Variations on an Examen

Only one of my spiritual directors ever suggested I do a daily examen. With such a rousing endorsement, I never found my way into the practice. Or the practice never found its way to me.

In my recent reading on Ignatian spirituality, I’m finding it comes up everywhere. And amazingly enough, it seems the practice has found me.

The Jesuits practice it twice a day. My deacon friend recommended once before bed, but I fall asleep too easily that time of day. And like nearly all spiritual disciplines, most people urge that specific time every day to do it. But an amazing thing has happened. I’ve been practicing the past two weeks now, but at different times during the day, and sometimes even more than twice. I’ve found that the invitation to reflect has been happening at the oddest hours. Unless I’m deeper in resistance than I think (which is always a possibility) once, twice, or three times a day I have an opportunity to look backward and pray. And it seems to work on something like this:

  1. Exit the day and get ready.
  2. The simplest prayer I can muster along the lines of “God, let me see.” The fewer words the better.
  3. I imagine a timeline and scan the events of the last several hours, from where I left off last time.
  4. My attention is drawn to one or two times, and I spend more time there pondering if my behavior was “of Christ/not of Christ.”
  5. Silent reflection.
  6. Gratitude.

Of course, as I write this out, it occurs to me I’ve forgotten when my last examen was yesterday. Usually I’ve been good about putting up signposts to recall. Probably tells me it’s time to do another examen. So if you’ll excuse me …

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to Variations on an Examen

  1. claire46 says:

    I very much like your ‘God let me see’ and your idea of signposts.
    Thank you.

  2. It is a good idea and one I came to for very similar reasons. One of the Jesuit rules is that the rules should get you to God – so change them if necessary.

  3. crystal says:

    I do thid before I go to bed each night – sometimes do fall asleep in the middle :)

  4. Eric says:

    I do like how you’ve described how to do it – “quick and dirty” (but powerful)prayin’! ;-)

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