This is a guest post by Joseph Tetlow, SJ, in his Lenten series “From Ashes to Glory.”
In the second step of the Examen, we ask for light. Our minds are limited in what we can grasp, and our memories are limited in what we can retain. We can easily forget or misremember what we did, felt, and thought—especially something that we want to forget. So we need His light if we are to grow in God’s service.
When we ask God for light, we are asking to know as God knows: good, bad, up, down, all of it. A good prayer is to ask the Father to let me know myself the way the Holy Spirit knows me, “for the Spirit searches the depths of everything, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).
God does everything to bring us light. In our turn, each of us must get ready to accept God’s illumination. One important way to get ready for God’s light is to pray to be unafraid of what we see.
We can ask God to shed light on our routines and habits. Is a good habit growing stronger? Is a certain habit more harmful than I admit? We need our usual ways of doing things. Without routines we’d take all day just to have breakfast. At the same time, almost any habit can either enable our freedom or impede our freedom. We have to watch.
And habits can turn into harmful attachments. We can hold on to things or ideas so tightly that we are no longer really free. So we beg God for light to see when an attachment is leading us to sin. God sees it for what it is; we ask to share that insight.
Finally, when we ask for light, we need to be ready to accept what God gives us.