Sin and the Examen

Something to think about ¦ “The examen frequently identifies sin at the source of an apparently faultless failure.  It also quite consistently exonerates me from sin in any given failure.  The examen must be able to help me make that distinction: Is my experience my sin, a sin, or sin in me?  The question begs for long study by a Church plagued by narcissistic individualism.  Perhaps even more, it begs for some method of probing the Christian self, a method available to the merest beginners as well as to someone who falls in love with God again on every starry night.”

Joseph Tetlow, SJ


  1. St. Ignatius was a military person. As such he was strict and rules driven. Am I less Christian to want to follow a saint who was less “power point” in his spirituality? I want to grow every day spiritually. May God help me to find spiritual growth from an ACTS retreat.
    Please comment.

  2. May I also suggest “the sin in me” in that inherited original sin we humans carry in us and which leads to extreme despair, as St. Paul said ” I do that I wish not to do and don’t do that I must do. Who will save me…?” The answer is always Christ Jesus.

  3. A sin is always something that is wrong, period. Deliberate action against a commandment for example is always a sin.
    My sin means it is something I did, an action or thought I created or something that bad that happened because of something I did directly or indirectly. An extreme example (in Canada) would be second degree murder where an individual hits someone and that person falls and dies because of the fall.
    A sin in me is something sinful inside me such as a bad attitude or a jealousy, envy, spitefulness, etc.
    Good idea to avoid all types.

  4. Can anyone enlighten me? It seems I don’t really understand the distinction between my sin, a sin, and a sin in me. Thanks!

  5. You wrote: “The examen must be able to help me make that distinction: Is my experience my sin, a sin, or sin in me?”
    That has never occurred to me. What a difference that makes! Thank you absolutely!

  6. I was preparing my session for the confirmation candidates on prayer. As I was reflecting, the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius came to mind. I look it up on the internet and found the Examen. I used it as a meditation experience for my class. It changed my experience of Mass. It was quite a surprise as I always look forward to Mass. Not only that it changed my day. What can I read that would help me to understand and live the prayer?


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