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A Treasury of Arkansas Writers Discussing the Catholic Faith
Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: March 19, 2022
By Betsy Wiederkehr Huss
Blessed Sacrament Church, Jonesboro
The Church celebrates St. Ignatius of Loyola’s 500th canonization anniversary this month. Inspired by this and his life, I investigated his prayer, the Examen. St. Ignatius, a founder of the Society of Jesus, required Jesuits to pray this five-step practice twice daily. So, how does this 15-minute check-in on one’s day-to-day stuff of life hopefully remind us of and reorient us to God and God’s presence?
The Examen, according to Jim Manny, author of “A Simple, Life- Changing Prayer,” states, “It treats every moment of every day as a blessed time when God can appear.” The Ignatian Spirituality website (ignatianspirituality.com) states, “The Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us.” So, how do we go about developing this reflective 15-minute habit? By regularly praying through the five steps of the Examen. By doing this, we hope to attune to God’s presence in life and to grow more responsive to God’s leading in our lives.
The headings of the five steps may vary slightly between sources, but the basic premise is like the following, as found in “Reimagining the Ignatian Examen: Fresh Ways to Pray from Your Day” by Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ. “Give thanksgiving”: Let your mind wander through your day and ask God to reveal gifts and graces given. Thank God for the big and small ways God has blessed you.
By regularly praying through the five steps of the Examen, we hope to attune to God’s presence in life and to grow more responsive to God’s leading in our lives.
“Ask for the Spirit”: Ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and to see moments when life did not go so well. May you see those times through God’s merciful love for you.
“Review and recognize failures”: In your imagination, relive good or bad significant moments of your day. Were there difficult ones, missed opportunities when you could have acted in a more Christian manner but did not? Did someone hurt you? “Ask for forgiveness and healing”: If you sinned, ask for God’s forgiveness, healing mercy and help to be better. If you made mistakes, ask for healing of any harm you did. Ask for wisdom to discern how to handle such moments in the future better.
“Pray about the next day”: Opportunities and challenges; Ask God to show what kind of person God calls you to be tomorrow and what graces you need to be that person. This prayer is like seeing your last 24 hours as a movie and looking for where you see God among your everyday actions and gamut of emotions and responses.
It is not an examination of conscience or a lengthy meditation but more like a quick highlights reel of your day with its joys and defeats, surprises and complications, sin and virtues and things that make you crazy or laugh or cry. But mostly, it is about recognizing God and realizing these encounters with God are happening throughout our day. It also involves figuring out who God is calling us to be and how we will respond. So, if we choose to pray the Examen daily, our lives will be impacted, and we might realize day by day we are growing closer and in union with God and God’s plan for our lives. By incorporating this prayer practice of the Church into our lives, may we be better able to see God’s blessings and experience God’s graces and be grateful for them and God.
Betsy Wiederkehr Huss has a master’s degree in theology and has been involved in ministry to all ages for 40 years. Betsy and her husband Martin are studying in the diocese’s diaconate formation program.