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This paper is meant to discuss and analyze principles and concepts of spiritual exercises set by Ignacious of Layola. The paper specifically speaks about the examen process. It is a critical analysis of the processes involved in this prayer practice. Additionally, outlined are the methods in which these processes can be ingrained into everyday life. This paper also highlights what are the expected results in order to rate the experience successful. They expound on the resultant effects of the examen practice to a retreatant. Expressed are the results of these spiritual exercises and how they apply to many people’s life. It analyses the variations that happens once these changes are integrated in life and also evaluates how one’s involvement in examen could affect the lives of those around them. Ultimately the paper is meant to highlight the effectiveness and merits associated with the examen prayer practice and also is made to show how to go about the examen practice.
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St. Ignatius Loyola who was the founder of the Jesuits practice came up with vital spiritual exercises. (Carver, 2015). These practices were developed in order to help retreatants achieve direction within their lives in accordance to God’s will as well as defeat of personal gratuitous and ungodly inclinations. (Coghlan, 2005). The first step of examen calls for one to be thankful and appreciative of all things afforded. These include the various experiences, tangibles and relationships in life. According to Margery Eagan, one should be grateful for all facets in life, including the large aspects to the minute inconsequential facets of life (Gallagher, 2006). These allow one much needed perspective in their life and consequentially results to happiness and humility to an individual after realizing the value of what they have despite unfavorable moments in life. In addition to being fulfilling and consoling, it provides one with awareness as to God’s presence in life (“The Daily Examen – IgnatianSpirituality.com”, 2017). Awareness to God is a basic factor to spiritual enlightenment.
Examen allows one to expand self-awareness and is mainly regarded as an introspection into one self. It is a critical objective analysis of one’s emotion in relation to God’s teachings (Standaert, 2007). On the other hand, prayer is often referred as a conversation between an individual and their deity. During this prayer conversation in an examen, people are able to reflect on the actions, motivations and emotions (Fleming, 2010). Further one is able to contemplate on what qualities best reflect a Catholic follower and what qualities are not in line with Catholic teachings. Therefore, this provides the direction on the best path to follow in order to gain spiritual purity. Upon reflection of these emotions and qualities, self-awareness and self-growth are acquired as a resultant eventuality. These reflections are not normally easy but upon consistent and faithful use, they become easier and better inclined to offer revelations into an individual’s psyche and one is able to be closer to God
I performed the examen myself in order to gain spiritual fulfillment. I started the examen prayers twice a day as advised so as to ensure the full impact on my life. The Catholic Church advises its followers to pray at least twice a day (“The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius – Week 5: The Daily Examen”, 2017). I first took it upon myself to be appreciative of everyday things no matter how minute. I allowed gratitude to completely take hold of me and from that grew humility after noticing all that I had. Beforehand, I was unable to notice how much I had due to a short memory of things both important and lesser so. I only remembered the negative and hurtful things rather than the more positive things I notice today.
Secondly, I was able to recognize and appreciate God’s presence in my life. Examen helped me evaluate myself further and my relationship to God. I was able to recognize patterns in my personality that led to both detrimental and positive behavioral and emotional outcomes. According to Dallas Willard, one’s patterns of thinking should comply with veracity of scriptural teaching and revelation, while completely applying them in life. Willard’s notion speaks completely to the essence and objectives of the examen. It helps me overcome forgetfulness of the scriptural teachings that depict a Catholic follower’s existence. It has also helped me attain a deeper and more defined connection to God. The study of self also has aided in recognition of the message God had for my life. In learning about my emotions and motivations I have learnt that God needed me to continue my guidance of younger souls. As a teacher, God showed me the ways to reach, connect and mould the young souls that I was responsible for.
The examen helped me grow more content and hopeful with my life. I am now able to recognize and apply thoughts from reverent sources and to deter those I found earthly, gratuitous and iniquitous. My life also has a positive impact on others through the teachings I offer especially to those younger than me. I am graceful in the way I handle both bad and good days and it is therefore based on this virtues that I believe examen should be a compulsory rite of passage to every Christian who aspires to find spiritual contentment.
- Carver, S. J. (2015). Ignatian Spirituality and Ecology: Entering into Conversation with the Earth. Jesuit Higher Education: A Journal, 4(2), 10.
- Coghlan, D. (2005). Ignatian spirituality as transformational social science. Action Research, 3(1), 89-107.
- Fleming, D. L. (2010). What is Ignatian spirituality?. Loyola Press.
- Gallagher, T. M. (2006). The examen prayer: Ignatian wisdom for our lives today. Crossroad Publishing Company.
- Standaert, N. (2007). The Composition of Place. Way, 46, 7-20.
- The Daily Examen – IgnatianSpirituality.com. (2017). Ignatian Spirituality. Retrieved 20 February 2017, from http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen
- The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius – Week 5: The Daily Examen. (2017). Crux. Retrieved 20 February 2017, from https://cruxnow.com/faith/2014/11/05/the-spiritual-exercises-of-st-ignatius-week-5-the-daily-examen/