Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Examen Prayer

St. Ignatius of Loyola founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) had taught his fellow brothers to examine their lives daily, so that they may see if they were growing spiritually and moving towards God, as to better serve Him. The key to a healthy spiritual life was to first, find God in all things, and then work constantly to gain the freedom to cooperate with God's will. He developed the Examen Prayer which is a daily reflection, (maybe twice daily), in which one could examine oneself and see if one was cooperating with God's will by reviewing the actions of that particular day. It is a daily review in which we see how Christ like we really are. I believe that St. Ignatius was on to something. he recognized the connection between how we feel and where we are spiritually. This is very important today because there is much evil going on disguised as good feelings. Like any spiritual exercise the first and foremost thing is to make time. Most people feel that at the end of the day is a good time to survey what has taken place, others find different times more conducive. The specific time is not important, but making time is. The are five simple steps (about which much has been written)but here is my "in a nutshell" version 1. Become aware of God's presence - realize how God looks upon you with love. 2. Look at your day with gratitude. If you are careful in the details you will see God's immense love for you and you cannot help but feel gratitude. 3. Petition the Holy Spirit, ask Him for insight and strength that His grace will enable you to make a good Examen. 4. Review your day. When did you fail? When did you love? Investigate your feelings to determine what thoughts and feelings came from God and what didn't. 5. Reconcile & resolve. Ask for forgiveness, that God's loving heart will remove your burdens. Transition back to your awareness of being in God's presence and conclude your Examen. That is the basic outline. A very good book I would recommend is by Father Timothy Gallagher, OMV (interestingly he is not a Jesuit) is The Examen Prayer, Ignatian Wisdom for Our Lives Today. Incorporating the Examen in your life can go a long ways towards growing spiritually, knowing and loving God. As we approach the time of Lent and reflection this another good thing you can add to your list of things.

1 comment:

Ben Robie said...

If you want a good place to journal your examen prayers, visit Examen.me and set up an account. It is a great resource for the Prayer of Examen as well as other "examens".