Weekly Examen: The Examen Prayer
Like many of the mothers and fathers of our faith, St. Ignatius of Loyola (16th century) cared deeply for the formation and health of one’s spiritual life and journey. Whether it be in community or in solitude Ignatius encouraged others to talk with Christ and to foster a relationship of honesty, vulnerability and reflection. The following practice is called The Examen where one simply pauses to prayerfully reflect on your week with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
We invite you to set this prayer as a weekly rhythm every Saturday. Taking the same amount of time as you would for your regular Lectio Divina practice -- pause, sit and review the experiences of this past week.
The Examen practice (or prayer) is a progression of reflections, steps, or movements (see below) that like a magnifying glass allow you to see yourself and the activity of God more clearly as you retrace your week. As one author puts it,
"we are searching for the ripples of the divine that radiate throughout the ordinary."
As you give yourself to the Examen practice both joyful (consolation) and painful (desolation) moments from your week will surface. Take notice of what you’re feeling and sensing, and when the pain filled moments speak, lean in. For what the Holy Spirit may be initiating could be the gentle work where healing, transformation, clearing, or wholeness is taking place. Trust God’s love.
"Real prayer is about change, and change is never easy." - Jim Manney
Each Saturday you will find the following list on the top of the page. You will have the front and back page to write your reflection as you give yourself to the Weekly Examen.
- Become aware of the presence of God and His love for you.
- Review the week with gratitude.
- While asking yourself the following questions, be attentive to what you’re feeling or to what you’re thinking:
- Where in your week did you experience consolation; joy, comfort, peace, etc?
- Where in your week did you experience desolation; sadness, frustration, failure, etc?
- As you become attentive to your desolation what sadness, frustration, or failure might you need to confess? Where might you need to receive forgiveness?
- With hope, look toward tomorrow. What newness would the Holy Spirit be inviting you into?
is an experience that causes you to feel fully alive, at peace, joyful, happy, comforted, whole, connected, your best self, etc. and could be understood as an experience in which you feel close God.
is an experience that causes you to feel drained of energy, frustrated, irritated, angry, sad, sorrowful, alone, isolated, unaccepted, fragmented, less than your best self, etc. and could be understood as an experience in which you feel far away from God.
"The tricky thing about desolation is that even though it is an uncomfortable and sometimes distressing experience and we may feel as if God is far away, God is still very near. So the gift is praying with the desolation, telling God about your experience and asking for God’s grace in the experience. (It is also good to give God thanks for the consolation experiences.) God shows up in desolations AND consolations. It’s just that it’s easier to “experience” God in consolations and we often move away from God in desolations."