Examination of Conscience and the Beatitudes

Spiritual and psychological self-test, questions for each beatitude to evaluate the Christian life and the authenticity of a vocational call in the Church, especially the call to celibacy


Spiritual and Psychological Self-diagnostic Test



This examination of conscience links the beatitudes, the key to Christian life, to the three pillars that guarantee psychological stability: identity, autonomy, and self-esteem. That is why we also called it a self-diagnostic test. The greatest guarantee for getting it right is to ask God for light and grace.

Reviewing the beatitudes is necessary for any Christian because they are the program of life that Jesus Christ proposes to his disciples of all times, his identity card. It contains some questions designed for a person who feels called to a vocation in the Catholic Church, especially if he or she wishes to assume the gift of celibacy.

Deciding on a particular status of Christian life, in marriage or celibate state, requires personal discernment, gaining certainty on three points:

  • God is the one who calls
  • The response is free and rightly motivated
  • One possesses the necessary conditions and aptitudes

This self-diagnostic test can facilitate the personal work of recognizing a call from God and accepting it, but it does not replace the individual effort to praying and doing self-examination, spiritual accompaniment, or ecclesial discernment. The beatitudes show us Christian perfection, as an ideal to which we aspire given our limitations. They are the strings that must be tuned to play a particular individual symphony, unique and unrepeatable, that is heard on earth and in heaven.

Whoever examines the beatitudes realizes how much he has yet to strive to live them to the full, but this does sadden him; he discovers who he is, but above all who he wants to become. He finds in them the notes that he could play in a thousand ways, with the Holy Spirit as conductor. He knows that alone he can do nothing, and he always turns to "the One who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).

It would be very helpful to answer the questions while bearing in mind those words of Jesus in the Last Supper when he prays for his disciples: "sanctify them in the truth" (Jn. 17:17). Only the truth sets us free and will enable us to become the kind of man God wants us to be. The other two conditions for the efficacy of this self-examination are as follows:

  • to see the beatitudes as guidelines of love in which there is always room for growth, in a sporting and joyful spirit, and not as the minimum limit or threshold,
  • to foster hope, convinced that God loves us in every circumstance, and that "he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6).


Examination of conscience using the eight beatitudes
recounted by St. Matthew (Mt. 5:1-12).


I. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

1. Do I have the right intention? Do I want to serve God and souls out of love or am I moved more by the desire to please other people, to have a "professional outlet" that will provide me with self-support and to become "important"?

2. Can I really say that I have the necessary aptitudes for the particular path I wish to follow, convinced that vocation is a gift and not a right?

3. Am I willing to renounce the money and honors that perhaps I could licitly acquire in other ways with detachment and humility?

4. Do I aspire to be poor in spirit with the freedom that detachment gives, without letting myself become the center of my yearnings, or material goods, or envy? Do I want it as a pious adoration of God and with the desire to enrich others?

5. Do I allow the word of God to purify my heart, allowing the Holy Spirit to act? Do I know that only he can perfect my love, or do I try to be the model for myself and for others?

6. Do I want to build the kingdom of God, knowing how to hide and disappear, or do I think of a human kingdom of wealth, power, pride, and comfort?

7. Do I understand the greatness of humility, which goes hand in hand with a poverty of spirit, and do I want to know myself in everything as God sees me?

8. Am I willing to be the first to live in a poor Church and for the poor, without ever taking advantage of her for my own material benefit?

9. Do I make it easy for those who will evaluate my conditions for the path I wish to follow to know me, and do I listen to their advice, knowing that self-knowledge includes what other people make me see, including my parents, friends, and acquaintances?


II. Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.

1. Do I learn from the Son of God to be meek and humble, am I able to control with his grace my appetites and my reactions, especially my anger?

2. In what way do I identify myself with what the Lord advises me, especially in discerning my vocation; and I do ask him: how would you do this, how would you react if you were in my circumstances? 

3. Do I appreciate meekness without confusing it with weakness or inhibition, and do I live self-control by practicing self-mastery?

4. Do I want to be meek, that is to say to have possession of myself, which is a necessary condition to surrender myself, letting Christ act in me and through me?

5. Do I know how to take advantage of negative emotions, such as fear -which play the role of making it easier for me to flee from doing evil- and sadness, which serves as a reminder for me to return to God if I have wandered away?

6. Do I understand that to possess the earth is to return it as good as it came from the hands of its creator, and for that, the first thing I should do is to allow myself to be transformed by him?

7. Do I know that the truth is not imposed, but shown, that Christianity attracts by affirmation and without hurting, that prayer and silent example count more than many words or promotional initiatives or brilliant books?

8. Do I respect the freedom of all with tolerance, which does not mean to agree; and am I willing to take up the cross of Christ and raise it, so that he is the one who attracts?


III. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

1. Do I try to handle success and failure when they come, knowing how to thank God with joy for what is good and to recover myself with his help when something goes wrong? What or who moves me to decide?

2. How compassionate is my heart when I see those who live in poverty, whether material or spiritual, those who are alone, or sick, or in prison?

3. Even though I may not always understand it, I know that pain has a redemptive meaning that Christ has given it on the cross; do I want to weep as Jesus wept with those who weep?

4. Do I weep for the harm done to so many people, especially to children, by abuses of various kinds?

5. Does sadness or discouragement flood over my soul for no clear reason; do I seek relief, even physiologically or psychologically?

6. Do I fill my life with healthy joys and do I know how to rest according to my identity?

7. Knowing that God loved us first, do I try to smile and grow in good humor, to give relief to others and alleviate sorrows; do I live with optimism and Christian joy to make others happy?


IV. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 

1. Do I dream of a better world and ask for the magnanimity to go forward with what God shows me, without being satisfied with the minimum, without stopping at what seems "enough"?

2. Do I have an authentic solicitude for the poor, desiring material and spiritual good for them, which includes the knowledge of Christ?

3. Am I moved by injustices such as the trafficking of children, women, and men in crimes of abuse and exploitation? Have I ever been an accomplice?

4. Is my dedication motivated by a desire to serve and work or do I seek my own well-being?

5. Do I hunger to be holy, to unite myself more and more to God, not with my arms but with his? Do I always ask for and want to feel that hunger?  

6. In giving myself completely to God, does the thirst for justice remind me that he who does not love his brother whom he sees cannot love God whom he does not see? How do I seek to quench Christ's thirst for love and souls on the cross with my dedication and my friendship with him?


V. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

1. Do I find words of apology for those who make mistakes, those who do not share my views or insult me?

2. Do I strive to have the heart of a father and mother who loves and understands everyone, ready to show the mistakes of others for their own good?

3. Do I sympathize with those who suffer because of their distance from God owing to their sins, and do I intercede with my prayer, my concern, and understanding like those of Christ?

4. When I reflect on my life story and perhaps see wounds caused by others, how do I forgive? Does it help me to remember that forgiveness is a choice and not a feeling?

5. Do I acknowledge and become aware of any wounds from my past that disturb me, asking for help in understanding and healing them?

6. Do I pray to God to remove misery from my heart, and succeed in abandoning the past in his mercy, the future in his providence, focusing on the today and now of his love?

7. Do I live with the joy of knowing that God has come to seek sinners and has redeemed us, and am I willing to bear the burdens of others?


VI. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

1. Can I say that I act with an upright conscience, seeking the good, that I know my emotions, feelings and passions, and that they vibrate in harmony with my love for God and for others?

2. Am I building with grace and virtues, on my inherited temperament, an upright character, that I know how to control myself, be independent and autonomous, capable of following my own convictions, the conscience formed by Christ?

3. Am I careful about what I watch? Do I know how to guard my senses, especially my sight, so that greed for material goods or lust, which defile my eyes, sadden, and prevent me from seeing God, do not enter through my eyes?

4. Have I tried to heal any wounds in my heart, with sincerity and forgiveness; and have I spoken of past experiences that perhaps require more integration?

5. Do I seek not to injure the affective world of another person, by acts or thefts of intimacy, such as pornography; and do I see that the Lord is seeking me because he loves me (cf. Mt. 5:27-30)?

6. Do I realize that impurity of heart, duplicity or incoherence, in particular, detracts from my freedom for celibacy, prevents me from seeing God, from understanding him within myself, in the truth and beauty of the world, and in others?

7. How do I live chastity? Do I live it according to the lifestyle I want to embrace, and if I aspire to live celibacy, do I think that I can be happy renouncing marriage and the affective consolations it brings?

8. Do I seek professional help if I feel that I have lost my freedom in the affective sphere, or if I am enslaved by social networks and the Internet, and feel incapable of stopping it,?

9. Do I love all people in the right order, without dependencies that make me fall into jealousy, envy or improper acts of submission; and do I know that the cleansing of the heart comes from God who takes away our selfishness?

10. Do I allow God to enkindle my heart from within when it grows cold, and do I renew my will to love Him continually, so as to be more sensitive to faith and hope?


VII. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

1. Do I practice patience or the science of peace, knowing that prayer precedes thought in importance and thought precedes action?

2. Do I know that what happens depends partly on me and partly on external factors: God, the environment, others, good or bad luck? Or, do I go to extremes: I am the only one to blame or the one who succeeds... or, nothing depends on me and it is the fault of destiny?

3. Do I know that I can be responsible for what I do, for my decisions, for my thoughts?

4. Do I live with serenity most of my time, or does anxiety, fear, or shame dominate me, sometimes without knowing why? Have I looked for remedies and solutions?

5. Am I convinced that violence is never an adequate means, even if it is presented in the guise of self-defense, justice, or honor?

6. Is world peace an important value for me and do I care about people of all races and nations, their material and spiritual well-being, as well as the ecological care of other creatures and of the world, our common home?

7. Do I understand that peace involves struggle and effort: the healthy tension for the sake of the one I love; that Jesus brought peace, but also a sword to cut down our self-love and purify our passions, and that only in this way will peace reign within me and around me?

8. Am I proud to be a child of God and is it a constant source of self-esteem, by which I confront shyness, if it is present in my character?


VIII. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

1. Am I willing to give witness to my choice of life; and do I know that for this full internal and external coherence is necessary?

2. Am I motivated in my decision by the desire to proclaim the Gospel to many people, to serve in the vineyard of the Lord with initiative and autonomy?

3. Do I face difficulties with courage and good humor, trying to see the positive side, convinced that God does not lose battles and fights by our side?

4. Do I want to help build the kingdom of heaven, ready at any time to surrender my will and abandon any personal project, even a good and apostolic one, obeying the authorities of the Church, especially my bishop if I aspire to the priesthood?

5. Do I understand that the beatitudes are the way to attain happiness, to possess the kingdom of heaven that already begins on earth?

6. Do I often raise my eyes, knowing that I am part of a Church open to all, "going forth" where the reward is to live forever with the one who has the words of eternal life?

7. Do I let Christ live in me, do I protect the pearl of great price that is his kingdom and do I want to bring this "reason for my hope" (cf. 1 Pet. 3:15) to many people?

8. When I experience indifference or rejection before this coherent message, do I realize that it is not a failure, and does it move me to humbly follow the Master?


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