KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Is it a sin to tell a racist joke? Rig a deal to boost your business? Pour your used oil in the driveway?
By this point in Lent, many Catholics have already broken their Lenten resolutions. Fortunately, Lent is the gift that keeps on giving — especially since there is still time to prepare for Easter by receiving the sacrament of reconciliation.
The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes (see “Got Sin?” in the March 4 issue of The Leaven, ) aren’t the only frameworks for a good examination of conscience. In fact, many Catholics might find the questions recommended by the U.S. bishops, based on Catholic social teaching (see below), quite pertinent to their daily lives.
Life and dignity of the human person
• Do I respect the life and dignity of every human person from conception through natural death?
• Do I recognize the face of Christ reflected in all others around me whatever their race, class, age, or abilities?
• Do I work to protect the dignity of others when it is being threatened?
• Am I committed to both protecting human life and to ensuring that every human being is able to live in dignity?
Call to family, community, and participation
• Do I try to make positive contributions in my family and in my community?
• Are my beliefs, attitudes, and choices such that they strengthen or undermine the institution of the family?
• Am I aware of problems facing my local community and involved in efforts to find solutions? Do I stay informed and make my voice heard when needed?
• Do I support the efforts of poor persons to work for change in their neighborhoods and communities? Do my attitudes and interactions empower or disempower others?
Rights and responsibilities
• Do I recognize and respect the economic, social, political, and cultural rights of others?
• Do I live in material comfort and excess while remaining insensitive to the needs of others whose rights are unfulfilled?
• Do I take seriously my responsibility to ensure that the rights of persons in need are realized?
• Do I urge those in power to implement programs and policies that give priority to the human dignity and rights of all, especially the vulnerable?
Option for the poor and vulnerable
• Do I give special attention to the needs of the poor and vulnerable in my community and in the world?
• Am I disproportionately concerned for my own good at the expense of others?
• Do I engage in service and advocacy work that protects the dignity of poor and vulnerable persons?
The dignity of work and the rights of workers
• As a worker, do I give my employer a fair day’s work for my wages? As an owner, do I treat workers fairly?
• Do I treat all workers with whom I interact with respect, no matter their position or class?
• Do I support the rights of all workers to adequate wages, health insurance, vacation and sick leave? Do I affirm their right to form or join unions or worker associations?
• Do my purchasing choices take into account the hands involved in the production of what I buy? When possible, do I buy products produced by workers whose rights and dignity were respected?
• Does the way I spend my time reflect a genuine concern for others?
• Is solidarity incorporated into my prayer and spirituality? Do I lift up vulnerable people throughout the world in my prayer, or is it reserved for only my personal concerns?
• Am I attentive only to my local neighbors or also those across the globe?
• Do I see all members of the human family as my brothers and sisters?
Care for God’s creation
• Do I live out my responsibility to care for God’s creation?
• Do I see my care for creation as connected to my concern for poor persons, who are most at risk from environmental problems?
• Do I litter? Live wastefully? Use energy too freely? Are there ways I could reduce consumption in my life?
• Are there ways I could change my daily practices and those of my family, school, workplace, or community to better conserve the earth’s resources for future generations?