How to dig deep by praying the Examen
• I’m not as anxious about that daunting task at the office.
• I’m worried about our finances.
• I’m spending more and more time on useless web browsing.
• I’m clinging too tightly to owning ____, when perhaps God or my life circumstances call me to let it go.
• I’m getting older and am not admitting it to myself.
• I’m not as bad at ___ as I think I am.
• Despite my pessimism, things are turning out OK.
5. When I have settled on the most important inner truth, I let go of all of the others and simply have a conversation with God about this one reality in my life. I summarize it in one simple statement such as one of the examples above, and I make that statement over and over again to God, letting its reality and existence sink in and not hide again.
6. I note what emotions I am feeling as I make this statement to God. What is the strongest emotion that I feel as I name this truth to God? I now add this to my statement. For example, “Lord, I feel ____ as I admit that ____.” I let myself steep in that emotion for a while and I keep presenting to God both the truth and its accompanying emotion.
7. I get really quiet now and try to detect if God is trying to say or do something about this reality. How does God feel about this truth? How does God feel about how I feel? If I feel called to do so, I listen for God’s message to me or I await his touch on my heart. I ask God, “What is it you would have me do about this? How should this truth affect who I am?” I listen for what might be an answer from God.
8. If I feel called to do so, I make a commitment to God about this. I ask God for help to be faithful to my commitment.
9. I end in my usual way.*
* I recommend that you slowly develop unique and personal rituals for beginning and ending your Examen. Some people begin the Examen with a recitation of a formulaic prayer such as the Our Father, with the singing of a simple song such as “Amazing Grace,” or with the repetition of a favorite line from Scripture. Others bow to their prayer spot as a way of declaring this a sacred space. Catholics usually begin with the sign of the cross. Many find it helpful to begin by taking some slow, deep breaths. All of these examples could also be rituals for ending one’s Examen. The idea is to have a simple, short, prayerful way to enter this experience and a similarly helpful way to close it and get back to the day’s tasks.
This Examen is excerpted from Reimagining the Ignatian Examen: Fresh Ways to Pray from Your Day by Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ. Used with permission of Loyola Press.
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