If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know about the Examen, a prayer designed to help a person make a daily review with a focus on gratitude and openness to the Holy Spirit’s direction. This was the prayer St. Ignatius considered most important for a consistently God-ward journey.
The steps of the Examen—pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance; review the day; identify where you saw God at work and give thanks for it; identify where you could have done better; pray with a view to tomorrow’s challenges—can be custom fitted to any focus. Today, let’s focus our Examen on the Beatitudes.
Blessed are: the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’s sake.
Step 1: Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your memory over the past few months.
Step 2: Call to mind the people you encountered who were poor or mourning or meek…any people described by the Beatitudes.
As you think of these people, give thanks for them and for how they brought the Kingdom of God into your life.
Step 3: Call to mind when you were poor in spirit or mourning or meek, etc.
Ask God to help you perceive that you have been blessed in these experiences, even if they were difficult. Ask God to help you believe that these experiences open your life to God’s grace and love.
Step 4: Ask forgiveness for any time you resented or resisted the times of poverty or mourning or other beatitude experiences. Know that God already knows where you are weak or unpracticed and that everything you do is met, first of all, with God’s great mercy.
Step 5: Identify one or two beatitude experiences or qualities that you desire to nurture in your attitudes and behavior during the next few weeks. Ask for help in being open and ready to learn and grow.
Please remember that you live one moment at a time and that God gives you opportunities one moment, one decision, one action, at a time. No one lives out all the Beatitudes at one time. For instance, your beatitude experience might be mourning. Mourning can be all-consuming, and that might be your beatitude for weeks, months, a year, or longer. Allow your life to be what it is. Ask God to help you recognize the beatitude to which you are called right now, and don’t concern yourself further.