Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

God’s Supremacy: an Examination of Conscience

By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 04, 2023

Revelation and Church teaching clarify God’s Commandments, which written on every heart (cf. Rom. 2:14-15). Our greatest life challenge is to recognize God’s supremacy as known through the Creed, Ten Commandments, and the sacraments.

Pride tempts us to place ourselves above God’s law. Adam and Eve did not commit a sin of weakness when tempted by the Devil. They expected to “be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5) Pride distorts human nature and wrecks families, communities, and nations. The sin also wreaks havoc on our understanding of religion. But a good Confession begins to restore the right relationship with God and others.

Dangerous forms of the sin of pride, packaged in ideologies, threaten entire civilizations. So-called gay marriage undermines families. The Black Lives Matter ideology (insofar as it excludes the lives of other races) impugns whites as intrinsically racist. Law enforcement agencies exaggerate the residual of white supremacism and threaten law-abiding citizens. The refusal to enforce immigration laws invites massive unlawful migration, human trafficking, and the movement of illegal drugs. Tribalism sparks international conflicts. But our effort to live the authentic Catholic Faith transcends every manifestation of pride.

Indeed the Catholic Church is not, strictly speaking, a “religious denomination.” Jesus enlists the Twelve Apostles to replace the twelve tribes of Israel to lift the Church above the dangers of tribalism and every ideology. The Catholic Faith is the Way (cf. “The Didache”). The Faith enlightens every receptive conscience that allows God’s grace to uplift and purify the law written on their hearts.

The Ten Commandments apply to all mankind. Everyone has an imperfect (and sin-wounded) inclination to worship, respect parents and authorities, avoid murder, reject promiscuity and adultery, respect private property, and speak the truth. Jesus commissions us to embody the Ten Commandments, as taught by the Church, to break the grip of pride. He affirms, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 5:14-16)

In humility, let’s repeatedly examine our conscience with this (necessarily incomplete) sampling and reignite the light.

  • Have I worshipped God, and God alone? When attending non-Catholic religious services as a matter of courtesy, have I denied my faith—consciously or unconsciously—by reciting prayers that contradict the faith? In thought, word, or deed, have I defected from the Catholic Faith and renounced my Baptismal promises? Have I blasphemed God by calling evil—such as abortion and homosexual behavior—good? Have I been sinfully lazy? Hyperactive, to the detriment of prayer and necessary relaxation)?
  • Have I viciously used the Lord’s name in vain?
  • Do I attend Mass on Sundays and holy days (unless excused by a reasonable and sufficient reason)? Have I received Communion while in the state of mortal sin?
  • Have I respected my parents? Lawful authorities? Employers? Have I obeyed just laws? Have I challenged superiors to the extent I am able when they dictate immoral behavior? Have I honored my patriotic duties such as my right to vote or otherwise justly influenced public life?
  • Have I been unjustly angry (there is no sin in just anger, properly controlled)? Have I been bitterly impatient? Rude? Viciously sarcastic? Murderous in my thoughts? Have I been hyper-critical of family members and others? Have I been intemperate with food and drink? Have I abused drugs or alcohol? Have I participated in abortion (or in vitro fertilization) by encouragement, cooperation, or commission? Have I voted for pro-abortion candidates over candidates who are more pro-life? Have I encouraged so-called transgender mutilation and lifestyles? Do I recognize that I am a minister of life, not the master of life in medical matters? Do I reject the practice of euthanasia? Have I disguised cooperation with killing by administering drugs that exceed reasonable palliative care? (Deliberate morphine overdoses have become increasingly common.) Have I unreasonably participated in extending the life of a loved one for unholy purposes (e.g., inheritance considerations and organ harvesting)?
  • Have I committed adultery in thought, word, or deed? Have I committed venial sins by failing to dismiss impure temptations, deliberate immodest glances, and brief impure thoughts? Have I committed mortal sins of sexual fantasies, pornography, self-abuse, contraception, fornication, homosexual behavior, prostitution, and formal adultery? Am I in an invalid marriage? Have I deliberately placed myself in the near occasion of sin?
  • Have I stolen anything, big or small? Have I given a full day’s work for a full day’s pay? Have I been possessive and greedy? Have I been dishonest or exploitive in business dealings? Have I returned the value of what I have stolen or (as permitted by Church teaching) given it to the poor?
  • Have my comments about others crossed over to sinful gossip? Have I dishonored righteous confidences? Have I eagerly desired to hear and repeat the natural secrets of others (unless justice requires revelation)? Have I said negative things about others that were true but didn’t need expression? Have I lied? Were the lies mortal sins? If I gossiped or made incorrect judgments, have I done my best to make up for my sins and mistakes? Have I made rash judgments (reaching conclusions without trying to collect sufficient evidence)? Have I been uncharitable in my use of correct judgments? Due to sloth or irrational fear, have I refused to make necessary corrections as justice requires?
  • Do I measure my behavior against the capital sins of pride, anger, lust, sloth, avarice, envy, and gluttony? Have I abided by the precepts of the Church? Do I have a healthy fear of God in preparation for my Day of Judgment?

Jesus says, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (Jn 8:32) A good Confession begins to break the slavery of pride, heals our fallen nature, and prepares us to meet Jesus, the Way of Life, at Mass, at Christmas, and at the end of time. The world needs to recognize the supremacy of God’s law through us.

Fr. Jerry Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in business and accounting, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master’s in moral theology. Father Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply engaged in authentic liturgical renewal. He writes regularly for a number of Catholic websites and magazines. See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.