I offer the following “Examination of Conscience” for those who find themselves spending time in the digital culture. Digital media is a means to an end. Whether it is the internet, texting, television, email, video communication, etc., digital media is neither good nor bad. It is given its content by human agency and it is that content that can be good, bad, or morally neutral. It is the act of the human person that is open to evaluation when it comes to the nature of sin. This “examination” helps us to evaluate those actions.
This “Examination of Conscience” is not my own work but that of Deacon Greg Kandra over at his blog, “The Deacon’s Bench.” He has given me permission to reprint it here. It can be used by way of preparation for the celebration of the Sacrament of Confession and Reconciliation, as part of one’s daily Examen, or as part of an occasional inventory of one’s Christian presence within the digital culture. I have certainly found it helpful for all three.
I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange Gods before me. Have I treated people, events or things as more important than God? Have I elevated the Internet to a deity? Is commenting on Facebook, Twitter, or blogs supplanting my prayer life?
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Have my words, actively or passively put down God, the Church or people? Have I inflicted wounds on the Body of Christ by showing disrespect, dissent or disdain? Have I mocked online the leadership of the Church—whether it’s my pope, my bishop or my pastor?
Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day. Do I go to Mass when I should? Do I avoid work that impedes worship to God? Do I spend too much time on Sunday surfing the Internet and chat rooms and forums, when I could be spending time with my family or with God?
Honor your father and your mother. Do I show my parents due respect? Do I maintain good communication with my parents? Do I criticize them to others, or online?
You shall not kill. Have I harmed another through physical, verbal or emotional means, including gossip? Have I destroyed another’s reputation online? Have I used comments to mock, disrespect, slander or attack? Have I gleefully ridiculed another person’s failings online and enjoyed their setbacks? Have I resorted to petty name-calling to score points or make another person feel bad? Have I robbed another of basic human dignity online?
You shall not commit adultery. Have I respected the physical and sexual dignity of others and of myself? Have I used the Internet to visit porn sites or engage in sinful conversations about sex?
You shall not steal. Have I taken or wasted time or resources that belonged to another? Have I spent valuable time at my job on the Internet when I should have been working?
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Have I gossiped, spread lies or embellished stories at the expense of another? Have I posted online something I suspect may not be true?
You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse. Have I honored my spouse with my full affection and exclusive love? Have I made my life online, and the time I spend there, more important than my life with my husband or wife?
You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods. Am I content with my own means and needs, or do I compare myself to others unnecessarily? Do I surf online shopping sites, wishing I could buy things I don’t need and being jealous or resentful of others?