HomedotMagisExamenSeeing Goodness and Grace

Seeing Goodness and Grace

woman paying bills

This post is based on Week Two of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure.

Toilet paper? Tax bills and late payments? Finding God in all things isn’t always easy. The Examen helps me see goodness and grace. To get me started, I use a formula learned from a holy friend: God, I come before you, knowing you love me and cherish me, enlighten and guide me. I embrace you, oh God. You live and grow in me.

With these words I invite God’s Holy Spirit to be revealed to me. My faith says God is always present, even when I don’t feel it. Come, Holy Spirit!

Next, I launch into at least three gratitude statements. I may start with distant things, like tropical orchids, snowy mountains, and shadowy clouds. For an entire year I kept a written log of these, and rereading pages at random invariably makes me smile. I wrote “pictures, pirates, and grandchildren” on one day and “safe travels, laundry done, and central heating systems” on another. Yes, I believe God is infinite, present in the silliest, smallest, and most significant aspects of life, from parts of atoms to beyond any multiverse. Often my list of gratitude leads me directly into noticing prominent features of my day.

I choose bedtime to review the day, despite the self-discipline it takes to avoid temptations to go straight to sleep. One strategy I use is staying seated on the edge of my bed. When I try to pray with my head on the pillow, invariably sleep overtakes my prayer. Is this God blessing me with what I need most or me failing at my prayer commitment? My Examen needs an Examen!

A wise Jesuit years ago taught me about a particular Examen, which is a way of asking God to help me look at one particular aspect of my life and to pray about where I’ve seen God in that corner. For example, I can look back over my last week of praying the Examen. What stands out? I was sick, so the shorter Examens on Monday and Tuesday were self-care. By Wednesday I was better, but I still shortened my Examen. Jesus, I regret doing that now. I didn’t make sufficient time for you. I hope, with your grace, to do better.

As I examine my Examen practice, I notice that starting with gratitude has been easy of late. I am grateful that we haven’t run out of toilet paper this week, and that we even have this invention. I’m grateful for the grace of humility to admit my error on the tax bill and the deserved late payment.

I am deeply grateful for God inviting me to have an Examen time at all. It’s one of God’s concrete calls to me. As I close my evening Examen, my goal is to end with the words of Jesus on the Cross: “Into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

I get into bed and lay down. Because I have tinnitus, I regularly hear my own heartbeat. I imagine that my pillow is Christ’s chest, and the heartbeat I hear is his. I repeat, “Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit.” Sleep welcomes me into her realm. I’m out like a light.

Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. Your just wonderful at reflecting on what you experience during your day, and trying to help all who search for God. I’m very grateful for people like you who share how they see God in all things.

  2. “Into Your Hands I commend my spirit.” On Ash Wednesday my daughter (and her husband) received the worst new an expectant mother-to-be could receive from her doctors about her unborn child. I will spare you the details. Life was to be very short for this unique child. What we did learn in that moment and in the week that followed, was that God’s grace was all around. Faced with the most difficult of choices, my daughter and her husband chose the uncertainty of placing themselves and their unborn child’s spirit in God’s hands. Mercifully and in God’s time – just a few days later, God chose to bring the Littlest Angel home into the loving arms of the Almighty. To see such Faith lived out by one’s own child – “Into Your Hands I commend our Spirits” have a whole new meaning. Words cannot express the deep joy at the Faith and acceptance that was present in our daughter and her husband in the first week of Lent. Thank you again Loretta for your unique words of wisdom.

  3. I often thank God for warm showers and indoor plumbing. I recently spent several days in a hotel with a very low toilet and couldn’t wait to get home to my ADA height toilet. Often when I’m in a hotel I am anxious to get home to my comfortable home and bathroom, and I think about how many people would love to be able to spend several days in a nice hotel. How spoiled I am! While I sit in my nice warm, safe home, I pray for all the people in Nashville who lost their homes in yesterday’s awful tornado. I have so many blessings!!

  4. Being that I live in a cold climate, I find myself being grateful for centeral heating. I ask God to help me not grumble about the cold when I am out in it.

  5. I love what you said about imagining your pillow as Christ’s chest! What a vivid reminder of God as our Heavenly Father who always wants us to come to Him.


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Loretta Pehanich
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