Just as in business, we should take advantage of each new quarter to examine the fruitfulness of our spiritual life.
In the business world, it is standard practice to review the past quarter (3 months) and examine profits and losses. This allows the company to adjust business practices and make concrete improvements.
Have you ever thought to do the same thing for your spiritual life?
Three months is a good length of time about which we can reflect on what has passed and whether we have made any progress in our spiritual life. This is a more lengthy spiritual inventory than a daily examination, which is also recommended.
St. Francis de Sales recommends, in his Introduction to the Devout Life, to split up such an examination into four sections.
Divide it by taking your conduct towards God at one time, all that concerns yourself another time, all that concerns your neighbor, and fourthly, the examination of your passions.
In this way, you can more accurately detect areas of growth in your life. You can see if you need to improve in your life of prayer, or if being more charitable should be a priority.
After each point of examination observe wherein you have failed, and what is lacking to you, and in what you have chiefly failed, so that you may be able to explain your troubles, get counsel and comfort, and make fresh resolutions.
If you discover no improvement, try not to get discouraged and give up.
Resolve, too, that if you should seem to yourself to have made but little progress, or even to have gone back, that you will not be discouraged thereby, nor grow cool or indolent in the matter; but that, on the contrary, you will take fresh pains to humble yourself and conquer your faults, with God’s Help.
The worst thing we can do is to give up in the spiritual life. We must remain hopeful for the future and try to make concrete resolutions that are achievable.
Humility is the key to progress, and will open the door to God’s graces. The more we recognize our weaknesses, the more we will rely on God’s strength.
What are the five steps of the examen?