The daily Examen was created more than 400 years ago by Saint Ignatius Loyola. It is a form of daily prayer based on the Ignatian principle of finding God in all things. The Examen helps us to reflect on each day as we try to recognise God’s presence and discern where God is calling us. As Christians we’re challenged to listen to God’s gentle voice through the experiences of our daily lives, finding God in relationships and events which shape each day. The goal of this prayerful reflection is to recognise God’s presence in all things and to pray for the grace and freedom to surrender to God’s will.
- Become aware of God’s presence.
- Review the day with thanksgiving.
- Pay attention to our emotions.
- Choose one feature from the day and pray for it.
- Look forward to tomorrow.
We place ourselves in God’s presence asking for the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us to honestly look at our daily lives. As we recall all the events and our actions from the past day, we seek an understanding of how we have responded to God’s promptings. Where is Holy Spirit at work in our lives and how have answered his call?
“Jesus is the everlasting “today” of God. This is how the newness of God appears to all of us: as victory over everything that crushes life and makes it seem less human. Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness…and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive!” ― Pope Francis, The Church of Mercy
In this moment of prayer, we review the ebb and flow of this day, we give thanks to God for all the opportunities which have shaped our lives. God can often be found in the bits and pieces of life; may we learn to appreciate all we have received in spirit of humble thanksgiving. ‘The Christian life is above all the grateful response to a generous Father. Gratitude is a characteristic trait of the heart visited by the Holy Spirit; to obey God we must first remember his benefits.’ -Pope Francis General Audience 27th June 2018
We pray for an openness to the Spirit of God present in our lives as we reflect on the emotions and feelings which arose in our hearts. Without analysing what we felt we simply remember and recognise the emotions which surfaced, such as boredom, fear, resentment, anger, peace, contentment, impatience, hope, regret, shame, uncertainty, compassion, pride, rage, doubt, confidence, shyness. The examen is meant to be an honest and personal meeting God as we begin to realize some changes which must be made. Especially what one area of our lives is God calling us to change. ‘The important thing is that each believer discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts, rather than hopelessly trying to imitate something not meant for them.’- Pope Francis Gaudete et Exsultate
What prayer springs from our hearts? How have the emotions we experienced directed us to pray? Paying attention to the movement of our hearts do we need to ask for help, forgiveness or healing? Are we stirred by feelings of joy and the desire to give thanks? Or do we recognise the need to pray for strength and courage to be more generous in answering God’s invitation to respond to his call.
‘Let us listen once more to Jesus, with all the love and respect that the Master deserves. Let us allow his words to unsettle us, to challenge us and to demand areal change in the way we live. Otherwise, holiness will remain no more than an empty word.’- Pope Francis
In the light of our prayer what changes do we need to make, what actions do we need to undertake. Where is God’s Spirit calling us and what gifts do require to respond to that call with more faith, honesty, humility, and courage. As a disciple where and how is God calling me through the events of each day. At the close of this prayer, ask for God’s grace for the following day. ‘Try to do so by listening to God in prayer and recognising the signs that he gives you. Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its place in the mission you have received. Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world.’ – Pope Francis
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding and my entire will.
Take, all I have and call my own.
Because, whatever I have or hold, you have given.
So, I return it all to you and surrender it.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.
St. Ignatius of Loyola more than four hundred years ago, created the Daily Examen as a way of bringing each day before God. The Examen invites us to reflect on how God has been present in each day, especially through the events we experience and the people we meet. This is our chance to realise that God is not out there in the far beyond but can be found instead in the middle of our lives. There is nothing to great or too small that we can’t bring before God. Prayer is a time to reconnect with God, to come face to face with the God who loves us and wants us to know his involvement in our lives. As we recognise how Jesus walks with us, we open up about our hopes and dreams, our hurts and failings. This is a chance to ask how we have honestly responded to the God who is calling upon us to use our time, talents and personality to answer his call and walk the path which allows us to be the person God created us to be.
- Beginning Prayer
- Pray for a “Spirit of truth.”
- Forgiveness & Renewal
Take a few moments to rest easy and quiet down, to discover how God has walked with you every step of the way during this day, and to open yourself to God’s friendship. Can you accept that each day is a gift from God, a time and space to grow, love and to challenge and wrestle with your hopes and dreams. Imagine God’s friendship, the God who in The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirt wants you to know the joy of being truly loved and accepted for who you are. ‘God’s love is boundless… All our life is placed under the gaze of the God Who loves us. How many pages of the Sacred Scripture speak to us of God’s presence, closeness and tenderness for every person, especially for the smallest, the poor and the troubled! The greater our need, the more His gaze upon us is filled with mercy. He feels compassion and pity towards us because He knows our weaknesses.’- Pope Francis
Observe your day, moment by moment and hour by hour, recognising the opportunities and challenges which moulded your day. Can you give thanks for the people and encounters which have shaped your day? Ask yourself: What do I notice? What feelings or thoughts do I connect with the past day or week?Help me to be aware of how God worked in and around me today. How I responded to God’s voice calling me. Can I pray for help to listen and hear the voice of the Spirit speaking through the routine of each day? Can I learn to appreciate the wonder of the person God created me to be? “You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves.” – St. Francis de Sales
Pray for honesty as you search through the past day and recall your words and actions. Think about where you experienced God’s presence during this time. What feelings and emotions did you experience in your dealings with others: peace, love, joy, compassion, anger, frustration, hurt, kindness or forgiveness. You might ask:
How am I feeling right now? Why?
Is this leading me to God or away from God?
Where was God present to me today?
‘Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort me and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.’ -St. Patrick
In light of what you experienced today, ask, how have you have tried to respond to or avoid God’s presence? What got you down, what made you happy? Recognise the occasions when you got frustrated or times when you felt contented. Can you name the times and occasions when you were there for others, when you reached out to help, a word of kindness or an act of generosity? What barriers prevented you from helping others, from respecting others or yourself. What do I need to express sorrow about, where have I struggled to be helpful or patient? In the heat of the day was I able to recognise God’s presence and appreciate all his gifts.
To your enemy — forgiveness,
To your opponent – tolerance.
To a friend — your heart.
To a customer — service.
To all people — charity.
To every child — a good example
To yourself — respect
Aware of what’s happening in your life, conscious of your thoughts and feelings, mindful of your successes or failings: image having face-to-face meeting with Jesus. What would you say to him, what would you ask for? Would it be thanksgiving, forgiveness, support or reassurance? What do you need to hear from Jesus? A word of guidance, a sense of acceptance and healing, an awareness of his ever-caring presence? Can you place yourself and all the people you’re met today in God’s hands, allowing Jesus to guidance you towards true happiness and peace? You are loved as a child of God and precious in his sight, listen to his voice calling you to become the person you were created to be.
Each new day is a new beginning-
to learn more about ourselves
to care more about others,
to laugh more than we did,
to accomplish more than we thought we could,
and be more than we were before.