How is your spiritual life going? Occasionally I will ask someone that question. Half the time the response is what half the time I might give: the look of a deer in the headlights! Some people don’t want to deal with it at all; they toss the question aside with a quip. Others say they don’t worry about it. Others, though, answer me seriously. They tell me what God is showing them in their prayer life, or in their workplace or in their family. Listening, I am filled with gratitude to God and to them for sharing. To hear how God is working in the life of another person helps me see God’s action in my own life, and in the life of this community.
To be serious and listen to how God is speaking in one’s heart is a learned skill and a spiritual discipline. Often we miss God’s nudges and small still voices due to busyness. Then, too, while we may begin or end our days with prayer, often we do not review a day in prayer.
St. Paul encourages the members of the church in Corinth to just such a review, to prepare to take communion. Christians wanting to grow in their faith have used various methods to do so through time. During the sixteenth century, Ignatius Loyola, learning from both Benedictines and Flemish writers, developed a way to briefly review one’s day each day. He called it an examen. His examen is a five-step process.
First, you come before God in prayer to thank God for the blessings of the day. You take time to remember and recognize how God has offered you blessings and mercy today. Second, you ask the Spirit for divine presence and help. Then, you replay where you fell into usual sins or made mistakes. Fourth, you ask for forgiveness, healing and the grace to change. Fifth, you make a few (not too many) resolutions for change: what can I do for God tomorrow? A major aspect of Ignatius’s examen is his psychological acuteness about the role of our emotions in our daily life, and learning to pay attention to our feelings and put them — good and bad — before God.
Have you a way to review each day with our loving God? There are many versions of Ignatius’s spiritual examen available on the Internet. I encourage you to try this way of being more daily mindful of your life with God. Ignatius’s daily five-point method is helpful. Here are three links that will help explore this way of Christian daily mindfulness.