“We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God´s compassionate love for others."
~ St. Clare of Assisi
We are destined to become a resurrected and glorious son or daughter of God, with God forever in heaven. Our life on this earth is a time of becoming that saint through the sufferings and failures of this life, as well as the restoration by grace and virtuous lives we live.
Fundamental to becoming a resurrected son or daughter is the requirement to first become crucified with the Lord Jesus Christ in this gift of life we have been given.
For Catholics, the Crucifix is essential for living out our daily lives. The Crucifix is the symbol of Christ’s ultimate act of love for us. The Crucifix depicts Jesus nailed to the cross and dying for our sins. We hang a crucifix on the walls of our homes and wear a crucifix on a chain around our necks so that we will be visibly reminded of Jesus’ love for us and our redemption.
For those who desire a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, the Crucifix also serves as an ideal focus of meditation. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said that the summary of all our sins can be found on the Crucifix. It is, therefore, the perfect way to examine our consciences.
Examining our consciences while gazing on the Crucifix will differ from person to person primarily depending on our state in life. For unmarried Catholics who are open to marriage, an examination of conscience while meditating on the Crucifix should include considerations related to the desire and efforts toward marriage.
Everything Jesus suffered on the cross has a direct correlation to any and every sin possible to commit, and he suffered through His body for them all. The following is an example of what an Examination of Conscience might be for those who are single, dating, and desiring to be married one day, as they meditate on the Crucifix.
The Sacred Head crowned with thorns – The sins we commit in our mind
The head containing the very mind of God with all wisdom and knowledge is used for a sick joke to mock Him as king by the crowning with piercing thorns.
Do I allow and foster impure thoughts?
Do I allow myself to think ill will about members of the opposite sex?
Am I still scarred from past relationships that my attitude going into a new relationship is to be close minded?
Do I harbor resentment for those who have hurt me in the past, and allow that to affect my current relationship?
Am I thinking about other things while with someone I’m dating?
Do I think about someone else I would prefer to be with?
Do I date people I already know I would never be open to love and marriage with just to have someone to go on a date with?
Do I think about inappropriate sexual things while on a date?
Do I try to think of ways to get the person I am dating to have sex with me?
The hands nailed to the wood of the cross – The sins we commit with our hands
Hands that touched and were raise for healing and performing miracles are nailed to wood like common parchment.
Have I tried to touch a person I’m dating inappropriate or impurely?
Have I ever physically hit someone I’m dating?
Have I avoided doing things for the person I’m dating like cooking for them, or doing works of charity?
Do I masturbate while looking at images of the opposite sex or thinking about the person I’m dating?
Do I type dishonest information about myself or send uncharitable messages on dating websites?
The feet nailed to the wood of the cross – The sins we commit with our feet
The feet that took Jesus all over Judea so that so many people could experience the Incarnate Word among us and come to believe are now made stationary with one nail through both feet.
Do I make extra efforts to get to places I should go that benefit others and myself, or am I too lazy?
Do I busy myself too much going here and there, depriving myself of necessary rest?
Do I avoid going out on dates because I would rather indulge in my own selfish interests?
Do I procrastinate going to places or into environments that offer me a chance to meet a quality person of the opposite sex?
Would I rather stay home and wait for God to bring my future spouse to my front door, or do I keep my feet moving to do my part so God can do His part?
Do I walk with people who will enhance me as a person, or prefer those who get me into trouble or lead me away from God?
The body of Christ stripped of His garments – The sins we commit of the flesh
As if He is not humiliated enough from the scourging and the carrying of his cross, Jesus is made to be fully exposed in body as His clothes are removed.
Have I exposed myself to a person I’m dating inappropriately?
Have I tried to remove clothing in an attempt to engage in pre-marital sex?
Do I show too much of my body publicly?
Am I mindful that chastity is as much in the mind as in the flesh or the manner of dressing?
Have I become numb, indifferent, conditioned to nudity or exposed flesh that I’m no longer affected by it, or don’t even realize I should be affected by it?
Do I strip people of their dignity through my callus or cruel words and behavior?
Do take pride in clothing my body and the way I should cloth my body?
Have I stripped myself of all that would distract me from God, or at least made a lifelong commitment to daily work on all that would distract me from God?
The Sacred Heart pierced with a lance – The sins we commit in our heart
Blood and water bursts out from Jesus’ side after his Sacred Heart is pierced, showering the crowds with the fullest extent of His love and cleansing those who would be splashed with the graces of mercy.
Am I protective of the heart of the person I’m dating?
Am I careful not to break the heart of the person I’m dating through insensitivity or selfishness?
Do I see the heart of the person I date as something to win and make feel safe?
Am I too quick to feel love for someone I’m dating as to make it vulnerable to heartbreak?
Is my heart closed off and too guarded as to not allow a nice person I’m dating to get to know me and to foster love?
Am I patient and gentle about creating a homey atmosphere that makes the other feel safe to share themselves with me?
Am I a good friend, or am I hard to get to know and too quick to cut someone off when things go wrong?
Is my heart forgiving with a motive for bringing about peace, or do I prefer unrest and discord because of hardened heart?
Do I lust after members of the opposite sex in my heart?
Does my heart desire things that are incompatible with true love and marriage?
Do I allow my heart to be attached to someone whom I could never be married to?
Is my heart pure, allowing me to see God in everyone?
Is my heart open to change in myself?
Am I flexible with the things that happen in life, or is my heart sad when things don’t go as planned?
Is my heart in the right place, or do I have ulterior motives in the things I do for or say to the those I am dating?
Are my priorities straight when it comes to what and who I love?
Do I let my heart rule my decisions instead of consulting my mind and determine what is most prudent and for the best despite my feelings?
Do I love God with all my heart and desire to keep His commandments, or do I prefer my own will, or attached to someone too much that I willingly desire to please them before God?
The outstretched arms – The sins we commit of being unwelcoming
Jesus’ arms are pulled out as far as they can go, as if to show us that God loves us that much. Who among us can ever extend our arms out in full and say we love anyone that much?
Am I a welcoming person and make people feel comfortable?
Are my arms always outstretched and open to comforting those who need it?
Do I offer my arms to give hugs?
Do I offer the person I’m dating chaste hugs to show my affection and care?
Is my attitude in life to smile and open my arms to receive, or do I always look miserable and reserved and keep my arms to my side as to be stand offish?
Can everyone find mercy with me, or am I easily offended and make people feel guilty or inferior?
The suffering in silence – The sins we commit with our lips and our speech
Amidst the chaos of the crowd shouting at Jesus to save Himself and come down from the cross, He silently endures, speaking very little, and only when necessary.
Am I quick to talk and slow to listen?
Do I complain about every little thing when I should endure it silently and patiently?
Do I speak without thinking or consideration for the other person?
Do I enjoy bad mouthing about the opposite sex and bad dates?
Do I remain silent and accept annoying things on a date, or do I insist on making comments?
Do I look for positive things to say about the person I’m dating?
Do I say “I’m sorry” when I have said or done something wrong?
Do I say things that will help resolve problems with the person I’m dating, or do I remain silent and allow things to get worse while waiting for the other to make things right?
Do I say the words “I love you” without backing it up with my actions?
Do I speak kindly and with self control, or do I raise my voice or shout to make my points?
Do I monopolize conversation or talk only about myself?
Do I no talk enough and keep to myself too much while making the other uncomfortable trying to find things to talk about?
Am I abusive in my conversations with the person I‘m dating, making them feel bad, hurting their feelings, or trying to manipulate them?
Do I have a sincere desire to use the gift of speech to build up others and not tear them down?
The eyes impaired by blood and closing from death approaching – The sins we commit with our eyes
The blood from Jesus’ pierced head drips into his eyes, which now have only a distorted vision of the world.
Do I look appropriately at the opposite sex?
Do I realize that my eyes are the windows to my soul and everything I look at affects me?
Do I lack the will power to guard my eyes from those things I know are wrong?
Do I partake in looking at pornography?
Do I watch too much television or too many movies?
Do I over-indulge in visual entertainment, or watching the news?
Do I feel I need to see the things I allow myself to see?
Do I make eye contact with the person I’m dating, or do I look away a lot?
Do I make my date feel uncomfortable by looking at him or her inappropriately?
Do I look around at other members of the opposite sex while I’m out with the person I’m dating?
Am I wise and prudent about what I watch and read?
Do I criticize the person I’m dating when I observe what they do?
Do I observe the needs of the person I’m dating and act, or am I to self-absorbed to notice?
Do I pay close attention to the things that are unique about the person I’m dating and their interests so I can really get to know them?
Do I do things for the person I’m dating that shows that I have been paying attention to who they are?
The blood poured out from every part of the body – The sins we commit from holding back giving our life to others
With all the life of Jesus extinguishing from His body, His ultimate decision to lay down His life for us proves the truth of what it means to love.
Am I the kind of person who will do anything for anyone without counting the costs?
Do I desire to pour out my life for the person I will eventually marry?
Do I practice the concept of total self giving through the people that are in my life?
Am I selfish?
Do I prefer to always have what I want and do what I want, before considering the needs of others?
Am I impatient with the person I date and don’t give the relationship a chance to develop?
Am I only looking for someone who will serve me and please me in every way, or for someone whom I can serve and give my entire self to?
Do I have the capability of loving someone with all their faults and imperfections, or am I only willing to consider marriage if I know I the other person will always make me happy and never hurt me?
Do I see myself giving in marriage as Jesus gave in love for us on the cross?
Am I willing to choose a suitable partner and move forward with a loving marriage, or am I always making excuses for why I should not give myself completely to someone God has put into my life?
These are but a few questions to consider. As you pray before the Crucifix, allow the Holy Spirit to inspire you with further details of your life. It is all there on the cross for you to discover.
Anthony Buono is the founder of Avemariasingles.com. For thousands of Catholic singles, Anthony offers guidance, humor, understanding, and practical relationship advice. Visit his blog at 6stonejars.com.
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.