The Daily Examen
I believe it was in grad school where I was first exposed to Ignatian Spirituality. Since then, through multiple Ignatian retreats, reading, experiencing and exploring Ignatian Spirituality as the focus of my doctoral dissertation I am hooked! One of my favorite practices Ignatius of Loyola is known for is the Daily Examen. Not to long ago I shared a post enabling you to download your own MP3 of the Examen. If you didn't get a chance to see it, I invite you to do it now. In this post I simply want to continue my encouragement to end your day with the Examen in whatever form you choose - listening and reflecting or praying through the points of The Examen below.
As we create space our goal isn't to accomplish a task but to cultivate our relationship with Christ.Dr. Eric Haskins
As in all experiences that help us to create space, our goal isn’t to accomplish a task but to cultivate our relationship with Christ. With that in mind, realize the Examen is a beautifully simple way to help us discern our awareness and interactivity with God throughout the day.
We begin the Examen by settling down from the frenzied pace of our day. We intentionally seek to be aware of God’s presence with us. With the typical pace of life nowadays this first movement is an important step towards creating space with the Examen.
Knowing we are loved and invited we approach God not out of fear, or shame but out of a thankful heart for the grace and life we have, and will receive. Think of how often in the Scriptures, the people of God are encouraged to “remember” the works of God. Remember, how God has protected and provided for them. Remember, how they are loved and who God is guiding them to become. Throughout the New Testament, there is an overwhelming sense of thankfulness and gratitude, for all that God has, is and will do, from which we are challenged to emulate and share. As you think back on your day, what are you most thankful for? Simply express your gratitude to God.
At this place in the Examen, in the loving presence of God (first movement) and with a renewed sense of God’s grace filled goodness (second movement), we are ready to prayerfully review our day. This review is anything but a cold looking back on our day with regret. Rather we seek a growing awareness of our interaction with God throughout the day. Over the course of this day where did you most fully cooperate with God’s activity in your life? Where did you resist? Why?
Up to this point in the Examen, we have looked back on our day and with God’s grace and help have gleaned spiritual insight into where God’s presence has been and to what degree we have moved in the flow of God’s grace and love. Each day, through the Examen, we bring ourselves to this potentially transformative place before God. Movement five leads us into tomorrow with a focused intention to seek God’s grace and presence, as we continue the cooperative journey with Jesus.
Being fully aware of God’s presence, grace and love, we conclude this time of open, soulful discovery with a commitment to live tomorrow in light of the discoveries of today, with and by God’s empowering grace. We are committing and choosing to “work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in [us] to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
The Examen With . . .
The Examen can easily adapted to be used with a family around the dinner table or at bed time.
• Moment of silence then pray.
• What is one thing you would like to thank God for today?
• Where did God seem closest and/or furthest from you today?
• What can we pray for today about tomorrow?
The Examen also can be easily shared as part of a small group or community worship experience.
• Spend 5 minutes journeying through the movements of the Examen. One minute for each movement, with one minute left over to allow opportunity for people to capture and/or share their reflections.
• During a meeting simply ask, “Where have you seen God this week?