The Examen

Chris and Phileena Heuertz are both accomplished authors and the co-founders of the Gravity Center for Contemplative Action in Omaha, Nebraska.

Chris introduced me to a prayer called the “examen” which was the creation of St. Ignatius.

I have to admit, I’ve never been a fan of Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits.  He was (in)famous for saying, “We should always be prepared so as never to err to believe that what I see as white is black, if the hierarchic Church defines it thus.”

This is pretty much a deal-breaker for me when it comes to taking any writer seriously.

But Chris won me over at a retreat that he and Phileena hosted last week when he led us each night through this prayer right before bedtime.  I found it a wonderful way to end the day and to become more aware of God’s presence.

As Mary Sarton wrote in the Celtic Way of Prayer, “Absolute attention is prayer.”

The examen helps us become more attentive to the ways that God has worked in our day.

Chris gave us a card published by Creighton University’s Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality.  It include the five basic prompts of the examen. I don’t they’ll mind if I reproduce them here:

  • I recognize that God is with me as I am.
    • I trust that God is always loving
    • I sense that God often invites me to receive more deeply.
  • I walk through my day to notice the gifts I was offered.
    • I was given____ and I received ____ life today.
    • I enjoyed relating to this particular person today.
  • I notice the gifts that were hard to receive.
    • I felt alone and in the dark.
    • I frustrated my better self today.
  • I became aware of some patterns in my receiving gifts today.
    • I am noticing a particular challenge that invites me.
    • Am noticing an experience that regularly makes me sad.
  • I ask God to keep me open to the gifts of tomorrow.
    • God, let me find you in tomorrow’s delights!
    • God, be with me in a particular experience that I do not look forward to.

Chris explains the examen in the video below

Try the examen and journal about your experience.