed and worry that they won’t.

Yesterday was report card day. The main thing I noticed was that my son’s teachers would like him to improve his work habits so that he can achieve his full potential.

This morning, I was thinking about how common report cards are in our society: workplace performance reviews, ratings of the financial situation of companies and countries, reviews of politicians’ achievements during their time in office, restaurant inspections that result in a passing or failing grade, critiques of the entertainment value of new movies or CDs. But there are no report cards to tell us how we’re doing as Christians.

If we were to assess ourselves, would we find ourselves earning a “Good,” “Satisfactory” or “Needs Improvement” for the quality of our prayer life; the love we show toward others; our obedience to God’s will; or the wise use of our talents, spiritual gifts, and resources? Are we “progressing well”?

Thankfully, we aren’t graded in this way. We know the bar is set high—and, being human, an A+ is far out of our reach. But we also know we have a merciful and loving God who wants us to strive to be more like Christ and come to him for forgiveness and reconciliation when we know we’ve failed.

When I was going through RCIA, I knew I would see the priest for reconciliation before I was received into the Church. Doing some research to learn more about reconciliation, I came across information on how to do an examination of conscience on a daily basis and before going to confession.

BeginningCatholic.com offers advice on conducting a daily examination of conscience. We think about our day—the ways God has blessed us, as well as our faults—and we ask God for his forgiveness and for his help in doing better the next day. More information on daily examinations of conscience is provided at Catholic.net.

BeginningCatholic.com also features “A Detailed Catholic Examination of Conscience” we can use before reconciliation. Following the Ten Commandments (see ss. 2084 to 2557 in the Catechism) and the precepts of the Church (see ss. 2041 to 2043 in the Catechism), this examination can help us reflect on our behaviour and determine how we can improve.

May we use such times of prayer and reflection to help us (as the site suggests) “frame the day in prayer” and “turn to God in the fabric of everyday life.”

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1 Response to "Making the Grade"

You’re right, this “report card” is the most important of all. It’s ramifications are eternal!

Comments are closed.

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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