An Examen for the Fourth Week of Lent

From Ashes to Glory - Anything Wrong?This post is part of the Lenten series “From Ashes to Glory.”

The Word

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

—Luke 18:9-14


The Examen asks us to pinpoint our failings and turn to God. What God wants of us is not sacrifice and oblation, a big religious deal. God doesn’t want a heart satisfied with itself like the Pharisee’s, closed and tight; but one that cries out because of what it does wrong, open to God, like the tax collector’s. Looking holy rarely helps anyone know God. The presence of an honestly repentant sinner helps everyone know who God really is.

1. Give Thanks. I thank God for this day, for my life, for all I am and have, and for His Word.

2. Pray for Light. I ask the Father to let me see my day as the Holy Spirit sees it, and to show me what I need to see.

3. Find God. I look at my day in the light of the Spirit.
I look at what I have done and not done.
Am I putting up with a bad habit?
Have I found God in the quiet?

4. Anything Wrong?
Have I ignored God? Have I neglected God’s gifts?
Where have I pleased others instead of pleasing God?
Where I have fallen short, I repent and offer thanks.

5. What Now?
I look forward in hope.
What am I to do now? What do I have to avoid?


How You can love me, loving Father—
You who are the storehouse of all good—
how You can love me, a stack of flaws and failings,
I struggle to know.
Yet in all my days, You have run to hug me
every time I turn away from my selfishness.
Patient Father, I beg that my sin
be like dirt on my skin
to wash away with clean repentance.
Never let sin poison the marrow of my heart,
which I hold out to You in the bright hope
that You have loved it from the start and all along.

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Joseph Tetlow, SJ
Joseph Tetlow, SJ, has spent his life sharing the message of Ignatian spirituality. His books Choosing Christ in the World and Always Discerning are considered classics of modern spirituality. Fr. Tetlow continues lecturing and writing. His latest book is Considering Jesus. He resides at Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Dallas, Texas.


  1. Thanks so much for this Lenten Retreat..especially during these days when everyone stays home due to
    the Corona Virus spreading all over the world. I cant think of no better greater blessing from the Lord than this highly inspiring, refreshing, uplifting messages from you. Words are not enough to express my deep gratitude and joy. Thanks again and God Bless..

  2. Thank you for sharing this. This simple examen is enough for me to be aware of my daily actions: taking care of my patients to glorify the Lord!

  3. It is around 3:30am here in Texas. Reading this is so inspiring. Thank you for spreading the word if God. This is the beauty of technology. As DRE of my Parish, I sent an invitation to all the parents /guardians to sign up to receive this journey of Lent. I could only invite and I am hoping they did. It has been a blessing this Lent especially for me since I am going through chemo treatments. Thanks and God bless.

    • God bless you, Diana, for your Spirit-filled outreach to the parents/guardians of those children and young adults whose growth in faith your direct as DRE. And, I pray that your chemo treatments are effective this Lent, leading to an added joy-filled Easter.


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