A Way to open our eyes to God’s presence: The Examen

As I get older, time certainly seems to go by faster. I suspect I’m not the only one who feels that way. It is so easy for days to slide one into the other and go by without much notice; many routines become so rote that we may not even remember if we had done them by the day’s end.

This means that we can lose track of God’s presence in our daily lives, too. There is a way to change that rather mindless condition. The Daily Examen is a simple form of prayer that can help us keep from missing God’s presence and messengers in our lives. You and I can thank Saint Ignatius of Loyola for giving us this gift; the Examen can be found in his Spiritual Exercises (another great Jesuit gift!).

This prayer can be done at the end of the day. It takes about 15-20 minutes—15 to 20 graced minutes!

There are five simple steps that Ignatius suggests:

  • I recall that God is present and I ask that God enable me to see my days through God’s eyes, not just my own. I pray to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
  • I give thanks for this day of life, a pure gift from God.
  • I review the day and note the gifts and graces I received from God and I give thanks for each one that I recall.
  • I review the day and see the ways I fell short in living my Christian life. For example, was I impatient with a co-worker? Did I miss an opportunity to be generous? Was I ungrateful or apathetic toward a blessing received? I face the shortcomings and sinfulness that the Holy Spirit reveals in my life.
  • I repent and express my sorrow to God for my failures; I look forward to the next day and ask God to be where I need grace in the day to come.

Yes—simple steps, but not necessarily easy!

God is present in the details of our lives as well as the major joys, sorrows, sufferings, and losses. The Examen helps us tune in more finely to that presence as well as deepen our commitment to loving God and neighbor.

Let us pray for each other! May you have a blessed day.

Sister Elaine Berkopec