While commenting on Psalm 14, “Who is worthy to be before the Lord?,” Pope John Paul II said during his general audience today that Christians must ponder their own moral integrity in an examination of conscience before going to Holy Communion.
The Holy Father affirmed that, as opposed to other religious cultures that require “an exterior ritual pureness that includes ablutions, gestures, and special clothing” in order to be received by God, Psalm 14 emphasizes “the purification of the conscience so that every decision is inspired by love of justice and one’s neighbor” and invites us to “combine faith and love, prayer and existential commitment, adoration and social justice.”
Referring to the eleven duties that “can be the basis of a personal examination of conscience every time we prepare to confess our sins and to be admitted in communion with the Lord in the liturgical celebration,” John Paul II enumerated those that “express an ethical choice: to follow the path of moral integrity, the practice of justice, and perfect sincerity in speaking.”
In reference to our neighbor, he said, “there are three duties: to eliminate calumny in our language, to avoid any action that could hurt our brother, to do away with insults against those who are beside us on a daily basis.”
“Then there is the need for a clear position in the social setting: to despise evil, honor those who fear God.”
“Finally, the last three precepts that should be part of our examination of conscience: to be faithful to our word upon swearing, even when there are negative consequences for us; not to practice usury, a scourge that even in our times is an infamous reality capable of strangling the life of many people, and lastly to avoid any type of corruption in public life, another duty which we should know how to practice with vigor in our time.”
John Paul II finally emphasized that “to follow this way of authentic moral choices means being prepared to encounter the Lord. Those who react in the way indicated by the psalmist - concludes our prayer – ‘will never vacillate’.”