During the month of August we are meeting on Wednesday nights for a meal and a time of prayer. This evening we practiced an abreviated form of a practice called Examen. Generally attributed to Ignatius sometime in the early 16th century, Examen is a daily exercise that has been a regular practice of Jesuits ever since. The Examen is a methodical prayer designed to help you recognize and receive God’s presence and action in the routine of daily life.
In churches of Christ we have a long history of rejecting practices that originate from within other denominations, and particularly from within Catholicism. I'm becoming convinced that we have sometimes cut off our nose to spite our face. It does not necessarily imply agreement with theology to adapt practices that can be helpful in spiritual formation in either a corporate or an individual sense. The more I learn, the more I discover that I don't know...
American Catholic Update describes these five simple steps to the Examen:
Recall that you are in the presence of God.
We are always in the presence of God, but in prayer we place ourselves in God’s presence in an especially attentive way.
Look at your day with gratitude.
As you move in gratitude through the details of your day, remember that every single event has been God’s gift. As you take stock of what has been given you this day, take special care to notice what you received and what you gave. As you complete the review of your gifts and the particular gifts of this day, pause briefly to thank God for all these.
Ask help from the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit will help you understand the mystery of your human heart, and at this point you ask to learn more about your actions and motivations. This is not a “beat up on yourself” session, where you will grind at the core of your being in sadness over things you have done wrong. Rather, it is a gentle look with the Lord at how you have responded to God’s gifts.
Review your day.
Here you review your entire day, watching it like a little movie that replays in your mind. Be sure to notice the details, the context of what happened and how you acted. As you look through the day, notice especially your interior motives and feelings. Examine just how conscious you have been of God’s presence and actions in your life.
Reconcile and resolve
In the first and second steps, we ask the Spirit of God to guide us as we look at our day with gratitude. In the third and fourth steps we ask the Spirit of God to guide us as we review our actions. The final step, our heart-to-heart talk with Jesus, is the fruit of that repetition.