Today’s reflection comes from Fr. Michael Schleupner. As we anticipate our upcoming 8-Day Ignatian Directed Retreat (click here to read more) we thought the timing of Fr. Michael’s series on the Examen is perfect! Let’s begin to read his insights about this powerful prayer practice.
Ignatian Examen – Introduction 1
My previous reflections were focused on Saint Ignatius of Loyola – his life, his writings, and the spiritual tradition that he started. I did this as background for presenting the Ignatian Examen – the daily prayer that Ignatius introduced in his spiritual classic, The Spiritual Exercises.
The Examen is not just an examination of conscience. It is not just looking for what wrong I have done and then bringing that to God for forgiveness. That is a good practice and a good part of one’s spiritual life. The Examen, however, is more of a prayerful discernment of how God is acting within us and how we are to respond to God.
“When examen is related to discernment, it becomes examen of consciousness rather than of conscience. Examen of conscience has narrow moralistic overtones. The prime concern was with what good or bad actions we had done each day. In discernment the prime concern is not with the morality of good or bad actions; rather the concern is with how the Lord is affecting and moving us…deep in our own affective consciousness.”
The idea is that what is happening within us, in our inner consciousness, is prior to and more important than our actions. The Examen is a way of prayer or a prayer that leads us to this. Its focus is first and foremost on God and on who God is calling me to be and what God is drawing me to do.
The focus on oneself flows from that. It is, in that sense, secondary. God and God’s action must come first in our consciousness.
Coming up, I will conclude this Introduction and then in the following weeks guide us through each of the five steps of the Examen.
~Father Michael Schleupner
This link connects to Father Mike’s current and past Inbox Inspirations: www.fathermikeinboxblog.blogspot.com.