On the Examen

This post is based on Week Two of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure. I first encountered the Daily Examen—the five-step prayer of St. Ignatius, which aims to help one find God in all things—when I was in Malta in 2015. I had decided to take part in a 30-day silent retreat, doing the Spiritual Exercises under the guidance of a spiritual director. In this dedicated time and space of the silent retreat, it wasn’t difficult to […]

How the Examen Made Me Smile at the Mailbox

My son recently developed a new fascination with the mailbox. “Mom, how do I get a letter from me to someone else?” he asked one day with tremendous curiosity. We went through the steps: write the letter, put it in an envelope, address the envelope, and don’t forget the stamps. Then one morning my son showed me a picture he had made for his best friend that he desperately wanted to mail. It was perfect […]

Wisdom Story Examen

We are quite accustomed to hearing wisdom sayings, such as those found in the book of Proverbs or what we look for in a collection of quotations from famous people. This wisdom comes in short phrases, maybe funny or maybe profound. Perhaps we memorize it and store it away. However, the wisdom that makes its deepest impact on us is what we absorb from stories. A classic myth or fairy tale instills insight that stimulates […]

An Examen for Times of Illness

Physical illness, whether chronic or acute, can render us too distracted and exhausted to keep up with normal activities, among them prayer. Not only do pain, other discomforts, and fatigue sap our physical resources, but they also put a strain on our interior resources—our emotions, our ability to think, and our spiritual attentiveness. And yet, we are so in need of prayer when physically distressed. While ill or injured, we are likely to make mistakes, […]

An Examen at the End of a Relationship

When significant relationships come to an end, whether due to geographic distance, drifting apart, or brokenness through conflict, we have the task of integrating that relationship into our memories and identities. As Christians, we are formed to be people who exist in loving community, always reconciling mercifully with one another, but at times human limits prevent this from being possible. As we seek to make sense of where God is in broken relationships, an Examen […]

The Examen of the Future

The Examen is part of our tradition. Usually thought of in terms of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, it has emphasized watching sins and failings. That emphasis was deepened by our post-Enlightenment emphasis on rules and counting things. The whole thrust of discernment as a spirituality for the twenty-first century has parted from that. We have opened ourselves deliberately and boldly to finding how the Holy Spirit is leading us here and now. Before we get […]

The Steps of the Examen

Today let’s explore the Examen through the lens of brief reflections pertaining to each step. The steps in this version of the Examen match what is presented in A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer by Jim Manney. Ask God for light. If we attune ourselves to look and listen, we may find God present within us, all around us, and speaking to us constantly. But if we don’t bother to look, it will seem that there is […]

Becky Eldredge Explains the Examen

Becky Eldredge, dotMagis blogger and author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls, walks us through the steps of the Examen in this four-minute video. As Eldredge explains it, the steps are: Ask for the Holy Spirit’s help. Be thankful. Notice God’s presence. Notice the lack of God’s presence. Look to the future. For a peek into why Eldredge loves praying the Examen, watch her conversation with Paul Brian Campbell, SJ, here.

Stop-Sign Examen

It’s traditional to undertake the Examen in the middle of the day and just before bed, but for the last few weeks, I’ve found myself starting the day with a version of this reflective prayer. It starts as I watch yet another car blow through the stop sign at the edge of the neighborhood. Sometimes I honk; sometimes I sigh. Always, I am aware of God’s presence and grateful—as one should be at the start […]

Applying the Examen to Praying the Stations of the Cross

In a National Review interview with Kathryn Jean Lopez about his new book Station to Station: An Ignatian Journey through the Stations of the Cross, author Gary Jansen states: Everyone has time for prayer. You can pray when you’re going to the bathroom or taking a shower. You asked about stillness. Well, take one particular station with you in the shower in the morning, or to the sink while you’re brushing your teeth, and think […]

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