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Examen of Conscience

One of the many contributions that the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous have brought to twentieth century culture is a modern interpretation of the Examen of Conscience, known in Twelve-Step circles as step ten: ''continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.''

This personal inventory can range from the 'spot-check' which can be done at any time; the inventory of the day's events at night; the occasional inventory done with another, such as a spiritual director; and those undertaken during solitary retreats. It is important to include in the inventory the things we've done right.

Tradition has it that Pythagoras instructed his disciples: ''that they should daily, morning and evening, employ some time in examining themselves upon these three questions: what have I done? How have I done it? What have I omitted to do? He further bade them to rejoice at what they found they had done well, and repent and feel sorry for what they had done amiss.''

Having so considered our day, not omitting to take due note of things done well, and having searched our hearts with neither fear nor favour, we can truly thank God for the blessings we have received and sleep in good conscience.

Henry Morgan