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 […]

The Wisdom App

Have you heard about the app that turns you into a happier, more grateful person, that makes you feel more balanced and peaceful, and that keeps you focused and on track every day? I sometimes call it “The Wisdom App,” even though the app’s developer originally used a different name (more on that later). The app is free, and you don’t even need a smartphone to use it. Here’s how it works: you commit to […]

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, […]

Reviewing the Feelings of Our Day

Reviewing the events of our day, either to thank God or to know our sins, is familiar enough. Reviewing the feelings that those events generate is a new approach for many people. A good way to begin is, “Lord, where have I heard your voice, and how have I responded?” Sometimes a strong emotion immediately surfaces. I was deeply saddened to get a letter from the son of an old friend telling me of her […]

The Light of Grace Is Always Shining

A couple of afternoons a week, I bring my work to a local coffee shop. It gives me a chance to get out of the home office, attack a problem in a different setting, and get a gorgeous view of Lake Washington. Sometimes I put on headphones, drowning out the coffee-shop conversation, but sometimes, I’ll keep my ears open for quirky banter. Like today, when the barista and a customer shared a candid moment, and […]

The Awareness Prayer

This post is based on Week Two of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure. What does it mean to “find God in all things”? We’re all familiar with spiritual literature that speaks of finding God in nature, in art, in the birth of a child, and in many other concrete examples of creation—most of which we take for granted. The graces we pray for each day this week of our Ignatian Prayer Adventure emphasize a much deeper […]

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 […]

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