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Sermon Notes: The Examen

October 20, 2023

During my sermon on October 15, entitled "The Invitation," I referenced The Examen by St. Ignatius. Below is a summary taken from the book "Reimagining the Examen" by Mark Thibodeaux, SJ. Find information about different formats of the book and an app to support your journey here.

As always, I welcome your questions and am happy to talk with you more about this and other spiritual practices.

Pastor Pam

What Is the Ignatian Examen? Saint Ignatius of Loyola created the Examen to be a very short (“quarter of an hour”) twice-daily prayer that can be prayed at any time that is most convenient. Most people enjoy praying the Examen during their lunch break and in the evening as they are winding down. At lunchtime, you look back at how your morning has gone and look forward to how your afternoon and evening might go. In the evening, you look back over your afternoon (since your lunchtime Examen) and look forward to how tomorrow morning might go. If you are new to the Examen, you may find it easier to start by praying it only once a day.

Give thanksgiving. I begin by giving God thanks for all the things I’m grateful for today. I allow my mind to wander as I reflect on the ways God has blessed me on this particular day. I allow big things and small things to arise—everything from the gift of my faith, to the gift of my marriage, to the easy commute to work today.

Ask for the Spirit. Next, I want to look at the moments in my day when I did not act so well. However, before doing so, I ask God to fill me with his Spirit so that the Spirit can lead me through this difficult soul-searching. Otherwise, I’m liable to hide in denial, wallow in self-pity, or seethe in self-loathing.

Review and recognize failures. I look back at my day and ask the Lord to point out to me the moments when I have failed in big ways or small. I take a sobering look at the mistakes I’ve made this day. Ask for forgiveness and healing. If I have sinned, I ask God to forgive me and set me straight again. If I have not sinned but simply made a mistake, I ask for healing of any harm that might have been done. I ask for help to get over it and move on. I also ask for wisdom to discern how I might better handle such tricky moments in the future.

Pray about the next day. I ask God to show me how tomorrow might go. I imagine the things I’ll be doing, the people I’ll see, and the decisions I’ll be mulling over. I ask for help with any moments I foresee that might be difficult. I especially ask for help in moments when I might be tempted to fail in the way I did today. To help me remember the five steps, I like to use a 5-Rs mnemonic:

  • Relish the moments that went well and all of the gifts I have today.
  • Request the Spirit to lead me through my review of the day.
  • Review the day.
  • Repent of any mistakes or failures.
  • Resolve, in concrete ways, to live tomorrow well.

From: Thibodeaux, Mark E., Reimagining the Ignatian Examen: Fresh Ways to Pray from Your Day. Loyola Press.

Find reference to The Examen in Pastor Pam's October 15, 2023 sermon here:

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