The Consciousness Examen
By Rosemary Hagan, D.Min
St. Ignatius of Loyola, a 16th century Spanish knight, theologian, and founder of the Jesuits, spent his life reflecting upon his relationship with God. He developed a way of praying called The Examen, a simple prayer that can deepen our awareness of the presence of God, and aid our spiritual growth as His Disciples. The Examen, now referred to as The Consciousness Examen, or an examination of your consciousness of God, can be prayed at noon and at night, or simply prayed at the end of the day. Here is one way to pray the Examen.
I become aware of the love with which God looks upon me.
- GRATITUDE – I note the gifts that God’s love has given me this day, and give thanks to God for them.
- PETITION – I ask God for the gift of insight and the grace that will make this Examen fruitful beyond my human capacity to understand.
- REVIEW – With my God, I review my day. I remember or now notice the stirrings in my heart and thoughts that God has given me through my day. . And I look also for those times and feelings and thoughts that have not been of God. I remember the choices I made in response to each of these.
- FORGIVENESS – I ask for the healing touch of the forgiving God who, with love and respect for me, removes my heart’s burdens.
- RENEWAL – I look to the following day and, with God, plan concretely how to live it in accord with God’s loving desire for my life.
Aware of God’s presence within me, I prayerfully conclude the Examen. (e.g. with The Lord’s Prayer)
Disciples, like you, have been praying this prayer for centuries, and reaping its spiritual benefits. When we turn our minds to this reflection, we will be led to God’s deepest desires for us. “Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I chose what leads to God’s deepening life in me.” -St. Ignatius