“I accuse myself of never having accused myself of religious ignorance, of not even offering any excuse therefor, so normal does such an omission seem.
“I accuse myself of having taken no interest whatever in Christian doctrine, upon the pretext of respecting the more its mysteries and sacred character.
“I accuse myself of not having loved God with my mind, and of having unconsciously reputed Him, because to affect no interest in His life and revelation is tantamount to a genuine atheism.
“I accuse myself of a strong inclination to think, without precisely admitting it, that religious knowledge is very nearly as boring as t is useless, and that it is not intended for people of the world.
“I accuse myself of not having in my house either the Bible or the New Testament; of never having read….the Gospels through or any Life of Our Lord.
“I accuse myself of having drifted into a worldly accommodation which enables the most repeated practices, in all sincerity, of a sensitive piety to be combined with an elegantly pagan state of mind and conception of life.
“I accuse myself of having laid up my talents in a napkin, like the servant in the parable, thinking them useless in regard to salvation, and dangerous to humility and discipline.”
(From My Sins of Omission by Jacques Debout, a brilliant book, crowned by the French Academy, which all educated people should read—and possess.)
“When we go to the cinema and see a picture about empty-headed people in luxurious surroundings, do we say, ‘What drivel!’, or do we sit in a misty dream, wishing we could give up our daily work and marry into surroundings like that?”
(From The Other Six Deadly Sins, by Dorothy L. Sayers, Methuen, a searching and brilliant analysis of the fundamental evils of modern life.)
Have I tried to make my ideas and outlook Christian?
What attempt have I made to understand and assimilate my Faith—a necessary preliminary to practising it?
What have I done to reintroduce Christian ideas into the world?
I may not be able to do much, but surely I could do something.
How often have I worshipped, praised and thanked God?
These are DUTIES, habitual neglect of which shows a stunted religious mind and probably involves some sin.
Have I allowed myself to be engrossed by human affairs?
Has my prayer almost entirely consisted of petitions for worldly favours, such as a better job or success in an examination; in other words, have I treated God as a useful business patron and nothing more?
Have I treated religion simply as a fire-insurance against hell fire; or served God simply because I feared I should have no luck otherwise?
Have I ever solicited for my soul light and love?
Have I ever made a really serious and sustained attempt to love God?
Have I “implored grace only as a means of salvation and not so as to be beautiful with the beauty of grace through living the life of grace”?
Have I “considered grace only as a lightning conductor and not as a nuptial garment, as a guarantee and not a value”?
Have I “confused my spiritual life by a complicated ledger account of indulgenced prayers and practices”, forgetting that “while formulas and practices are the symbol of indulgences, interior disposition is the cause”?
Have I treated prayer as an excellent substitute for personal effort, eg. neglecting study and then staking all on a fervid novena before the examination in an attempt to bribe God by lighting lots of candles?
Has my devotion been an excellent labour?saving device, dispensing me, because of what I am, from the inconvenience and burden—and distraction!—of attending to my social, civic and national DUTIES?
Have I done more than my bit to make piety contemptible?
Has my prayer been a veiled dictation to God or an attempt to barter with Him on a quid pro quo basis, and not the humble suppliance of a universal debtor?
Has my prayer been: “Not Thy will but mine be done, because I’ve had the decency to ask Thee to do it”?
When my prayer has apparently not been answered, have I felt a grudge against God?
Have I expected a slot?machine answer to prayer and refused to pray with perseverance?
Have I neglected prayers for the dead? have I thus abandoned in their agony those I love best?
Have I failed to realize that a Catholic owes it to his God, to his Church, to his time and to himself, to be of some value intellectually?
Have I realized that a man is truly human only if he uses his mind?
Have I made no attempt to develop my personality, prudently, refrained from having any opinions of my own not culled from fashionable periodicals?
Have I attempted to realize my personal dignity as a child of God and to cultivate appreciation of the beautiful in nature, literature, art or music?
Fear of doing wrong is no excuse for doing nothing, as the fate of the man who buried his talent proves. Yet have I not done precisely this; fearing to study my Faith, lest I should have doubts; fearing to use my mind, lest I should become proud; fearing reverent sex instruction, lest I should abuse it; fearing even my God-given ordinary duties, lest they should become a distraction?