OPW#5. Examen

QUOTE

The Basic Resource:

Try the Daily Examen by Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ
https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/ignatian-spirituality/examen-and-ignatian-prayer/how-can-i-pray-try-the-daily-examen?p=1

In the Examen, we review our recent past to find God and God’s blessings in life. We also look back to find moments in the day when things didn’t go so well—when we were hurt by something that happened to us, or when we sinned or made a mistake. We give praise and thanksgiving for the blessed moments. We ask forgiveness and healing for the difficult and painful moments. Having reflected on this past day, we then turn to the day yet to come and ask God to show us the potential challenges and opportunities of tomorrow. We try to anticipate which moments might go one way or the other for us: toward God’s plan or away from it. We ask for insight into what graces we might need to live this next day well; patience, wisdom, fortitude, self-knowledge, peace, optimism. We ask God for that grace, and we trust that he wants us to succeed in our day even more than we do.

That’s the basic idea behind the Ignatian Examen. St. Ignatius Loyola would say that this should be the most important moment of our day. Why? Because this moment affects every other moment.

Specifically, How Do You Do the Examen? Ignatius provides a simple five-step routine for our daily Examen:

Give thanksgiving. I begin by giving God thanks for all the things I’m grateful for today. I allow my mind to wander as I reflect on the ways God has blessed me on this particular day. I allow big things and small things to arise—everything from the gift of my faith, to the gift of my marriage, to the easy commute to work today.

Ask for the Spirit. Next, I want to look at the moments in my day when I did not act so well. However, before doing so, I ask God to fill me with his Spirit so that the Spirit can lead me through this difficult soul-searching. Otherwise, I’m liable to hide in denial, wallow in self-pity, or seethe in self-loathing.

Review and recognize failures. (Repent) I look back at my day and ask the Lord to point out to me the moments when I have failed in big ways or small. I take a sobering look at the mistakes I’ve made this day.

Ask for forgiveness and healing. If I have sinned, I ask God to forgive me and set me straight again. If I have not sinned but simply made a mistake, I ask for healing of any harm that might have been done. I ask for help to get over it and move on. I also ask for wisdom to discern how l might better handle such tricky moments in the future.

Pray about the next day. I ask God to show me how tomorrow might go. I imagine the things I’ll be doing, the people I’ll see, and the decisions I’ll be mulling over. I ask for help with any moments I foresee that might be difficult. I especially ask for help in moments when I might be tempted to fail in the way I did today. [1]

Examen of Consciousness: The Examen of Consciousness is a simple prayer directed toward developing a spiritual sensitivity to the special ways God approaches, invites, and calls. Ignatius recommends that the examen be done at least twice, and suggests five points of prayer:

Recalling that one is in the presence of God
Thanking God for all the blessings one has received
Examining how one has lived the day
Asking God for forgiveness
Resolution and offering a prayer of hopeful recommitment
It is important, however, that the person feels free to structure the Examen in a way that is personally most helpful. There is no right way to do it; nor is there a need to go through all of the five points each time. A person might, for instance, find oneself spending the entire time on only one or two points. The basic rule is: Go wherever God draws you. And this touches upon an important point: the Examen of Consciousness is primarily a time of prayer; it is a “being with God.” It focuses on one’s consciousness of God, not necessarily one’s conscience regarding sins and mistakes.[2]

NOTE (my response)

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

Examination of conscience
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Examination_of_conscience
Footnotes:

[1] Try the Daily Examen by Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ
https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/ignatian-spirituality/examen-and-ignatian-prayer/how-can-i-pray-try-the-daily-examen?p=1

[2] Ignatian spirituality. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignatian_spirituality

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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Level: First Draft. Last revision: 11/26/2019.
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