Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Examen-- a good practice to start in Advent!

What is the Daily Examen?

It is a form of prayer, recommended by the spiritual exercise of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, whereby we review our day's activities in the presence of the Lord, with an eye toward resolve in doing better the next day, as well as thanking for "what we got right" on this day.  The examen is a little bit like an examination of conscience* that you might use before you might go to confession, but its different in that its not completely focused on where you have erred or sinned. It also is a time of thanksgiving and gratitude for a day well spent.

For me, whom by temperament tends toward the negative with regards to myself and my progress, the examinations of conscience (like before a confession) would leave me pretty defeated and in need of the Sacrament very quickly. Whereby, the Daily Examen is a kinder, gentler form of examen for us hard-on-ourselves types.  What's more, there can be a lot of joy in it.  And thinking of Ignatius, a very powerful saint, I think I'd like to take his advice, and do something that he recommends.

This is a version of the five-step Daily Examen that St. Ignatius practiced.
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow. 
Here's a few ideas on the above.

Here is a whimsical-yet-profoundly-true definition I like that I found over at
Fr. Dennis Hamm, SJ, a scripture professor at Creighton University, calls the Daily Examen “rummaging for God.” He likens it to “going through a drawer full of stuff, feeling around, looking for something that you are sure must be there.” That’s an accurate description of what it’s like to pray the Daily Examen. We look back on the previous day, rummaging through the “stuff,” and finding God in it. We know he is there.

*However, if you were looking to prepare before Confession and the Sacrament of Reconcilation, here is An examination of conscience that may prove useful, as it is build around The Commandments.

1 comment:

  1. I love doing the Examen prayer. It's a great way to take stock and stay aware of what's moving in your heart and what, throughout the day, has been motivating/hindering you in your spiritual goals. I must for every catechist I think.


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