For Lent this year, I’ve been learning more about Ignatian spirituality…that is, the way of prayer and approaching God pioneered by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. One of the things that St. Ignatius suggests is a nightly “examen”. In this examen, he proposes that at least once a day, we stop to truly be aware of how the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives, and what we are being called to.
I find it to be an appropriate practice for the season we’re in–not just the season of Lent, but the season of transition that the Church is in. It seems pretty clear to me that in the days since the Holy Father announced his abdication, the Catholic Church has been undergoing a lot of spiritual warfare. I think that calls for a renewed awareness, and a renewed focus on the work of the Lord…after all, we’ve all been asked–by the Pope, by the bishops, by priests–to be in prayer for the Conclave and for the eventual new Successor of St. Peter, and I think the kind of intense prayer the hour calls for would be helped by starting with a personal examination.
So here, in the words of St. Ignatius, are the steps to an “examen.” Let us turn our eyes to Jesus, and let us pray for His Bride…
The First Point is to give thanks to God our Lord for the benefits I have received.
The Second is to ask grace to know my sins and rid myself of them.
The Third is to ask an account of my soul from the hour of rising to the present examen, hour by hour or period by period; first as to thoughts, then words, then deeds in the same order as was given for the particular examination.
The Fourth is to ask pardon of God our Lord for my faults.
The Fifth, is to resolve, with His grace, to amend them. Close with an Our Father.