Christmas is a time of reflection. It is a useful period to think about what was good in the past year and what could have been better.
While I am Hindu, I have been attending the Saturday novenas in Novena Church or Church of St Alphonsus, as regularly as reasonably possible, since I was 16.
It is one of the few places in Singapore where I find peace, away from the hustle and bustle of this busy city.
In reflecting about the year, I have applied a series of questions called the "Examination of Conscience", which are printed in the last few pages of the book for Saturday novenas.
The book, Novena Devotion To Our Mother of Perpetual Help, can be purchased at Novena Church.
I have adapted some of these questions for my own use. I believe it is a useful checklist for all persons, regardless of their spiritual leanings.
1. When making important decisions about my way of life, who have I put first?
2. Who have I really trusted, especially in times of difficulty?
3. Is my heart set on money, on my own amusement at any cost?
4. Do I pray each day, spend time with those that I love, and am thankful for what I have and enjoy?
5. Who do I see in others, even in those who have hurt me?
6. Do I love others as much as myself? My family, my friends, my working colleagues, my classmates, my next-door neighbours, people I meet each day?
7. Do I use people for my own ends and advantage?
7. In my family life, do I really try to fulfill my responsibilities, as father or mother, as husband or wife, as son or daughter, as brother or sister?
8. Do I make my home a happy, loving and peaceful place by being accepting, understanding, tolerant and forgiving, giving others consideration and supporting them in their personal difficulties?
9. Have I been faithful to my husband / wife?
10. As a parent, have I done my best to provide for both the spiritual and material needs of my children?
11. Do I use other people? Do I use their bodies for my sexual gratification? Do I respect them, as I would my own family member or a loved one?
12. Do I empathise with others, especially the suffering, the sick, the poor and the aged?
13. Do I spend time and money on the less fortunate? Have I forgotten to help victims of oppression or poverty?
14. Do I do my fair share in working for the good of my community and contributing in some measure to the good of the whole society?
15. Do I selfishly stand aloof and neglect all appeals for help? Do I avoid getting involved with the people at home or at work?
16. Do I do nothing about obvious injustice suffered by others?
17. Am I honest when talking about others? Do I build myself up while I tear others down?
18. Am I prejudiced, making fun of others who are different? Other races? People of other religions? Those who disagree with me? Those I dislike for no reason at all?
19. Have I failed to share my positive beliefs and experiences?
20. Do I intentionally break the laws enacted by legitimate authority? Do I drive dangerously or recklessly? Have I driven under the influence of drink?
21. Have I been truthful and fair? Have I deliberately deceived others? Judged or condemned them rashly? Injured their reputation by lies about them? Have I revealed secrets and broken confidences?
22. Have I stolen the property of others or planned to get hold of what belongs to another?
23. Have I made restitution of what I have wrongfully taken and made good their loss?
24. Am I grateful for the way I am or do I belittle my particular gifts or talents?
25. Do I mistreat my body with drugs and alcohol or overwork? Do I get enough rest and recreation?
26. Do I make my own decisions with the help and guidance of others?
27. Am I a good and loving friend to others? Do I use others for my own well-being? Am I self-centred and egoistical, thinking only of myself?
28. Do I waste money on frivolous things? Do I share what I have generously with others?
29. Do I appreciate what I have, count my blessings or harp on my mistakes, failures, focus on my shortcomings and limitations, wallow in self-pity?
The reader perusing the above checklist should bear in mind that the questions in bold have been amended to enable me to personally apply it to my unique circumstances as a non-Catholic.
The rest of questions in the checklist are the same as what one would find in the book for Saturday novenas.
If you would like the original list of questions, please do purchase a copy of the book for Saturday novenas from Novena Church, 300 Thomson Road, Singapore 307653. I am sure your contribution will help the church to continue its good work.