This post is a part of the Lenten series “From Ashes to Glory.”
The prayer of the Examen rests on a profound and perilous belief: the Father’s will is greater than my own. I accept the reality that His will, not mine, will decide what I must do and who I am to be in life. Hence, I will grow into my authentic self not by enacting the many desires that I absorb from the world around me. Rather, I become my true self by enacting those desires that God is raising in me and none that go against them. I accept this, humbly.
Jesus of Nazareth did this. In His Passion Christ’s authentic self was not being destroyed; it was being realized and made real. We know that because He has risen from the dead. But we must remember that while they were murdering Him, Jesus could only trust the Father.
The Examen, most directly of all programs of prayer, is the one that helps us know and accept God’s will in its details. The prayer is humble: we are acknowledging that God’s will is to be done. We check the Commandments. We harken to Jesus’ admonitions. We find where the Spirit in us is closing down a vice or opening up a virtue.
The Examen makes that possible and fruitful. I pray, and then I examine myself, my awareness, my conscience, my habits, my virtues—always in what I am enacting. When I do that steadily, I get closer to knowing how to do God’s will, even if I am to imitate the crucified Jesus.