st ignatiusLearn to make an Igna­tion “Exa­men” every night. Remem­ber­ing God’s mercy helps us be merciful

The Daily Examen

Part of the rich tra­di­tion of the Catholic Church is rec­og­niz­ing the need to reflect on the day’s activ­i­ties — to remem­ber God’s invi­ta­tion and our response or lack of response. Saint Ignatius of Loy­ola devel­oped a sim­ple method by which you can review each day in a way that will help you grow in self-​understanding and free you to fol­low God’s will. This prac­tice is often called the Daily Exa­men. Many peo­ple choose to prac­tice this prayer­ful review of their day before going to bed at night by fol­low­ing the five steps below.

Still­ness: Recall­ing God’s Presence

Relax in God’s pres­ence in your favorite prayer place and pos­ture. Be aware of how God shows his love for you in all his gifts to you. Be thank­ful as you think of God the Father’s love, the love of his Son Jesus, and the guid­ance of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit to come into your heart and to help you to look hon­estly at your actions this day and how you have responded in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions. With the Spirit’s inspi­ra­tion you can rec­og­nize what draws you close to God as well as what pulls you away from God.

Grat­i­tude: Express­ing Thankfulness

Review your day and give thanks to God for his gifts. Try not to choose what to be thank­ful for but rather to see what springs to mind as you reflect. Think of the con­crete details of your day — the aroma of cof­fee brew­ing, a smile from a co-​worker, or a beau­ti­ful rain­bow. Recall the gifts that God has given you that you can share with oth­ers — your abil­ity to help in a cri­sis, your sense of humor, or your patience with chil­dren. Pause and express your grat­i­tude to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Reflec­tion: Look­ing Back on Your Day

Again review the events of the day and notice how you acted in the many sit­u­a­tions in which you found your­self. Recall your feel­ings and motives to see whether you con­sid­ered all of the pos­si­bil­i­ties and freely fol­lowed God’s will. Ask your­self when you were con­scious of God’s pres­ence. Think about oppor­tu­ni­ties you had to grow in faith, hope, and char­ity. When we think about why we did or did not take advan­tage of these oppor­tu­ni­ties, we can become aware of how we might change our actions in the future. Be grate­ful for the occa­sions when you freely chose a course to help oth­ers. Per­haps you let a shop­per with a small order go ahead of you in line or did not join in a con­ver­sa­tion crit­i­cal of a co-​worker. These are exam­ples of respond­ing freely as God wants us to. When we reflect on the times we did or didn’t act with God’s grace, we can be more sen­si­tive to devel­op­ing habits of pos­i­tive responses.

Sor­row: Ask­ing for Forgiveness

After you have asked for the Holy Spirit’s guid­ance in recall­ing and reflect­ing on the actions of your day, spend time talk­ing with God or Jesus. Express sor­row for the times you failed to fol­low his direc­tion and ask him to be with you the next time you encounter a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion. Give thanks to God for the grace that enabled you to fol­low his will freely. Feel the sor­row and grat­i­tude in your heart as you con­verse with God.

Hope­ful­ness: Resolv­ing to Grow

Ask God to help you as you look for­ward to a new day tomor­row. Resolve to coop­er­ate and trust in the lov­ing guid­ance of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Con­clude the day’s prayer­ful review with the Lord’s Prayer.

By prayer­fully review­ing your day, you will expe­ri­ence the dif­fer­ence it can make in the way you live. If you make a habit of prac­tic­ing the Daily Exa­men, you will grow closer to God in your thoughts and deeds and will be free to choose to fol­low him.

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