Examen -The Prayer of

There are generally 5 steps to the daily Examen, this link will take you to a fuller explanation

Praying the Prayer of Examen

1. Become aware of God’s presence. Look back on the events of the day in the company of the Holy Spirit.

2. Review the day with gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God.

3. Pay attention to your emotions.  Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. What is God saying through these feelings?

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important.

5. Look toward tomorrow. Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey what’s coming up.

You may like to note in your journal your responses to these questions. Our feelings are the raw material for discernment. Our intellect judges the source of the feelings and the will makes a decision based on this judgment. Other ways to ask these same two questions may

include:

For what moment today am I most grateful?

For what moment today am I least grateful?

What was today’s high point?

What was today’s low point?

What was it about today that was most life-giving?

What was it about today that was most life-draining?

When today did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, others, and God? 

When did I have the least sense of belonging today?

The Story of Sleeping with Bread

During World War II, a group of nuns opened a hospital in Europe for children who had been wounded by the bombing. They soon learned that healing the children’s physical wounds was easy compared to the deep psychological and emotional trauma that they had experienced. Many of the children had been left orphaned and, among their many difficulties, one of the nuns’ greatest challenges was getting the children to be able to go to sleep at night.

After some time, the nuns realized that the children could not sleep because they were afraid that what they would wake up to in the morning would be worse than what they had left at night. They were afraid of waking up alone and hungry. One of the nuns had the brilliant idea of giving the children a loaf of bread each night to hold as they fell asleep. They found that the children, assured that what was most needed for their immediate life needs was already theirs, could begin to rest and recover. Sleeping with bread, holding on to what gave them life, enabled many of these children to survive.

Like the orphaned children, we too, need to learn to hold on to what gives us life. The prayer of examen is a simple means of reflecting on life each day to learn to pay attention to what is giving–and what is draining–true life from us. It is based on the premise that where life is, God is (and vice versa). As we pay attention and watch for patterns and designs, we learn to discern what kind of thoughts, decisions, relationships, activities, etc., lead us into the fullness of life, and what kinds of choices ultimately effect our ruin.

The Prayer as a Means of Discernment

Discernment is the ability to see clearly enough to choose. The prayer of examen helps us to see clearly over a period of time what is drawing us towards or away from God and our true self. It is usually suggested that a person spend several months focusing each day on what gave life and what drained life. After some months, people will have discovered from their own experience what they should do more of and what they should do less of in order to live more fully into the life that God has for them.

Edited from work by Catherine C. Gregg, Christian Formation and Direction Ministries

This link provides further reading regarding the discipline of Examen

The Link provides a description and link to reimagining the Examen App