September 18, 2023
I love the energy and opportunities that fall brings with it for deepening our discipleship. New classes are being offered. New small groups are organized. New sermon series started. It is a time for spiritual growth.
Today I offer up one of the spiritual practices that, among others, has sustained and nurtured my spiritual life for decades now. It is the use of the Ignatian Examen. Ignatius was the founder of the Society of Jesus (what we commonly call Jesuits), a major player in the Roman Catholic Counter Reformation, who formed a community around a spirituality that insisted that God is present everywhere and can be experienced in imagination, emotion, and intellect. God can be glimpsed and experienced through the most ordinary of things. It is a spirituality that calls forth wonder, praise, and gratitude.
The Ignatian Examen is a daily opportunity to reflect on the day just lived posing a series of questions. After letting yourself become composed, it begins with praise and thanksgiving for the gift of the day and for God’s presence in it and then moves on to the questions themselves. The questions I have used have changed over the years but a good place to start is simply asking, “Where have I experienced God today?” The answers may touch on when I saw beauty, in whom I experienced God’s presence, or where I glimpsed God’s loving, redeeming activity in the world. After the day has been fully reviewed, the next question is, “When and in what way was I most dulled to God’s presence?’ This question gets to how and in what ways I missed God’s presence through distractedness or carelessness. Where was I not attuned to the wonder and grace all around me? This question becomes a form of confession and transformation. It ends with relinquishing the day to God’s mercy and care. Here is a link with more information on the Examen if you’re interested in giving it a try: https://rcspirituality.org/wp-content/uploads/Examen-Prayer-Journal.pdf
Over time this daily practice has given me an opportunity to grow more conscious of God’s loving presence even in the most mundane of experiences and circumstances.
As ever in prayer,