I was reviewing some recent posts on the dotMagis site. Joseph Tetlow’s “Examen of the Future” is presented and discussed here. I don’t find the Ignatian Examen to be as much a problem in content or its vector as much as it is a challenge for my personal discipline.
That said, this encounter with the Holy Spirit caught my eye:
Here is the proper matter for the Examen in the twenty-first century: all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Take the first gifts of faith, hope, and love. Spend a day or a week—or a longer time if you are weak in it—practicing that virtue. Then patiently work through wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude (courage), piety, knowledge, and fear of the Lord.
A number of years ago, as I was looking at the seven virtues, I found myself drawn to prudence. It seemed too easy I was chiding (sometimes privately in my mind, sometimes not) others for being imprudent. It seemed to me that I was being nudged to look at that virtue more carefully. Fr Tetlow suggests a week. I needed considerably more time.
As for those first gifts: I spent the better part of another year praying for them. I would take this prayer:
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
And kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And you will renew the face of the earth.
And substituting in that second line me and my close family members for each of the virtues I perceived we needed the most:
Kindle in me the fire of your love,
Kindle in (my wife) the fire of your hope,
Kindle in (the young miss) the fire of your faith.
Love is probably my weak spot in these three. Still. I can’t guarantee my diagnosis of the other people, but you get the drift. As a musician, I often substitute harmonizations when I accompany a single singer, or when I arrange a tune for an ensemble of voices and/or instruments. I do it on occasion in the spiritual life, too.
As Ignatian sites have wrapped their 31 Days of Ignatius, it strikes me that the Father of the Jesuits would be more pleased to see attention given to the other 334 days of the year, and the cultivation of the Examen, the virtues, the spiritual fruits, or whatever we disciples found most wanting or lacking in our lives.