The Examen, “Looking for God in All Things”
The heart of the Examen is reviewing your day.
“Think of it as a movie playing in your head,” writes James Martin, S.J., in The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything. “Push the play button and run through your day, from start to finish, from your rising in the morning to preparing to go to bed at night. Notice what made you happy, what made you stressed, what confused you, what helped you be more loving. Recall everything: sights, sounds, feelings, tastes, textures, conversations. Thoughts, words, and deeds, as Ignatius says. Each moment offers a window to where God has been in your day.”
And remember that no experience is too trivial for spiritual investigation.
“Nothing in our lives is so insignificant that it doesn’t deserve God’s attention,” notes Jim Manney in A Simple Life-Changing Prayer, a book about the Examen. “In fact, the mundane and the humdrum parts of our lives give depth and texture to our relationships with God. Washing the windows and cooking dinner are as much a part of the relationship as graduation day. If it’s part of our human experience, God is in it.”
The Examen is a faith practice for sizing up your days — and planting the seeds for a more purposeful life.
Using the faith practice of the EXAMEN, helps us become increasingly sensitive to God’s action in our lives. Be intentional as you work the examen, learning how to make decisions that reflect God’s indwelling presence in the innermost freedom of your heart. You will find that practicing the Examen regularly bears fruit in the form of life direction. After even a few months of this kind of prayerful reflection, patterns appear and God’s leading becomes clearer.
We will us the practice of The Examen, in every small group. Follow these directions:
- Sit quietly and relax. Light a candle if you’d like.
- Think back over the last 24 hours. You can use one of these questions as a guide:
- For what moment today am I most grateful?
- What experience of the day felt most life-giving to me?
- When today did I feel most contented, most like myself?
- When did I sense God’s presence most fully today?
- Think again through the last day and look for your moment of desolation. You can use one of these questions as a guide:
- For what moment today am I least grateful?
- What experience of the day drained life from me?
- When today did I feel the most discontented, uncomfortable, and the least like myself?
- When did God seem absent in my life today?
- Spend a moment in prayer, thanking God for the grateful things mentioned and ask for support in the places where you need support.