The Ignation Way

The Daily Examen of Consciousness

Why Pray This Prayer?

By Micky Wolf

Before including the Daily Examen as part of one’s prayer, it is helpful to understand some distinguishing aspects of the Examen.  This is a brief introduction as there are a number of excellent resources available for an in depth study of this topic.

Foundational to praying the Examen is understanding it as an examen of consciousness rather than an examination of conscience.  Examining one’s conscious is to open our selves to a review of our attitudes, thoughts and recent actions.  Generally speaking, this is a process of allowing God to search our hearts with questions such as:  what am I thinking, what have I been doing, or not doing, how have my behaviors reflected my desire to behave as Jesus?  The nature of this experience is one of conviction, of having an awareness of the Lord gently and lovingly showing us the ways in which we have fallen short of the mark or have stepped into sinful choices that have been unloving of others, as well as self. 

The Examen of Consciousness, although containing this element of conviction and confession, goes beyond the intent of an examination of conscience.  This experience of prayer, often entered into near the close of the day, is one which offers the potential for a meaningful awareness of God’s presence in, through and with us.  Ignatius, inspired by the Spirit in giving us this simple outline, extends an invitation to come fully before God as we are, in the momentintellectually, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  By the prayerful examen of the whole self in this way, we become more fully aware of all that has touched and stirred us, externally and internally, throughout the day.

At first glance the elements of the Examen of Consciousness may appear too simple, however, therein lies the beauty of this prayer experience.  This simplicity, when seen as guiding rather than rigidly demanding, opens the doors of the pray-er’s heart to a new and more profound sense of God’s presence.  This self-awareness is very different from self-absorption.  It is the significance of this transformational process, through surrendering to becoming more self-aware, that the Daily Examen calls to the fore in the pray-er.

The prospect of becoming more fully self-aware may be unsettling; embarking upon the journey to discover and know the fullness of our humanity as well as beings created in the image of God, flawed and wounded temples of the Holy Spirit, can initially be an almost overwhelming challenge.  What are the strengths and gifts God has placed in me?  What are the weaknesses and failings of the darker side of my nature?  How do I discern the movements of God within me?  What are the consolations?  The desolations? The movements of the enemy of my human nature?  All of these questions and many others may arise within the praying of the Daily Examen of Consciousness.  Discovering insight or understanding as related to these questions is a process unique to each person. It is our surrender to grappling with the questions that becomes the ‘raw material’ each of us encounter and are invited by the Holy Spirit to ponder as we pray the Examen.  No two of us will have the same experience – what we will experience is the same loving, merciful, gracious and forgiving God as we join with Him in intimate, authentic prayer. 

Through our ‘yes’ in prayer, God responds in His time and plan with healing, consolation, friendship, correction, encouragement, affirmation, nurturing, direction – ALL that we could ever desire, need or imagine is available from Him.  Such an experience will be multifaceted and exceedingly dimensional; it may include great sorrow and weeping, profound joy and delight, and everything in between.  You will not be disappointed…nor will you remain the same tomorrow as today. 

May your experience of the Daily Examen of Consciousness be a blessing as you seek and discover our loving God, the one who calls you in to be-coming more fully the unique person He has created you to be. 




EXAMEN OF CONCIOUSNESS, OR PRAYER OF LOVING ATTENTION

A Method of Prayer of

St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

[In 15 minutes Move Through 5 Steps]

 

 

STEP #1:        

 

I am in God’s loving gaze, God creating me one moment at a time.

 

 

STEP #2:        

 

I thank God for graces, favors, gifts received; both my permanent gifts and gifts of this day.

 

 

STEP #3:

 

I ask Holy Spirit to enlighten my mind and heart; that Jesus' Spirit will accompany me, refresh and alert me.

 

 

STEP #4:  

 

I review how I have been living this day, this time, since I last paused to pray with loving attention.  I consider well my feelings, my affections, my moods and my inclinations, as well as my actions and inactions.

 

 

STEP #5:   

 

I prayerfully speak words of reconciliation and resolve. 

 

I end:  Our Father…

 

 

 

Adaption by Paul Panaretos, S.J.

[Formerly, Retreat Director]

Loyola of the Lakes Jesuit Retreat House

Clinton, Ohio

8 Week Ignatian Prayer Retreat

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are nearly 500 years old, relevant and timely as ever. Praying with the Exercises offers the seeker an opportunity for deepening one’s prayer life, experiencing healing, learning discernment, and
becoming more self-aware, all with the goal of growing in relationship with Jesus and loving and serving others.
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