Holy Ghost Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church in America (OCA)
210 Maplewood Avenue, Ambridge, PA 15003



Decorum in God’s House

(...some annual reminders from Fr. Bill as we begin summer)

*          Out of respect for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His Mother the Theotokos, the Holy Saints, the Holy Orthodox Church, and those worshiping around us, suitable and modest attire and behavior are required of all guests and members who wish to worship God in the ancient Orthodox Christian manner. This means, minimally, shorts are not proper anywhere in the church for men or women above 12 years of age. All Altar servers, especially, are also included in this ban. Shorts are not proper attire to serve the Lord in the Holy Sanctuary – full-length pants are necessary. Likewise, shoes and socks are also required in the Altar … no sandals with bare feet, etc.) Women’s skirts should be modest in shortness; no sleeveless shirts or halters; no bare midriffs; no scandalous “plunging necklines.” No beach, sports, or athletic gear, flip-flips, or similar “overly casual” attire.

 

*          No Tee-shirts/sweatshirts with slogans, logos, pictures, or mottos. Shirts and blouses should be modestly buttoned. Men, please remove caps or other head-covers.

 

*          Please consider all of the church property (including the Youth Center) to be a no smoking zone.

 

*          Food and drink is not permitted in the nave of the church at any time. Likewise, chewing gum/candy is prohibited. (Exception: the feeding of snacks to young children should be very limited in scope and eliminated as soon as possible as the child matures. Please make every effort to clean up the “residue” when the service is completed.)

 

*          Lip stick, lip balm, etc. should be blotted before venerating icons or the Holy Cross as well as before receiving Holy Communion.

 

*          It is not necessary to venerate the tetrapod icon after having just received Holy Communion.

 

*          Exiting the church during the divine services should be done only in the event of emergencies. If for any reason you must leave at any time, please exit/return quietly as you strive not to disturb those around you. This should be kept to a minimum. (Parents with children are expected to minimize the usage of the restrooms/fountain by children as much as possible.) The basement audio/video transmission is only for those parents with “rambunctious” young children or for adults who are ill. The basement is not a “permanent alternative” to standing in the church nave with the other believers as we face the Holy Altar. The aisles and stairways should be kept clear so people can move safely and quickly without hindrance.

 

*          You are encouraged to study the Bible, read the pre-Liturgy prayers, read the service hand-out sheets, or silently meditate before the service while you minimize conversations. (Please whisper if you must have a brief conversation - including while in the vestibule area.) Except for the parish officers, please do not “linger” in the vestibule.

 

*          Turn off cell phones and other electronic devices off before you enter the church.

 

*          Believers are encouraged to come to church well before the scheduled service starting time. (This means you are, in effect, already late for Liturgy if the Third Hour is already being chanted when you enter the church!)

 

*          Proper Orthodox etiquette is to always come forward to venerate the various icons and light a candle offering when entering the church. It is not “good manners” to merely go to your place in the church without doing these things first. Similarly, it is “rude” to make a habit of leaving the church before venerating the Holy Cross. Please light personal candles prior to the start of a service to avoid distraction to others during worship.

 

*          Altar servers should make every effort to arrive and enter the Altar prior to the start of the service. They are reminded to properly venerate the Holy Altar (Prestol).

 

*          Reception of the Holy Eucharist is reserved for those baptized Orthodox Christians who have prepared themselves by conducting a proper Eucharistic fast, prayer, and participation in Holy Confession according to the established guidelines set by the parish priest. (Receiving Communion is a privilege, not an “automatic right.”)

 

Please remember that the Church is an “oasis of like-minded people” who come together to BE the “Body of Christ,” not just to “attend church” as disconnected worshipers. Let us be courteous! Let us be patient! Let us be merciful as we would have the Lord Jesus be courteous, patient, and merciful with us! Let us remember that we are mutually accountable to each other as well as to God for our actions and words as believers in Christ!

 


Second Sunday of Great Lent - St. Gregory Palamas

(An explanation by: Fr. Nicholas Belcher)

            On the second Sunday of Lent, the Holy Orthodox celebrates the memory of Saint Gregory Palamas, the Archbishop of Thessalonica, who struggled valiantly to uphold the patristic teaching that God's energies are uncreated against those who held that God's grace is a created intermediary. While the distinction between uncreated energies and created grace may sound like an arcane debate between religious scholars, this dispute greatly disturbed the life of the Church and required a series of six councils in Constantinople over the course ten years to finally proclaim the Orthodox teaching. In our age of theological relativism, this type of vociferous debate over wording seems nothing short of a waste of time causing unneeded division, but upon reflecting on these issues, we see the importance of St. Gregory's principled stand and ultimate triumph.

 

            St. Gregory was born into a noble and saintly family in Constantinople, and his father was a dignitary in the emperor's court. When his father died, the emperor took an interest in his upbringing and education, and St. Gregory excelled in all his studies. Although the emperor had hoped that he would devote himself to a life of government service, St. Gregory decided to depart from the world for a life of prayer and asceticism on Mount Athos. He gave himself over a life of hesychasm (stillness, silence) and achieved a great number of spiritual gifts to coincide with his intellectual ones.

 

            The crisis came, ironically, when St. Gregory read the work of an Orthodox theologian, Barlaam, criticizing the western interpolation of the filioque into the Creed of Faith. Normally, one would not think that an Orthodox monastic father would take issue with an Orthodox theologian offering a sharp critique of something the Christian East had so decisively rejected, but St. Gregory saw something very dangerous in the reasoning used by Barlaam to attack it. Barlaam's work emphasized the complete unknowability of God to the extent that he argued no human being could know whether the Holy Spirit could proceed from the Son. Therefore, he wrote the western teachers were arrogant to theologize about the inner relations between the persons of the Trinity and were wrong to add the double procession of the Spirit into the Creed. St. Gregory agreed that God was unknowable in His essence and that the westerners were wrong about the filioque, but he also believed that Barlaam's work went too far in describing God as so completely inaccessible to His creation.

 

            St. Gregory began to write works that expressed the teaching of the Fathers that God is unknowable in His essence, yet we know Him in His energies. The question at the heart of the matter was this: When human beings experience God – Moses in the cloud on Mount Sinai or the apostles beholding the vision of Light on Mount Tabor, for example – is that experience God or is God creating something for them to experience that is like Him? For Barlaam, human beings cannot directly experience the unknowable God; therefore, the cloud on Mount Sinai and the light of Mount Tabor were created intermediaries between God and Moses, God and the apostles. Drawing on his own personal spiritual life and the witness of countless holy Fathers, St. Gregory could not agree to this.

 

            Those experiences of God, while not experiences of God's essence, were experiences of His energies – which must be understood as uncreated. St. Gregory summed up the issue with Barlaam's vision thus:

 

If the God preached by Barlaam is not communicable through His uncreated energies, but is a God distant and incommunicable, somewhere above the sky, people will reject Him and will need another God.

           

 

 

            In other words, man longs for communion with his Creator. In the season of Lent, we reflect on Adam and Eve losing that perfect communion with God they enjoyed in Paradise, and we acutely feel that desire for the restoration of that relationship with Him. We fast, pray, participate in divine

services, partake of the Mysteries, reconcile with our neighbors, and repent of our sins to be united with God, not to experience something God creates to make us feel as though we are united to God.

We desire the God who revealed Himself in His Son – the Son Who united His divinity to our humanity, prayed in the Garden of Eden that we may be one with God as He is one with His Father, willing suffered death on Cross, destroyed the gates of Hades and rose from the dead, sent the Spirit on His disciples at Pentecost to establish His Church, and feeds us with His very Body and Blood. This is the God revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and the One Who revealed Himself throughout history to His Saints.

 

            To be clear, St. Gregory did uphold that we cannot know God in His essence or nature. To describe how we can understand participating in God's energies but not His essence, he offered the example of the sun:

 

Just as the sun, in that without diminution it bestows a measure of warmth and light upon those who participate, possesses these activities as normal and essential energies, so too the divine communications, in that without diminution they inhere in the one who bestows participation, are natural and essential energies of God, and therefore are also uncreated.

 

            We cannot grab hold of the sun, but we do experience the light and warmth that radiates from it. While any such example comparing God to created things like the sun (or the Trinity as a clover) are not perfect, St. Gregory taught that God's sanctifying power, grace, and energies are uncreated and pour out from God onto to those who seek to know Him through the life of the Church. In this way, we do know Him, not something He creates.

 

            After the series of councils in Constantinople, and after a period of suffering imprisonment, St. Gregory and his teaching were victorious. In an interesting side note, the arrogant theologian, Barlaam, began the whole dispute by attacking the western theologians, and when his teaching was refuted, he ended up becoming a cardinal in the Roman church! This episode shows us that merely studying the theology of the Fathers merely as scholars, without the illumination that God grants to those living the theology in prayer and asceticism, can lead us to delusion and error.

 

            In the Triumph of Orthodoxy celebrated last week, there were those who felt the Uncircumscribed God could not be portrayed with paint and brushes. The Church reaffirmed that the Son and Word of God truly became Man. We paint His Image precisely because He became circumscribed in the flesh through His Incarnation. Because of His uniting His divinity to our humanity, the created world can become holy. One can argue that the iconoclasts also wanted to put God in His Heaven and deny that He has fully united Himself to us.

 

            We celebrate the memory of St. Gregory Palamas as a second Triumph of Orthodoxy. We again reaffirm the God Who truly took flesh to dwell among us and share with us His divine life. We truly become – as St. Peter wrote in his second epistle – "partakers of divine nature." Let us celebrate this feast with joy and increased spiritual labors the remainder of this Lenten season that we may come to know the unknowable God Who wills to reveal Himself to us.

 





Pastoral Thoughts - What Makes a Confession a “Good” Confession

 

I was asked in an email, “As a priest, how do I define a Confession as being a “good confession?” A good place to start is to remember that this Holy Mystery was given us by Jesus Christ Himself. Through it, we sinners are able to meet the Lord in faith, receive His forgiveness in a tangible way, and begin our lives anew in His peace. In Holy Confession, the sins we commit after our Baptism are forgiven - literally, “forgotten” by God. We are restored to the grace of God that none of us deserve, yet are offered by our Savior through His Body, the Church. The power to forgive sins (i.e. “missing the mark”) belongs to God; as the Son of God, Jesus has that power. Jesus then gave that power to forgive sins to His apostles - - as He appeared to them following His Resurrection, He breathed on them saying,

“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven.” (Jn. 20:21-23)

 

The Mystery of Holy Confession (i.e. Penance) has been called a “Second Baptism” by the Ancient Holy Fathers of the Church - - it washes away our sins; it gives us God’s grace; it enables our souls to become pure and holy as they were supposed to be when God created us in His likeness and image. The Bible is filled with the hope of forgiveness - - the story of the Prodigal Son is the example per excellence. The story of the Publican and the Pharisee is another - - both of which are chanted liturgically annually as we prepare ourselves for Great Lent - the ultimate season of repentance in advance of celebrating Holy Pascha. In James (5:13-16), the Apostle writes: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” I John (2) reads, in part: “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him (i.e. God) a liar, and His word is not in us.”

 

Practically speaking then, how do we put this into

practice personally for a “successful Confession?”

+          First, a penitent should examine themselves honestly and without shame prior to coming to the confessional. Think about the sins you’ve done; think about the things you should have done as commanded by Christ but haven’t, since your last Confession. Think about the commandments of God and the teachings of the Holy Scripture and the Church - - have you been remiss in living these practically? Also - do not approach the confessional hurriedly!

 

+          Second, the penitent must truly be sorry for their sins. It’s important to feel sorrow in your heart for these things - for without this humility, you are cut off from God’s loving embrace.

 

+          Third, the penitent must promise God to try to do better in daily life. This means a commitment to the best of our ability to keep away from sin as best as we can. This can only be accomplished by turning ourselves over to God daily and seeking His presence wherever we go; no matter what we’re doing.

 

+          Fourth, we must openly confess our sins. This means unashamedly telling our sins - out loud - to our Father Confessor. Periodic confession is important because it forces us to evaluate ourselves honestly and not trust ourselves to “self-delusion” or the promptings of the devil, our ancient enemy. We cannot hide any sin, we can’t allow our pride to make us feel ashamed, because the Father Confessor stands as God’s servant to witness to our repentance and to help us feel joy in our sorrow for that sinfulness. Have you noticed recently the picture & saying I put in the confessional? “Be ashamed when you sin - not when you repent.” In other words, the Father Confessor is the witness to our sorrow - he represents the entire community of faith.

 

Following Confession, you are encouraged to light a candle as an offering to Christ, and either say the “Our Father” standing before that lit flame or light the candle and then return to a pew, kneeling down, and saying those words.

 

So, rather than let our spiritual problems build up to serious size, Holy Confession is an excellent opportunity to work out those problems. We need to have a healthy soul just as much we need to exercise our bodies to keep them healthy - confession is a “spiritual check-up.” The more we come to (Private) Confession successfully, the more we come to feel Christ’s love - and - it prepares us to receive “The Fire of the Holy Spirit” in the Holy Eucharist - the very Body and Blood of the All-Pure Christ - and NONE of us should DARE to receive it UN-worthily or carelessly to avoid condemnation and instead receive healing.

 

Please contact me should have any questions about this critical Holy Mystery! See you soon?!

- Fr. Bill


Mystery of Holy Confession

PREPARATION GUIDE FOR CONFESSION

 

 

YOU AND GOD

 

            Do you believe in God, the Holy Trinity, in the Divinity of Christ and the Holy Trinity?  Do you respect the Holy Virgin Mary, the Saints and the Angels?  Do you believe in the Church and Her Mysteries?  Do you believe that Heaven and Hell exist?

            Do you entrust yourself always, and especially in the difficult times of your life, to the care of God?  Or do you despair and show a lack of faith?

            Perhaps in your problems, afflictions, sicknesses and trials of life you whine/moan against God and lose your faith and confidence?

            Do you believe in mediums, card fortune telling, astrologists, magicians, palm reading, fortune-telling, coffee-cup reading, voodoo, superstition or luck?

            Do you do your prayer morning and night and at the table?  Are you embarrassed to do your cross in front of other people, e.g., in a restaurant or outside of the Church?  Do you make your cross properly and with reverence?

            Do you read the Holy Bible and other Orthodox spiritual books daily?

            Do you go to Church on Sundays and on the big feast days of the Church?

            Do you follow the Divine Liturgy carefully from the start till the end or do you go late and leave before the end?  Do you let you mind wander in Church?

            At Church do you go dressed in a proper and dignified way?  Are you careful not to talk or laugh or cause distraction to others?

            Do you perhaps prevent or restrict or discourage your spouse or children or friends from going to Church?

            Do you commune regularly, with proper preparation and prayers and confession?

            Do you give oaths without need or lie?  Do you perhaps not fulfill your oaths, vows or promises?

            Do you blaspheme (degrade) the name of God, the Virgin Mary, and our Saints by speaking irreverently of them?

            Do you fast on Wednesday and Friday and the Lenten periods of the year?

            Do you treat religious books and items with proper respect and reverence?

 

YOU AND OTHERS

 

Do you have hatred and ill-feelings against someone who did you wrong or insulted and abused you in their anger?

Are you suspicious and without reason suspect that everyone talks about you, that they don’t like you or want you or love you?

Do you worry about what others think of you?

Do you judge others, setting yourself up as the example of righteousness, when in fact you are a sinner?

Are you jealous and upset about the progress, the fortune, the beauty and the possessions of others?

Are you unmoved by the misfortune and needs of your fellow men?

In transactions with your partners, co-workers and clients, are you honest and forthright?

Do you criticize or slander your fellowman?

Are you ironic and patronizing towards the believers, those who fast and endeavor to live a Christian life, or those that have some physical or material or mental problems?

Although you heard some information or criticism against someone, did you pass it on and harm the reputation and respect of your fellow man?

Have you gossiped?

Did you criticize the conduct, actions, faults and mistakes of another when they were not present, even if you said the truth?  Have you ever cruelly criticized the clergy?  Do you gossip about and criticize the personal lives of others?  Did you listen to someone blaspheming God or someone else and did not protest?

Do you curse anyone who did you harm, or yourself in difficult moments of your life, or the hour and time you were born?

Did you send others “to the Devil” or do you give them rude hand gestures?

Do you respect your parents?  Do you look after them?  Do you put up with their elderly weakness?  Do you help them with their bodily and spiritual needs?  Are you mindful of their spiritual needs by ensuring they go to Church and worthily partake of Holy Communion?  Have you cruelly abandoned them?

Have you misguided you parents to cause harm to others in your family?

Perhaps in your anger did you hit anyone with your hands or hurt them with your words?

Do you perform your job or occupation properly and with a good conscience?  Or are you unfair to others?

Do you steal?  Perhaps you encouraged or helped another to steal, or agreed to cover up a thief, bought or accepted known stolen goods?

Are you ungrateful towards God and generally towards you helpers and beneficiaries?  Do you grumble and murmur against them?

Do you keep company with bad and sinful people or associates?  Have you pushed anyone, with words or with your example, into sin?

Have you committed forgery?  Have you embezzled or defrauded the public?  Have you borrowed money and other possessions and haven’t returned or repaid them?

Have you ever committed murder, in any way?

Do you entangle yourself in the life of others or in their work, or their families and become the cause of strife, quarrels and disturbances?

Do you have mercy and compassion on the poor, on the orphans, on the elderly, on the needy families that you know?

Have you lied or added or subtracted from the truth?  Do you flatter others to get your way?

Have you ever sent anonymous or cruel correspondance?

 

YOURSELF

 

            Are you a slave to materialism and worldly blessings?

            Are you stingy, or a lover of money?

            Are you greedy?

            Are you wasteful?  (with money, time, food, goods, etc.) Whatever you have that is left over belongs to the poor.  Do you have too much love towards pets and waste money on them, while people die of starvation?

            Do you have conceit and arrogance?  Do you talk back to your elders and superiors?

            Do you like to show off with your clothes, your wealth, your fortunes and the achievements of your children or yourself?

            Do you seek attention and glory from people?  Do you wear perfume and makeup and change the look your creator gave you?  Are you ashamed of the way God made you to be?  Are you vain?

            Do you accept compliments and praise from others gladly and like to be told that no one exists as good as you?

            Do you get upset when others show up your faults and do you get offended when others examine you and when your seniors make comments about you?  Do you get angry?

            Are you perhaps stubborn, high-minded, egotistical, proud or cowardly?

            Do you gamble or play cards, and do other meaningless activities in order to “kill time?”

            Do you waste time watching too much television?

            Have sexual sins polluted your body, mind or soul?  (fornication, masturbation, prostitution, homosexuality, or other forms of sexual perversions)

            Do you watch dirty shows on television or at the cinema?

            Do you read pornographic, immoral books or magazines?

            Have you ever considered committing suicide?

            Are you a slave to your belly (gluttony)?

            Are you lazy, careless, and negligent?  Do you not help when you can?

            Do you say words that are improper, immoral, and dirty?  Do you swear, for the sake of humor or to insult or humiliate others?

            Do you have a spirit of self-denial?  Or are you a total slave to your own will?

            Do you expel from your mind bad or sly or tempting thoughts that come to pollute your heart?

            Do you take care that your eyes don’t gaze or stare at provocative pictures or persons?

            Are you careful what your ears hear?  Do you like to hear sinful music or talk?

            Do you dress immorally?  Do you scandalize others with your appearance?  Do you dress provocatively?

            Do you dress appropriately for Church?

            Have you appeared naked or partially dressed in public places?

            Do you dance sinful dances?  Do you sing or listen to sinful or immoral songs?  Do you frequent parties, discos, clubs or bars?  Do you celebrate sinful worldly festivals (Mardi Gras, gay parades, etc?)

            Are you a drunkard?

            Do you smoke or use any illegal drugs?

            Do you talk excessively and about meaningless things?

 

FAMILIES (for spouses)

 

            Do you remain faithful to your spouse?

            Do you embarrass or fault your spouse publicly or privately?

            Do you not endure the weakness of the other?  Do you show harshness?

            Do you or your spouse follow the latest fashions in society and all that is opposed to the law of God?  Are you obsessed with popularity, fashion and the things of this world?

            Do you consider the struggle the other has outside and inside the home, so that you both help each other in the struggle, the one helping the other both bodily and spiritually?

            As a spouse have you had excessive marital demands and degraded your relationship?  Do you abstain from marital (sexual) relations as part of the fast called for on all the fasting days and before Holy Communion?

            Do you prevent your spouse from going to Church, spiritual gatherings, or talks?

            Do you bring up your children in the instruction and council of Christ?  Do you perhaps only concern yourself (or even primarily) with their intellectual and physical growth, and not with the nature of their character?

            Do you direct them to Church, Confession, and regular Holy Communion (with preparation)?  Do you teach them the Holy Virtues with word and example?  Have you taught them to pray morning and evening and at meals, and to pray with reverence and attention?

            Are you careful of the things they read?  Do you buy books and periodicals of Orthodox spiritual subjects for them to read and learn from?

            Do you watch whom they keep company with and who are their friends?

            Do you lead them to sinful shows and entertainment, or do you let them watch television unsupervised?

            Do you teach them humility and meekness?

            Do you curse them when they upset you?

            Have you committed abortion or do you prevent yourself from having children?

            Have you been unfair or unjust to you children?

            Do you accept the responsibility of raising and educating your children?

            Do you scorn them or reprimand them with improper language?

            Does each of you love and respect the parents of the other?  Do the parents or relatives get too involved in your family and cause disagreements or disputes?

            Do you interfere in your children’s families?

            Have you ever considered divorcing your spouse?

            Do you allow your children to become fanatical about sports or other activities and even to miss Church is order to do them?

            Are you fair and just with your family, considering and respecting their views and wishes, or do you behave like a dictator?

 

FROM THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

 

  1. “I am the Lord thy God; Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me.”—Have I believed in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Have I failed to trust in God and His mercy? Have I complained against God in adversity? Have I been thankful for God’s blessings? Have I doubted the Christian faith and the teachings of the Church? Have I tried to serve God and keep His commandments? Have I given way to superstition? Have I frequented the religious gathers of heretics and schismatics? Have I neglected my duties to God through fear of ridicule or persecution? Have I failed to pray to God faithfully? Have I failed to put myself before God?

 

  1. “Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image.”—Have I made an idol of any person or thing? Have I given to anyone or anything the worship that is due God alone? Have I set before myself the holy life of Jesus and tried to imitate Him? Have I read the Holy Scriptures regularly? Have I been irreverent during Church Services, let my attention wander, or been insincere? Have I neglected to receive Holy Communion regularly or without due preparation?

 

III.  “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”—Have I profaned the holy name of God in any way? Have I cursed anyone or anything, or sworn a false oath? Have I failed to give proper reverence to holy persons and things? Have I had due respect for the clergy of the Church or hindered them in performing God’s work? Have I broken any solemn vow or promise? Have I entered into any unlawful contract or made an unlawful promise?

 

  1. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”—Have I stayed away from Church on Sundays or prevented others from going? Have I done unnecessary work on Sunday? Have I spent the day in unwholesome fashion or profaned it by improper conduct? If I could not go to Church because of illness or other grave cause, have I prayed at home? Have I caused anyone else to profane the Lord’s Day? Have I kept the Fasts and Festivals prescribed by the Church?

 

  1. “Honor thy father and mother.”—Have I respected my parents and been obedient to them? Have I been guilty of deception, or caused them pain by my words or actions? Have I neglected them or failed to help them? Have I done my duty towards my family? Have I been lacking in love or kindness towards my spouse, or harmed them in any way? Have I set my children a good example and tried to bring them up properly? Have I corrected their faults with patience and not with anger? Have I over-indulged or spoiled them? Have I neglected my godchildren and failed in my obligations towards them? Have I worked for my employers honestly and diligently? Have I treated fairly all those who have worked for me? Have I honored God as my Heavenly Father by treating others as my brothers, and have I honored the Church as my spiritual Mother by honoring and practicing my faith in accordance with her teachings?

 

  1. “Thou shalt not kill.”—Have I caused the injury or death of anyone, or wished that I were dead? Have I done anything to shorten my own life or that of someone else by injuring health, or though evil and intemperate living? Have I given way to anger, or harmed another with words or actions? Have I defamed others who needed help, or failed to stand up for those unjustly treated? Have I been cruel to anyone? Have I mistreated animals or destroyed any life unnecessarily? Have I failed to forgive anyone or harbored evil thoughts against them?

 

VII.  “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”—Have I given way to impure thoughts, words or deeds? Have I committed any unworthy actions alone or with others? Have I degraded myself in any way, or forgotten human dignity? Have I read immoral books or magazines, or delighted in obscenity of any kind? Have I associated with bad companions or frequented unsavory places? Have I eaten or drunk or smoked too much? Have I been lazy, idle, or wasted my time? Have I led others to commit sinful acts? Have I been unfaithful to any trust confided in me?

 

VIII.  “Thou shalt not steal.”—Have I stolen anything or wished to do so? Have I kept anything that did not belong to me? Have I tried honestly to find owners of lost articles I have found? Have I cheated anyone? Have I paid my debts? Have I lived within my income, and not wastefully and extravagantly? Have I given to the Church and to charitable causes in proportion to my means? Have I been honest and upright?

 

  1. “Thou shalt not bear false witness.”—Have I told lies, or added to or subtracted from the truth? Have I made careless statements or spoken evil of anyone? Have I told any secrets entrusted to me, or betrayed anyone? Have I gossiped about anyone or harmed their reputation? Have I concealed the truth, assisted in carrying out a lie, or pretended to commit a sin of which I was not guilty? Have I tried to see the good in others rather than their shortcomings?

 

  1. “Thou shalt not covet.”—Have I envied anything good that has come to others? Have I been jealous of another’s good fortune? Have I wished for anything that was another’s? Have I damaged or destroyed the property of another? Have I wished for things God has not given me, or been discontented with my lot? Have I been stingy? Have I held back anything due another? Have I hoped for the downfall of anyone so that I might gain by it? Have I failed to be gracious and generous to anyone? Have I expected God to give me that which I would refuse my fellow man?