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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Framing Prayer 20 The Jesuits and The Examen

Again, I think that Jesuit ways of prayer can easily be incorporated into lay lifestyles. Part of this is that the Jesuit approach is practical, concerned with daily metanoia, and tailor made for missionaries, on the go.

St. Ignatius writes this: “We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one.”  Detachment is the hallmark of any serious Catholic who wants to be a saint, but for the Jesuit who chooses poverty as a vow, it is a keystone of the approach to God, having nothing in the way for meditation or contemplation to bear fruit.

For the lay person, this ideal can be met by getting rid of superfluous distractions. So how can we tell if we are attached to something? Use the imagination and think of your life without this thing, person, place.

A lay person can easily find time to employ the Daily Examen of the Jesuits. I suggest what the Jesuits do, a morning and evening evaluation and reflection on your life. If one adds this to morning and evening prayer, it becomes a habit. And, as I noted in another post earlier this year, one can each this message to children as part of Confirmation preparation.

The examen is not merely an examination of conscience, a review of one's sins and imperfections, but a tool for discerning how the Holy Spirit is working in one's life. Discernment, from the gift of knowledge given in Confirmation,

Why this should be a daily examen is that one cannot perceive the movement of God unless one is "on" daily. Obviously, one cannot do the Examen outside of prayer. This would be falling into the new age technique of self-consciousness outside of God. When one does the Examen daily, it is a habit which is carried out throughout the day. One can stop one's self from sinning, see patterns of weakness and learn what is temptation and what is an imperfection.

In order to be in union with God, this habit of reflection, which only needs to take seconds after awhile, helps one through the purgation of the senses and the spirit.

Remember that it is God who gives the grace for such an Examen and the habit of reflection leading one through the Dark Night to Illumination. How wonderful is very young people can learn this early on in life.

Finally, the two daily examens end in gratefulness, in thanks for the graces of the day. Discernment is listening, and then acting on what is heard. The virtues of faith, hope and love grow daily through this easy method of daily conversion. One does not have to be self-absorbed to do this, and in fact, self-denial is really the reason for recognizing sin.

to be continued....