To help us become more present and disciplined to the experience of God in everyday living, and to encourage us to live more consciously in and of the presence of God in our daily lives, Ignatius gifted us with what he called “the most important prayer” that we could do, the daily Examination of Consciousness or the daily Examen. In the Examen, we have an opportunity to spend a few moments reviewing our day, paying special attention to the moments we most felt God’s presence with us, and conversely, becoming aware of the times when we felt separated from God. The Examen further invites us to practice living in gratitude as we are asked to remember those people, situations and events in our day for which we are most grateful, and also to ask special blessing and prayer for those hopes and concerns in our hearts. Lastly, the Examen reminds us that each day we may ask forgiveness for any and all transgressions in which we feel we did not follow the best path that God offers to us in our words, thoughts or deeds. By recognizing our need for forgiveness and God’s desire to forgive us through this daily examination of consciousness, the power and freedom of living in ongoing redemption becomes possible. Our spiritual path becomes a dynamic experience of conscious living based on our relationship with God. (Definition by Marquette University)
What would have been a typical holiday season gathering took on a new meaning for me recently. In years past, I would find myself battling the Scrooge demons from about the time the first wreath was hung until that day I was back to my desk on January 2nd. A combination of life events over the last 20 plus years has placed me in selfish isolation, a place I never enjoyed visiting. This Saturday night I crawled into bed and began my Examen. It was different that night. It was filled with gratitude, it was filled with a feeling of joy that I have been missing for some time during this Christmas season. Two conversations from that evening dominated my prayer. Gratitude came alive not from the words spoken, but from the emotion when I asked this friend about a sick child. Also the genuine interest she expressed when I shared with her my journey with Saint Ignatius. I drifted off thanking God and St. Ignatius for sharing with me this way of ending my day. It has allowed me to find the hidden joys on one Saturday night.