A Time to Engage in a Consciousness Examen

by Jul 2, 2020Blog, CCVI COVID-19 Responses, Education0 comments

Lord, you have examined me and you know me.
You know everything I do; from fam away you understand all my thoughts…
Examine me, O God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts.
Find out if there is any evil in me and guide me in the everlasting way.
— Psalm 139: 1-2, 23-24

Dear University of the Incarnate Word Community,

In my last communication, I invited each of us to engage in concrete actions to end racism. Today, I am writing to invite each one of us to engage in a Consciousness Examen as a way to reflect on our daily lives and on how our daily decisions impact the lives of our students, staff, faculty, etc., especially those who belong to minority groups.

This Consciousness Examen calls us to look at the world with hearts of compassion, to look at what may seem or feel uncomfortable (i.e., Black Lives Matter, COVID 19, health care disparities, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, etc.), and to let it resonate inside our minds and hearts so that we may be transformed.

It also invites us to spend time in silence to allow God to see into our hearts. It demands that we take time to conduct self-scrutiny, and that we ask these fundamental questions to ourselves: Do I have the moral courage to honestly look at myself, to open myself up to self-critique, and to see where I may be invited to act? Are we capable of acting on what we know, both individually and as community?

Indeed, if we are who we say we are, that is, a Catholic institution, then to believe is to act, to act is to commit, and to commit is to do the right thing, even if doing so involves risks, criticism, and push back for standing up for what is good and just.

It is in this spirit of truth, of soul-searching, and of faith that I offer the following questions for our pondering, praying, and deciding to do the right thing. My hope is that taking time to engage in this self-examination will empower each one of us to  channel the Word Incarnate through our words, behaviors, and actions.

  • Do I (we)believe all human life is sacred?
  • Do I (we) project anger, distress, hatred, arrogance?
  • Do I (we) separate people into categories and see them as ‘other,’ not as ‘us’?Do I (we) resist racism or do I (we) remain silent in the face of social injustices?
  • Do I (we) acknowledge our complicity in racism, especially due to white privilege?
  • Do I (we) educate ourselves by listening to other people’s stories and experiences as a way of growing in empathy, understanding, and compassion?
  • Do I (we) use offensive language that belittles or diminishes others – especially when ‘them’ are not around and we can freely talk about how ‘we’ really feel?
  • Do I (we) promote policies that combat racism at all levels of society?
  • Do I (we) think about other people’s needs rather than just about my own needs and those of the people I love?
  • Have I (we) said, “I am not racist,” yet engage in racist thoughts/actions?
  • Have I (we) taken time to listen to others who do not look like me (us), or have different experiences of life?
  • Have I (we) seen a street person and made a judgment about their status of unemployment, homelessness, or dress without really knowing their story?
  • Have I (we) fostered healing and promoted right relationships as I (we) commit to build a culture of life?
  • Have I (we) harmed others through my (our) failure to create communities of inclusion, equity, and civility?

Self-scrutinize! Acknowledge! Transform!


Sr. Walter Maher, CCVI
Vice President, Mission & Ministry


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