One of the great graces of campus ministry is mentoring young student leaders. Recently, one of them was describing concern over a (perceived) character flaw that seemed to be an obstacle to effective ministry. I suggested adapting the Ignatian Examen. This was slightly dangerous, as I don’t feel I have a full integration of the Examen in my own life. But I have been trained to reflect on ministry experiences. This is how I suggest it might go for a music director:
After Mass, perhaps with the distance of a few hours: before bed on Saturday or Sunday (after an evening Mass) or Sunday afternoon (after a Sunday morning liturgy) take some time with the experience. Call upon God’s presence, and place yourself in a mode of prayer–not a performance review.
Move slowly through the sequence of events, and find at least one instance for which you are grateful.
Then call upon the Holy Spirit to open your awareness to the past several hours.
Start before you might think it began: when you were home packing an instrument or printed music, when you were leaving the house, when you were driving or walking to church.
Reflect on your arrival in an empty church. You might have prayed, set up music, stands, and other things. Picture yourself going through these events.
As people began to arrive, choir members, accompanists, then early parishioners, think back to these times of preparation and rehearsal and visualize them as much as you are able.
Bring a special focus to the Mass. Look to one particular moment of grace or awareness that might have happened during Mass.
As you move to the minutes after liturgy, reconnect with a sense of thankfulness. Move into a dialogue with the Lord Jesus, the one you have encountered and received in the Eucharist. There might be one concern to bring: a need for forgiveness, a nudge of guidance, managing difficult a relationship. Bring this to the Lord as you conclude the Examen with minutes of honest dialogue.