Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my thoughts
See if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
God knows us intimately. This deep knowledge of our inner selves goes far beyond what we know about our own inner workings. The examen provides a space in which God’s knowledge can be made available to us – even when we are wary of what that knowledge may reveal. The Daily Examen is prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to discern God’s direction for us and God’s presence in our daily activities.
Ignatius Loyola describes this method in his Spiritual Exercises. St. Ignatius thought that the Examen was a gift that came directly from God, and that God wanted it to be shared as widely as possible. Jesuits were expected by him to practice the Examen twice daily—at noon and at the end of the day.
Marjorie J. Thompson in her book Soul Feast explains the power and practice of examination and its ability to renew us and ground us in God’s peace. An examination is not just a fault-finding endeavor but one in which we turn our faces to God so that God can help us see clearly who we are and how to move beyond habits and thoughts that keep us estranged from God, self, and others. It provides an opportunity to see what is of God and what is not. It centers us in God and puts us at peace with the fullness of who we are as people called by God and sustained by Spirit. It is a spiritual practice that helps us to become more aware of God’s presence as we review our day to notice God-moments we use to guide our daily prayers.
Listen to Byron discuss corporate examen as a spiritual practice for Lent: https://youtu.be/G4xU-Mo0W5Y