The Examen is a window of time for prayer, where we reflect upon how we encountered others in God in the everyday. It is a simple daily prayer, with God, who offers us gifts of transforming grace. Also called the prayer of Consciousness or the prayer of Reflection in which we take a journey into the recent past, to savor the present, and to look with hope towards the future.
A PRAYER OF GRACED AWARENESS
The Examen is a prayer of graced awareness in reflecting upon encountering God’s presence and action in our everyday: to see the day as it was through the eyes of Christ; to discern the Holy Spirit’s leading direction for us; and to respond to the Father’s loving invitation for renewal and rejoicing.
“Examen comes from the Latin word that means both an examination and an active weighing or judging something. It’s as old as Socrates instruction to “know thy self.“
It’s a practice of regular self-scrutiny. Ignatius took this ancient tradition of prayer of reflection and made a way to experience God, as well as to assess our behavior.
The Examen is not a liturgical prayer, devotional prayer, intercession, or prayer with scripture. It’s not contemplation or centering prayer which is emptying our mind of images, words, or ideas. The Examen is the kind of prayer that lives in our hearts to God who does not stand apart from our lives.
Each moment offers a window into where God has been in your day. The daily examination is rather a question of asking:
How was I drawn to God today - by a friend, an event, a book, the beauty of nature?
How did I respond to God’s loving action in my life this day?
God is always present with and in us, paying detailed attention to us, waiting for us. Yet we do not consciously sense or feel His presence all the time or often notice His actions in our lives. Our soul and body - we are physically and spiritually in touch with God, always. Yet we are distracted, and at times our hearts and will are not always directed towards what are the most loving action or thoughts. God is patiently waiting for our attention, there always, desiring to help.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Rev 3:20
Extra Notes for the Examen
· Allow God to show you the day. Let Him bring up what He wants to show you.
· Review the section on what does consolation and desolation feel like, and Rule #2.
· Listen for the prompts within your intellect, will, and affect – those interior movements.
· You can also look at your thoughts, your feelings, and your actions through God's eyes.
· Was your head, heart and hands aligned.
· Remember not all the thoughts are your own; it's what you pay accept and move with.
· Best to do this when you are not tired.
· Depending upon if you are a night person or a morning person. Some people will do it early evening, or part of their night prayers, or part of their morning offerings.
Different Examples to Pray the Examen
St. Ignatius noted there were 5 steps to the prayer. You may find several different examples in books and especially in this app for your smartphone. https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/reimagining-examen-app/
My 5 Steps
Begin in stillness and silence (and possibly solitude)
1. Thanksgiving: Express gratitude for the graces received — the gift of yourself and all of who and what you encountered this day.
2. Request: Ask God to reveal the day to you, as to see it through God’s eyes.
3. Review: Examine the day in the particulars. What happened?
4. Reflect: How did you respond? When were you more of your true self? When not?
5. Seek & Rest: Ask for guidance and insight, and hope for the future.
End this time with a simple prayer or the Our Father.
An Ignatian Examen from the Office of Ignatian Spirituality
I begin in awareness of God’s presence in me and around me, and in gratitude, for the gifts, I have received this day.
I ask God to help me see one or two surprises I encountered this day, big or small, positive or negative.
In my prayerful imagination, I revisit these surprises and reflect on my response to each. I give thanks for those responses that were from God’s inspiration and ask forgiveness for those that were not.
Looking to tomorrow, I ask God for accompaniment in the surprises I encounter and help in responding to them in a life-giving way.
I attend to what my heart and soul are feeling, and I concluded by asking the God of surprises for light and hope.
The Examen: A Daily Review of Finding God in All Things
1. Call to mind something or someone for whom you are grateful.
Say a simple prayer of gratitude.
2. Invite the Holy Spirit into your memory for guidance.
Call to mind the events of the day.
3. Notice when you felt happiest, felt loved, and connected.
Say a prayer of thanksgiving.
4. Notice when you felt saddest, unloved, disconnected.
Ask for whatever is needed to bring healing/and or forgiveness to that moments.
5. Set a simple goal for yourself based on what you noticed.
What might you do or omit to make you a more loving person today?
How to Pray the Examen - Mini Version
1. Give thanksgiving for the day.
2. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the day through God's eyes; what is most important to take note of.
3. Review and reflect. Share your thoughts and feelings about what comes up.
4. Ask for help to know what God would want for you.
5. Share your concerns about tomorrow, and ask specifically for what you need.
How to Pray the Examen - Brief Version
Preparation: Here I am Lord
1. Gratitude: Thankfulness from the heart for the time.
2. Enlightenment: Ask God to show you, your day through Christ’s eyes.
3. Review: Let the day’s events, let them come to you.
4. Reflect: What do you sense God is showing you, based upon your experience in reviewing the day.
What seemed to be most important?
What insights did you learn?
What is God asking of you to do based upon what you reviewed?
Commit to following the best you can.
5. Hope: What are you concerned about for tomorrow. Ask God to help you.
Ending: Thankfulness from the heart for the time and help.
The Examen of Consciousness: of the Murphy Center for Ignatian Spirituality Fairfield University
Lord, I realize that all, even myself, is a gift from you.
Today for what things am I most grateful?
Lord, open my eyes and ears to be more honest with myself.
Today, what do I really want for myself?
Lord, show me what has been happening to me and in me this day.
Today, in what ways have I experienced your love?
Lord, I am still learning to grow in your love.
Today what choices have been inadequate responses to your love?
Lord, let me look with faith and hope towards the future.
Today, how will I let you lead me to a brighter tomorrow?
The Daily Examen: A prayerful experience of God.
How to Pray the Examen - Longer Version
Experience alone does not teach us much, it is when we reflect on our experience that we really begin to learn. The Examen can help us see God’s hand in our daily lived experience. It’s a simple prayer that has the capacity to transform our lives by helping us become more aware – of the gifts.
Preparation: Settling in. Let God know you are there.
Settle yourself to direct your attention towards God. Find a place of quiet and comfort.
Imagine placing yourself into God’s loving hands, thus letting Him know you are there just the two of you together.
“Here I am Lord”
1. Ask for God’s Assistance
Whatever condition you are in - tired, concerned, overwhelmed, rushed - ask for the grace to be there without distractions.
· Ask God to help you be honest as you look back on your day
· Ask God to show you the day through His eyes
Request for help: ______________________________________
2. Review & Give Thanks for the Gifts of the Day
For Ignatius the first and most important step in any spiritual journey is Gratitude. So we look first to remember and to name the blessings.
Let the day wash over you.
· Look at the day, look at the work you did, look at the people you interacted with. What did you receive from them? What did you give them?
· Pay attention to small things and other seemingly small pleasures. God is in the details.
· Notice any joys and delights, and focus on the day’s gifts. … be specific.
Savor what God shows you.
What were the blessings today?______________________________
3. Review the Day Again - To Reflect - To take Notice
God communicates not only through insights and thoughts (such as in reading scriptures) and also through our feelings, emotions, desires, attractions, repulsions, and moods - all are called ‘interior movements’. Remember feelings are neither positive nor negative, it is what you do with them that raises moral questions. These ‘movements’ tell you about the direction your life is going
Notice moments when you felt more fully alive, more at peace, joyful, happy, comforted, whole, or your best self, and moments when you felt closer to God. Allow some of these moments to come to mind. These are times of consolation.
Pick a moment that you now feel most grateful for and stay with it, savor it. Notice how God is drawing you to more of those experiences. Take some time to give thanks to God.
Now, remember anything that you are less grateful for or experiences that caused you to feel drained of energy, frustrated, irritated, upset, sad, alone, isolated, distressed or less than your best self.
Bring these memories before God; ask God to bring you the healing you need.
Pick one strong thought or feeling and ask God to help you understand where it came from and where it was leading you.
What was my strongest thought or feeling today ?_________________________________
Where was it leading me? Towards God? Away from God?
4. Ask for Direction
Asked the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important.
o It may involve a feeling - positive or negative.
o It may be an encounter with someone or a moment of delight or a sense of peace.
o Or it may seem something that’s rather insignificant.
What is God asking of me in this one aspect of the day?_____________________
5. Look Forward to Tomorrow with Hope
Ask God for the grace to be with you tomorrow.
Pay attention to the feelings that surface as your survey what is coming up.
Are you doubtful, cheerful, apprehensive, full of delightful or anticipation?_________
What do you think you particularly need for tomorrow: strength, energy, patience, courage? ____
Ask for that gift of grace.
What do you need God’s help with? _______________________
End with a closing prayer.
Glory Be and close with Sign of the Cross or another