A modern examination of conscience. (But not too modern… we’re loyal to the teachings of the Catholic Church here!)
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
Do you need to grow in meekness? I know I do!
All too often we find ourselves letting anger get the best of us. We raise our voices at our kids, or give the silent treatment to our spouse. Parenting (heck, any relationship) can be frustrating, and it’s easy to let things get under our skin.
This month, we will take a closer look at meekness. What is it, what does it call us to do or avoid, and how can we cultivate this virtue?
Let’s inherit the earth (whatever that means)!
What is meekness?
Meekness is the virtue that moderates anger. Anger as an emotion is neither good nor bad. However, when we let anger become a passion, and dictate our reactions, anger becomes the sin of wrath.
Meekness helps us keep this anger in check, it helps us submit it to the voice of reason.
If we feel angry about something, we have to take a step back and evaluate that offense that caused our blood to boil. If we find out we’re upset by some petty insult, that’s when we need to practice the virtue of meekness. We need to scale back our temper, take a deep breath, slow down our pulse, and decide how to act virtuously.
If we’re upset by a true evil or injustice, that’s an opportunity to practice just anger!
That doesn’t mean we should go all Jesus-in-the-temple style, lashing out with whips and driving people out of our house…. but we do need to find a way to address the wrong and correct it if we can.
Let’s brainstorm some ways we can practice the virtue of meekness and avoid the vice of anger throughout the day. Consider this your detailed examination of conscience for the month.
This is the first part of our Meekness Challenge!
(If you can’t stand the anticipation, feel free to scroll down to “Take the Challenge,” and come back to the examination of conscience when you’re filled in!)
Examination of Conscience
How to Practice Meekness
Learn and pray about meekness (open your heart to growth and change):
- Learn the definition of meekness, its complementary virtue (just anger) and its opposing vice (anger or wrath). Reflect on how to increase virtue in your daily life and root out sin (this is where your printable comes in handy!) Read more about meekness here.
- Pray for God’s help. It takes like three seconds. If you feel your emotions starting to rise, cry out to God, “Give me meekness!” (Did you time that? It was way less than three seconds)
- Pray before typing. Social media is so tempting. Just because we don’t see someone in front of us, we sometimes feel entitled to say whatever we want. Well there’s another person at the other end. Sitting there, looking at her computer screen, feeling the hurt of our nasty comments. You’ve felt it before. Next time, put yourself in her shoes and control your speech even online.
Practice meekness toward others:
- Choose silence over arguing. So somebody doesn’t like your Facebook comment: should you launch into a heated argument? Or maybe should you take a step back and pray before you type your response? (I vote the latter.)
- Use a gentle voice. If you’re a parent, especially with your spouse and your kids. And in prayer. No need to shout at God, he knows what’s best for us.
- Use gentle body language. No more waving our hands in anger, pointing fingers (literally or figuratively) rolling our eyes, huffing and puffing. Time to let meekness into our body language. Clasp those hands in front of you imitating prayer (and reminding you to pray too!) if you can’t control them otherwise.
Practice meekness toward yourself:
- Resolve to do better tomorrow. Don’t fret over imperfection. We all screw up. And sometimes, it ruins our day. Or our week. We feel really reaaaalllly badly. But we don’t make a plan to move forward. We just stew in our anger, and let everyone around us know it. Instead of letting our emotions get the best of us, meekness lets us make a real plan, resolve to do better tomorrow, and feel good about it!
- When you fall, get up and try again. (Didn’t I pretty much just say that? Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. It’s important.)
Practice mindful remedies to anger:
- Be serious and stern about correcting fault if necessary. This is the just anger part. Meekness doesn’t mean being a doormat. It means controlling our unruly passions. But when something is truly wrong, and right needs defending (think: abortion, marriage, your child being bullied in school), do something about it. Make a plan to stick up for the underdog, to right the wrong, and don’t back down.
- Practice meekness as a remedy to anger. When you do get angry, be intentional about the things you say, the way you walk and move. Purposely walk just a little slower. Talk just a little more quietly. You will feel yourself beginning to calm down.
- Also practice meekness when you’re not angry. This is one I need badly. Let’s say you’re late for church. If you’re like me, you become like a drill sergeant. Ordering people around, rushing back and forth, “MOVE! MOVE! MOVE!” You’re not angry yet, but you’re in frantic mode. Just stop. Literally. Stand still and take 30 seconds to make a plan. Take a deep breath. Then walk, don’t run. Speak, don’t shout. Request, don’t demand. This is one of my top goals for this month.
How to Avoid Anger
Learn about the connection between pride and anger (don’t let pride escalate into further sinfulness):
- Reflect on the connection between anger and pride. When we think we’re the center of our universe, anger is the response to somebody doing something we don’t like. More about anger and pride, if you’re interested in studying it deeper.
- Don’t be oversensitive. “No way! Did she really just say that to me?!” Yes, she did. Get over yourself.
- Don’t retaliate when corrected. If your friend cares enough to correct you, care enough to fix it.
Avoid angry thoughts:
- Don’t let your emotions get out of control. Those days where you yell, slam doors, (God forbid – hurt someone else), say something you wish you could take back. Let’s cut those days to a minimum.
- Don’t plan revenge. I don’t think you’re the mafia-hide-the-body type (ummm, if you are, don’t do that either) but that perfect comeback that will show her… that’s revenge too.
- Don’t refuse forgiveness. Ever hold a grudge, or wallow in a bad mood? Me too. Ever decide “not to forgive him unless he does x y and z?” Me too. We need to let go. Think of those grudges, and make peace with those people in your life. Whether it’s a friend or family member who hurt you, or a spouse you betrayed you, we need to start the healing process now.
Avoid angry behavior:
- Don’t destroy someone’s reputation or cut them down out of envy. We’re talking gossip here. Plain ole’ church parking lot gossip. Think twice about what you say, and your intentions for saying it. Then… don’t say it.
- Don’t participate in petty fights and arguments. Do you argue for the sake of arguing? Just to hear yourself be right? Maybe you do this at family gatherings (Thanksgiving is coming up, after all). Maybe you do this online (trolling!). Maybe you do this with your spouse out of habit. Is it really worth it? If not, just let it go.
- Don’t let your anger determine your discipline. Yeah, I do this one. “STOP doing that! It’s so annoying!” But it wasn’t wrong or bad… just annoying to me. And how about the name-calling. Do we really think calling our kids a “brat” or a “monster” will help the situation? Does “What were you thinking?!” help them change their behavior, or just make them feel the blame?
- Don’t use a snippy tone of voice. Ever notice that when you start snipping at each other, things get heated quickly, and one wrong comment turns into a blow-out fight? Here’s a way to turn things around quickly: change that tone of voice. Try saying, “Yes, honey?” instead of, “What do you want!!!”
Avoid contributing to anger in others:
- Don’t provoke others to anger. Did you ever see Disney’s Inside Out? Well that scene where Disgust provokes Anger to the point where his head literally explodes… don’t do that. Not even a little bit. Sometimes our discipline can look like this. Our kids made us so stinking mad we’re going to take away all their toys, and all their food, and all their books, and they can just sit in their bed and starve! That’s not meek. Or effective.
- Don’t refuse to ask for forgiveness. Our friends and family have a right to just anger too. But don’t feed the fire of their passions. Ask for forgiveness when you’ve wronged someone else.
Take the Challenge:
Are you ready to grow in meekness? Let’s get started! Here’s what you need to do:
- Prepare. If you haven’t already, read the examination carefully and reflect on what it means in your life. Print out your materials and place them in convenient places in your home. For extra support and check-ins, sign up for our email list!
- Every morning, start the day with your meekness prayer (find it on your Nightstand Guide).
- Throughout the day, use your Fridge Guide to help integrate meekness and eliminate anger. Your Fridge guide has brief reminders to help you practice meekness and avoid anger, and some bonus extras (like an indulgenced prayer – woot!).
- Every evening, pray the nightly Examen (find it on your Nightstand Guide). This is a step-by-step review of your day, including praying for forgiveness, and resolving to do better tomorrow.
- Before confession, reflect on your progress using the Examination of Conscience printable. Make sure to reflect, not only on your sins and failings, but also on how God has blessed you with growth in virtue!
This Virtue Challenge is going to change your life! I pray God gives each of you (and me too, I need this) the grace you need to grow in meekness, to avoid the sin of anger, and to become the saint He’s calling you to be.
Take the Meekness Virtue Challenge now! Grab some cardstock, print your printables, and get ready for a grace-filled, growth-filled month.
Created in conjunction with Momsters Raising Monsters