Fr. Michael Schleupner offers his next post in the series about the Ignatian Examen today. Please refer to previous blog posts to learn more and the preceding three steps. Let’s spend a few quiet moments learning more about the ‘action’ phase of the Ignatian Examen.
Step 4 – Being Contrite
This fourth step of the Examen follows from the third which was ‘Looking Back’. In that step, we review the prior day or the day that is just ending from an interior perspective. We look at our inner movements – our feelings, desires, moods, attractions, and repulsions. We look at these under the Ignatian categories of consolation and desolation.
Now, in this part of the Examen, we are looking more at our actions or behavior. We are looking at what we did or failed to do that falls short of God’s calling. So, we look at things in our personal life like prayer, diet, exercise, and use of time. We look at relationships: our response to family, friends, associates, anyone with whom we related or to whom we should have reached out.
Being Contrite means feeling sorrow for our faults, failures, or sins. Positively, it also means seeking metanoia – the Greek word that we translate as repent, but which really means conversion or change of heart.
Above all, we engage in this step of Being Contrite with the assurance of God’s complete love for us. That love remains, regardless of what we did or failed to do. This assurance keeps us spiritually whole and personally secure in our own value or self-worth.
“This contrition and sorrow is not a shame nor a depression at our weakness but a faith experience as we grow in our realization of our Father’s awesome desire that we love Him with every ounce of our being.”
It is appropriate and helpful to conclude this step of the Examen with some kind of Act or Prayer of Contrition, perhaps as simple as this:
“Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us.
In his name, my God, have mercy.”
~Father Michael Schleupner