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Taking Time For Reflection, Part 2

A Gentle Examen for the Day

Reflection is an important part of soul care. An examen prayer can help us gently discover holy slivers of love and light as we reflect on our day. A gentle examen can be made over any experience: a day, a month, a season, an event, a year.

Spend up to ten minutes in a gentle practice of looking inside your day. God’s posture toward you is one of compassionate attention. God’s love is expansive and can hold the whole truth of you.This experience of reflection is not meant to be punitive or judgmental in any way. 

St. Ignatius considered this practice crucial, asserting that if a formal prayer period was impossible, the examen would maintain one’s essential connection with God. 

Sunbeam over Lake Maumelle from Rattlesnake Ridge in Central Arkansas. Image by Joshua Kwekel. Used with permission.

A Gentle Examen

  • Come into the present, opening yourself to an awareness of God's presence: Relax and rest, deepening your breath, welcoming your whole self without judgment.    

  • Recall your day with God with gratitude: Ask the Spirit to help you see the day and yourself as God does. Ask God to illumine the gifts. In the rough terrain of the day, some may not look like gifts at first. Offer gratitude back to God. 

  • Gently scan your body: Be aware of any felt senses and let them slowly come into focus. Stay with your feelings as a compassionate friend, listening to what they might say. Observe emerging memories, images, or metaphors. What might their story be?

  • With compassionate curiosity, choose one or two feelings and pray with them:

You may notice an increase of greater faith, hope, love and peace, a life-giving movement of congruence with your authentic self known as consolation. Linger for a few moments as you unwrap and savor that glimmering gift of connection. Talk with God as a friend.

You may notice a decrease of faith, hope, love and peace, a life-draining movement of non-congruence with your authentic self known as desolation. Take a moment to gently unpack the feeling of desolation and hear its story. Often there is a need or a good desire under the desolation. Talk with God as a friend. 

Often our consolations are coming as a gift of resource and energy for us, leading us to

connection with God and our most authentic self. Our consolations can also

give us clues about the unmet needs in our desolations.

  • Rest in the awareness of God’s presence as you look to tomorrow: Consider gently carrying today's reflections into tomorrow. Ask God for specific graces you desire for the day. 


For Further Exploration:

Taking Time for Reflection, Part 1:

Reimagining the Ignatian Examen by Mark E. Thibodeaux, S.J.

Sleeping with Bread by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn, S.J.

The Examen Book: Exploring Every Day with God by Paul Mitchell and Katie Broussard

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