Today’s reflection is the 3rd in Fr. Michael Schleupner’s series about the Ignatian Examen. For previous posts, please click here to review all of our blogs. Let’s take a few quiet moments to read through Fr. Mike’s thoughts about this phase of the Examen.
Step 3 – Looking Back
After Seeking Light and Giving Thanks, we move to Looking Back. In this third step of the Examen, we review the prior day or the day that is now ending. We look at what happened, but only as a way to get inside of ourselves. We are to look back especially at our inner experience and inner self.
“Ignatius believed that God communicates with us not only through our mental insight but also through our ‘interior movements,’ as he called them: our feelings, emotions, desires, attractions, repulsions, and moods.”
Ignatius cited two basic kinds of inner experience: consolation and desolation. Consolation is often expressed in feelings of peace, joy, or fulfillment. Consolations are experiences that lead us to feel more fully alive, closer to God, or more connected with those in our life. Desolation is often expressed in feelings of anxiety, restlessness, or dejection. Desolations are experiences that lead us to doubt ourselves, doubt God, or feel distant from others. God speaks to us through both consolations and desolations.
In both kinds of inner experience, God may be guiding us in our vocation, in ministry, in a relationship, in making a decision, and on it goes. This is why it is important for us to be attentive to these inner movements.
A good practice is to keep a record of these consolations and desolations. Write by hand or develop an ongoing computer document where you would note the date, and then briefly describe at least the primary consolation or desolation that you experienced on that day. Do this every day for a month and then review your notes. See what they might tell you over a period of time about how God is acting in your life and what God seems to be guiding you to do.
~Father Michael Schleupner
Above quotation from The Ignatian Adventure by Father Kevin O’Brien, S.J.