EXAMEN: How Did I Do Today?
St. Ignatius was a master of practical prayer and recommended making a daily examination of the conscience, whereby one reviews the day, at the end of the day, in the presence of the Lord. St. Ignatius directs people to spend most of their time reflecting not on sins, but on the blessings of the day.
- The following is a summary of the Examen as presented by Father Gaitley, MIC.
- The Examen should be made sometime toward the end of the day. Most people make it shortly before going to bed.
- We should first put ourselves in the presence of God. For instance, one could devoutly make the Sign of the Cross.
- Next, remember the word 'baker' (B-A-K-E-R):
- B stands for 'Blessings'. According to St. Ignatius, this is the most important of the five points. Think of the many blessings God has given you throughout the day and then praise and thank him for these blessings. We shouldn't forget to thank God for the crosses of the day, which are also blessings. (Eventually, we'll develop a continual attitude of gratitude, where one's praises and thanks will flow all day long, instead of solely at night during the Examen.)
- A stands for 'Ask'. Ask the Holy Spirit to help us recognize our sinfulness.
- K stands for 'Kill'. Because it was our sins that killed and crucified Jesus. We look at our sinfulness (weaknesses and attachments, too). We also look for the valleys, which Ignatius calls 'desolation.' We pay attention to those times during our day when our hearts dropped (e.g., someone else's sin, someone said unkind words to us). Did we forgive them? Did we accept the traffic jam on our way home as a small sharing in the Cross? We should have been more peaceful about it and offered it up as a prayer for others.
- E stands for 'Embrace'. This is to allow Jesus to embrace us, sinners that we are, with the rays of his merciful love. It may be helpful to think of the Image of Divine Mercy. One could think of Jesus' words that it rests His Heart to forgive and that when I go to Him with sinfulness, I give him the joy of being my Savior. (This point was also supported by St. Faustina [see previous blog posting.)
- R stands for 'Resolution'. We take what we've learned from the previous points and look ahead to the next day, ready to make resolutions.
Gaitley, Father Michael E., "33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration", Marian Brothers of the Immaculate Conception, 2011.