In his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius urged that all be taught the Examen, a daily prayerful reflection on our responses to the events of the day. The purpose of this reflection was to see God's presence and to discern God’s direction for us. Ignatius believed that the key to a healthy spirituality is to find God in all things and to work constantly to cooperate with God’s will.
Our responses to daily events fall into two categories: our consolations (what connects us with God, others, and ourselves) and desolations (what disconnects us). Ignatius believed that God would speak to us through these two feelings.
The Examen helps us:
- Acknowledge sad or painful feelings and hear how God is speaking to us through them.
- Overcome a pessimistic outlook by encouraging us notice the good in each day.
- Tell the truth about who we truly are and what we need, rather than who we think we should be.
- Become aware of seemingly insignificant moments that ultimately can give direction for our lives.
Try it out:
The Prayer of Examen takes about fifteen minutes, and involves three parts. Find a place you can relax and be comfortable. You may want to light a candle to remind you of the presence of God with you.
- Ask God to bring to your awareness the moment today for which you are most grateful.
- If you could relive one moment, which one would it be?
- When were you most able to give and receive love today?
- Ask yourself what was said and done in that moment that made it so good.
- Breathe in the gratitude you felt and receive life again from that moment.
- Ask God to bring to your awareness the moment today for which you are least grateful.
- When were you least able to give and receive love?
- Ask yourself what was said and done in that moment that made it so difficult.
- Relive the feelings without trying to change or fix it in any way.
- Take deep breaths and let God’s love fill you just as you are.
- Give thanks for whatever you have experienced. If possible, share as much as possible of these two moments with a friend. It is also helpful to record your thoughts in a journal. Rereading these notes will help you see God’s grace at work in your life even when things seemed impossible.