I often find myself as a priest celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation giving Mary’s prayer “The Magnificat” as a prayer for someone’s penance. Mary’s words echo Hanna’s song from the book of Samuel that she sings when she is blessed with a child. I encourage the person praying these words from Luke to use them as a model for their prayer of praise and thanksgiving.
What would we say in praise of what God has done for us?
Recently I found these questions written by Diana Macalintal helpful. They can be used as an examination of conscience.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit exults in God my saviour.
- Does my very being, my very presence preach the goodness of God?
- Do I sing, dance, play, and rejoice with others as often as I can?
For he has looked upon his lowly handmaid; behold, Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed.
- Who have I looked down upon because of their particular spirituality, lifestyle, political party, educational background, or economic wealth or poverty?
- How has my need to help the lowly dominated their need to know the dignity of helping themselves?
For the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name.
- When have I taken credit for what I have not done?
- When have I denied my own participation in the evil that our communities, church, families, countries, or other associations have done?
His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.
- Have I lost our sense of mercy and compassion so that nothing ever angers or sickens me?
- Have I lost our sense of fear, awe, and reverence that nothing ever moves me at my core.
He shown the power of his arm and routed the proud of heart.with his arm.
- Have I been secretly arrogant?
- Have I used our own power, status, education, or religion to put others down, even in the silence of my heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.
- Have I done all I can to participate in and influence the political life of my local area and nationally?
- Have I been afraid to be prophetic and revolutionary even at the cost of my own comfort?
The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich set empty away.
- Have I become gluttonous for praise, solitude, piety, or the safety of those who are like me?
- Who have I sent away empty, without my acknowledgment, thanks, care, or gratitude?
He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful his mercy, according to the promise he made to to our ancestors-to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
- Have I refused to give help and mercy?
- Have I broken my promises?
- Will I leave this world a more merciful, just, and beautiful place for my descendants?