Over 400 years ago, St. Ignatius of Loyola was recuperating from a very serious injury. He was a young man at the time, and he didn’t like staying in bed. With little to do, he began reading about Jesus and the Saints.
Slowly, Ignatius began to realize how much God loved him and that, if he looked around, he could find God everywhere. This experience wasn’t unique to him, but was and still is available to everyone. You just have to pay attention!
St. Ignatius also began to realize that God needed to play a central role in our everyday lives, not just on Sundays. God was right there, waiting to help, we just had to recognize His presence.
While on a 30 day retreat, Ignatius developed a God-centered plan called the Spiritual Exercises, and that’s where he rolled out the Examen. This prayer is not like an examination of conscience that you have to do before you go to reconciliation.
Instead, it’s simply a method of prayer that helps you focus on where God is in your life, each and every day. You did know that He’s always around, right? Yep, God wants that kind of relationship with you, even as a teenager. You don’t have to wait to be an adult for God to come to you. He did that when you were baptized, and He hasn’t left you since.
This video clip does a great job at showing how teens can use the Examen to find God in their lives.
So, are you up for the challenge? Here’s a great song to help you get relaxed and ready to experience the Examen for yourself. The song is called Blessed Be Your Name and its all about how important it is to give God praise for everything, including the good and not so good.
So, if you’re ready, give this a try. It should take about 5-10 minutes.
Start with prayer
- Become aware of the presence of God. Look back on your day, feeling the Holy Spirit with you. If you feel a bit confused by what you’re experiencing, as God to bring you some clarity and understanding.
- Review the day with gratitude.
Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights. Pay attention to the little things, like what you ate, the things you saw, the friends you spoke to. Remember, you can find God in the details!
- Pay attention to your emotions.
Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. Ask what God is saying through these feelings. God will probably point out some areas where you fell short. Maybe you sinned, and now’s the time to tell God you’re sorry.
- Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may be a vivid moment or something that seems insignificant.
- Look toward tomorrow.
Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges. End your prayer with an Our Father.
St. Ignatius encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend. End the Daily Examen with a conversation with Jesus. Ask forgiveness for your sins. Ask for his protection and help. Ask for his wisdom about the questions you have and the problems you face. Do all this in the spirit of gratitude.
Now, here’s a a challenge for you. More than likely, your parents have never heard of the Examen Prayer. They may not even know about St. Ignatius!
No worries. Sometime during the next week, introduce this cool prayer to them. Do it together as a family, and watch what happens. Wouldn’t it be awesome if your family got a new appreciation of God’s presence?