Be attentive, for this is crucial: What seems to be lacking in many of us is a searching and fearless self-examination of how we are living, how we ignore God, ways in which we deceive ourselves and others. We often examine ourselves superficially. Whether in the confessional, in discussions, and surely by examining my own life and failures, this truth becomes obvious: Most of us do not know how to examine our lives in real depth in order to root our sin and wrong-doing. We quickly glance at ourselves, and come with a few sentences to mutter, as if this serves as a real heartfelt self-examination. We toss in a few pennies of sin, and keep the big bucks of evil doing.
What can and should one do? Make a list of serious wrong-doing or wrongful attitudes, and ask yourself: How have I harmed others by these actions? What effects do these sins have in my life, in my character, in what I think, say, and do? How am I contributing to the sufferings of others by the way I live? Looking back over my life, what patterns emerge and recur? Am I willing to make amends to those whom I have harmed, cheated, deceived, used for my own pleasure? If God were to call me to account right now—and God ever seeks to bring us into the light of His righteous judgment and mercy—what would show up? What evil clings to me? What evils am I clinging to, am I afraid to renounce here and now?
Such a fearless inventory is and ought to be an important part of Lent.