An Examination of Conscience for Seasons of Singleness
Are you struggling with your seasons of singleness?
Many of us find ourselves single at various stages of life. Perhaps you’ve recently gone through a divorce. Maybe you know God is calling you to a vocation of marriage, but you haven’t met someone yet to discern that vocation with.
Whatever the circumstances surrounding your single status, Christ desires to bring you to a place of joy and peace. But sin gets in the way of our relationship with him. If you’re desiring an intimate friendship with the Lord, receiving the grace from the sacrament of confession is a great place to start healing.
Unique struggles for Catholic singles
Sin is a universal human struggle. Regardless of your vocation or season of life right now, you probably struggle with a lot of the same vices that plague many. Married men, women, and religious all wrestle against pride, selfishness, and jealously, after all.
But a season of singleness also brings with it unique struggles. It may be easier to fall into depression, despair, and anxiety about the future. When you look around and see friends and family settling into their vocations, envy can creep into your life.
If you’ve found yourself single again after a divorce, bitterness and resentment could be daily struggles. Forgiveness may be difficult especially if your story includes abuse and trauma.
Single Catholics also face sexual temptation in a world that encourages impurity of body and mind.
Help in time of struggle
While you may be facing temptation, God doesn’t leave you to do battle against the devil alone. Instead, he equips you with the sacrament of confession.
Don’t let loneliness overwhelm you, or allow despair to cloud your vision. God has a plan for your life and you can return to right relationship with him through reconciliation. “The whole power of the sacrament of penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship,” the Catechism reads.
If it’s been a while since you were in line for confession, or you’re not quite sure how to prepare to receive the sacrament, don’t worry. Here are some questions to prepare you for receiving the forgiveness of God through the sacraments of confession.
Your relationship with God
“Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with him,” the Catechism instructs. While our sins affect our relationship with ourselves and others, at their root, sin harms our relationship with God. When preparing for confession, ask yourself the following questions to see where you’ve hurt your own relationship with the Lord.
- Have I gone to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation?
- While at Mass, do I participate fully or do I allow distractions to keep me from deepening my relationship with God?
- Do I dedicate time daily to converse with God in prayer, both talking and listening during our conversation together?
- Have I fully surrendered my life plans over to God, trusting that he will provide?
- Has time with Scripture fallen off of my daily schedule?
- Have I struggled with recognizing my need for the Lord, instead thinking that I have everything under control?
- Do I give back to the Lord generously with my time, talent, and financial treasures?
- Do I doubt that the Lord has plans for my life? Have I lost hope concerning my vocational discernment?
- Do I resent the work of God in my life because it doesn’t match my own timeline?
- Have I not been honest in prayer with the Lord?
Your relationship with others
Sin not only hurts our relationship with God, it also harms our interactions and relationship with God’s children. Not only is confession a sacrament that restores our relationship with God, it also reconciles us with the Church and her members.
“During his public life, Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them,” the Catechism says. “A remarkable sign of this fact is that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the People of God.”
Where has sin damaged your relationship with neighbors, friends, and family? Ask yourself these questions before returning to the sacrament of confession.
- Have I lied to or deceived others in my life?
- Have I intentionally rebelled against those in authority over me?
- When others hurt me, have I refused forgiveness or harbored grudges?
- In the past, have I felt sorry for myself in light of other’s life decisions and allowed myself to wallow in self-pity?
- Have I used others mentally or physically for my own satisfaction?
- Do I rejoice with others over good news, or do I find myself overcome with envy and jealously?
Your relationship with society
Our individual relationships with others are harmed by sin. But another relationship that suffers in the aftermath of sin is our relationship with society as a whole.
Christ calls us to live in a way that witnesses his glory on this earth. Yet if your heart and soul are clouded by sin, this can be hard to do. Ask yourself these questions about your relationship with society before receiving the sacrament of confession.
- Is my life a witness to the glory of God, or would others be surprised to find out I’m Catholic?
- Does the life of Christ influence my opinions and thoughts on politics and social issues?
- Would my interactions with the poor and needy of society reveal a person following the Lord?
- Have I respected governing authorities and paid taxes and dues?
- Do I foster a divisive environment with the way I discuss politics?
- Have I interacted with others in a prejudice way because of their race, religion, or social status in society?
Your relationship with yourself
The one last area to look at when examining your conscience before confession is your relationship with yourself.
As a Catholic single, it can be easy to fall into the trap of self-deprecation. If you haven’t been on a date in a while, you may begin to think you are unlovable. If divorce is part of your story, you may wonder if you are a failure. Allow the grace of the sacrament of confession to heal your relationship with yourself, too. Here are some questions to think about before returning to confession.
- Have I gotten drunk in an attempt to escape my current state of life?
- Did I give into the temptation to look at pornography or masturbate?
- Have I been patient with myself and my story, or have I beaten myself up for this season of singleness?
- Does the way I talk about myself either in interior conversation or with others reflect my dignity as a child of God?
- When my conscience told me to avoid something, did I ignore it and continue along a path of sin anyway?
Accepting Christ’s words of healing and absolution in confession
Do you want to return to right relationship with Christ, his children, the Church, and yourself? The sacrament of confession is a great place to start!
Don’t know where to go? Check out this website, which lists local times for confession.
If you need extra encouragement, Saint Francis de Sales urges you to return to confession and cleanse your soul from sin. “Go to your confessor; open your heart to him; display to him all the recesses of your soul; take the advice that he will give you with the utmost humility and simplicity,” he writes. “For God, who has an infinite love for obedience, frequently renders profitable the counsels we take from others, but especially from those who are the guides of our souls.”
Chloe Langr is a very short stay-at-home-wife, whose growth has probably been stunted by the inhumane amounts of coffee she regularly consumes. When she is not buried in a growing stack of books, she can be found spending time with her husband, geeking out over Theology of the Body, or podcasting. You can find more about her on her blog "Old Fashioned Girl."