The Examen

 

Also called the “Consciousness Examen,” "Awareness Examen," or “Examination of Consciousness” (not to be confused with the “examination of conscience” that may precede the Sacrament of Reconciliation), the Examen is a method of peaceful daily prayer taught by St. Ignatius in the Spiritual Exercises as a way to notice the presence of God in one’s daily life and to live in generous response to it.

Though it may be expressed in a number of formats, in its most basic form, the Examen involves five steps:

 

  1. Centering. Come to a place of stillness and peace and recognize God's presence with you. Ask for assistance to see yourself and your experiences as God sees.

  2. Gratitude. Recall the gifts you have been given and be thankful.

  3. Review. Recall the events of the day (or the period to be reflected on), noticing especially experiences that bring up strong emotions, whether positive or negative.

  4. Sorrow. Consider any moments of regret or when you fell short. Ask forgiveness for any wrongs done.

  5. Response. In light of your reflections, ask for grace for tomorrow and the future.

 

This structure, while ideal for daily reflection, can be adapted to many circumstances and audiences. Here are a few other ways to experience this fundamental Ignatian practice:

 

Basic Examens

Daily Examen: An alternate formulation of a basic daily examen

Printable Examen card: PDF version for sharing or printing

America Media Examen podcast: A podcast to guide you through a daily examens (reflections updated weekly), hosted by Fr. James Martin, S.J.

 

 

Examens for special circumstances

Examen for a new year: For a new academic or calendar year

Examen for times of illness: For those experiencing illness or injury, whether chronic or acute

Examen for social media: For reflecting on the ways we engage with the digital world

Examen with children: Suggestions for praying the Examen as a family

Lenten Examens: Series of examens and reflections for the season of Lent

 

 

 

Want to learn more about the Examen or develop a specific variation to use with your class, team, committee, or department? Contact Katherine Brown at Katherine.Brown@lmu.edu