• Introduction

    I become aware of the love with which God looks upon me as I begin this examen.

    Spiritual Direction

    Summary

    • St. Ignatius said that above all prayer, the most important prayer that we do is the Examen Prayer.
    • He said that if we were to ever drop any prayer time from our day, this should be the last one to be dropped.
    • The Examen prayer can be a difficult prayer to learn and to pray on our own, and that is why this app has been developed.
    • St. Ignatius suggests doing this prayer twice daily so you will have reminders to pray this sometime in the morning and sometime in the evening.
    • It is highly encouraged to journal as it helps you to enter into a dialogue with God.
    • If you do journal, you will be reminded of the resolution that you and God came up with the day before.

    transcript

    Welcome to St. Ignatius’ Examen Prayer. This feature of the app will walk you through the Examen Prayer and help you to more and more live and dwell in the presence of God.

    St. Ignatius said that above all prayer, the most important prayer that we do is the Examen Prayer and he said that if we were to ever drop any prayer time from our day, this should be the last one to be dropped.

    St Ignatius initially developed the Examen Prayer with five points. And over the years, it has been developed most significantly by the Jesuit priest, Father Aschenbrenner, to help us reflect not only on our sins but more importantly on discerning the movement of the spirit in our lives. What is most important in the Examen prayer and in the spiritual life of St. Ignatius, is the principle and foundation that we experience the presence and the love of our heavenly father.

    The Examen prayer can be a difficult prayer to learn and to pray on our own, and that is why this app has been developed. I learned of the Examen prayer about ten years ago while making an Ignatian retreat. And over the years, I have found it difficult to pray unless I actually sit down with a journal and prayed it step by step.

    A couple of years ago, it was suggested to me by a very wise priest that I should do whatever I could to make this prayer accessible, memorable and doable, it was then that I realized if I had an app for that, it would really help me.

    And so my hope is that this app will help you. So two years later, we now have St. Ignatius' Examen prayer in the form of an app. My hope and prayer is that through my direction, the wisdom of St. Ignatius, the use of modern technology, ultimately through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you will find yourself tremendously blessed by using this app each and every day.

    You will find a couple of key features most practical. First of all, St. Ignatius suggests doing this prayer twice daily so you will have reminders to pray this sometime in the morning and sometime in the evening.

    What I also find most helpful is that I would often forget what my resolution was the next day when I woke up. So, every morning now, when your timer goes off, your alarm clock goes off, you will be reminded of the resolution that you and God came up with the day before. This will tremendously impact your day and begin to change your path forever for the greater glory of God.

    You will also notice the journal feature of this app. This journal is password-protected and encrypted so you should feel safe to be completely open and honest with God.

    There will also be a feature where you can export the information whenever to share it with your spiritual director, your confessor or another wise, spiritual person. I do encourage you to journal as you pray the Examen prayer, as it helps us to enter into this dialogue with God.

    Let us continue on now to St. Ignatius’ Examen prayer.

  • Transition

    Take a moment to enter into your prayer, silence yourself, make the Sign of the Cross and bring to mind your favorite way of being with God.

    Spiritual Direction

    Summary

    • Take a moment to transition from the stresses of the day.
    • Take a deep breath in, enter into silence and imagine being in God’s presence.
    • Use whatever image of God you can to help yourself feel his presence.
    • Maybe for you it is being held in the arm’s of the Father. Maybe it is Jesus calming the storm in the sea. Maybe it’s the Good Shepherd holding you in his arms, or maybe it’s the Spirit breathing into you.
    • Repeat the Jesus prayer over and over: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
    • And, finally, make the Sign of the Cross and begin your prayer… In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

    transcript

    It’s important that as we enter into the Examen prayer that we take a time of transition.

    The catechism says that the choice and time of duration of prayer arises from a determined will revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time . One makes the time for the Lord with the firm determination not to give up no matter what the trials and dryness one may encounter.

    So take a moment of transition into this Examen prayer. Chances are you’ve already experienced the stress of the day, so try to calm yourself.

    Take a deep breath in, enter into silence and imagine being in God’s presence.

    Use whatever image of God you can to help yourself feel his presence. Maybe for you it is being held in the arm’s of the Father. Maybe it is Jesus calming the storm in the sea. Maybe it’s the Good Shepherd holding you in his arms, or maybe it’s the Spirit breathing into you.

    Repeat the Jesus prayer over and over: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” And, finally, make the Sign of the Cross and begin your prayer….In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

  • Gratitude

    Remember all of the blessings of the day. Thank God for all of the good things that have happened, and all of the gifts that you have received.

    Journal

    Spiritual Direction

    Summary

    • Remember all the blessings of the day.
    • Thank God for all the good things that have happened and all the gifts that you have received.
    • If our hearts spent the entire time in this gratitude, that would be enough.
    • It’s important that our gratitude be very specific and from our actual experience of the day.
    • This will help us to genuinely realize God’s gifting us in a very personal way, and it will make it real for us.
    • So, try to remember that moment vividly. See it. Touch it. Taste it. Feel it.
    • That’s God’s gift to you, and there’s nothing better than a gift that is accepted, appreciated, and delighted in.
    • Gratitude helps us to realize that God gives us so much, and this will put us in a wonderful state of receiving the fruit of the Examen prayer.
    • Think about your day with God, and thank him for the gifts that you have received.
    • No gift is too great or too small, and be as specific as you can as you look at how he has provided for you from the very first moment of your day until the present moment.

    transcript

    The first point that St. Ignatius makes in the Examen prayer is Gratitude.

    Remember all the blessings of the day. Thank God for all the good things that have happened and all the gifts that you have received.

    I have found gratitude for myself to be salvific. St. Ignatius says that if you spent the whole time simply in the step of gratitude, it would be worthwhile. And, if our hearts spent the entire time in this gratitude, that would be enough. You wouldn’t even need to go further in the Examen prayer.

    The Eucharist, which means Thanksgiving, is the source and summit of our spiritual lives, and therefore, it ought to be the source and summit of our personal prayer as well. All is Grace. All is Gift. Everything is Holy. Everything’s a Miracle. And, it’s important that our gratitude be very specific and from our actual experience of the day. This will help us to genuinely realize God’s gifting us in a very personal way, and it will make it real for us.

    So, try to remember that moment vividly. See it. Touch it. Taste it. Feel it. That’s God’s gift to you, and there’s nothing better than a gift that is accepted, appreciated, and delighted in.

    We hear in the Gospel of John, “I am in You and You are in Me and without Me, You can do nothing.” We are nothing without God, and we have nothing without him. Everything that we have is his gift to us. Gratitude fosters a profound sense of humility and receptivity. It puts us in a position of realizing that we are ultimately poor, powerless, weak, and we can do nothing on our own.

    We are completely dependent on God to provide for us. Gratitude helps us to realize that God gives us so much, and this will put us in a wonderful state of receiving the fruit of the Examen prayer.

    When we are grateful and humble, it sets us up to receive God’s grace. And, realizing that he provides for us, can shift us from being demanding and despairing to delighting in God’s goodness and the joy that will follow. So, as you begin this point, think about your day with God, and thank him for the gifts that you have received. No gift is too great or too small, and be as specific as you can as you look at how he has provided for you from the very first moment of your day until the present moment. And, more and more, we will realize that all is Gift. Gratitude sets the foundation for trusting God, and once we have this trust, we can begin to look at our lives and allow ourselves to let him in.

    Take a moment now to journal what you are grateful for before you continue on to the next point.

  • Petition

    Ask God for the grace to see whatever He wants you to see.

    Journal

    Spiritual Direction

    Summary

    • Ask God for the grace to see whatever he wants us to see.
    • The Examen prayer ultimately as with all prayer is a gift from God, and with all gifts, we must ask God for the grace, and then receive it.
    • All we can do is ask.
    • We hear in scripture, “Seek and you shall find, “ “Knock and the door will be answered,” “Ask and you shall receive.”
    • It’s important to try to articulate what it is that you desire at this time of prayer.
    • Try to really think about your prayer as being a personal prayer to God and what it is that you desire.
    • Remember, as with gratitude, instead of demanding and forcing or trying to make this prayer happen, the best thing that we can do is ask.

    transcript

    The second point that Ignatius makes in his prayer of Examen is petition. Ask God for the grace to see whatever he wants us to see.

    The Examen prayer ultimately as with all prayer is a gift from God, and with all gifts, we must ask God for the grace, and then receive it. All we can do is ask. We hear in scripture, “Seek and you shall find, “ “Knock and the door will be answered,” “Ask and you shall receive.”

    It’s important to try to articulate what it is that you desire at this time of prayer. So, try to really think about your prayer as being a personal prayer to God and what it is that you desire. You can simply say a verse from scripture. Speak Lord, your servant is listening. Or, Lord, help me to see myself as you see me. Open my eyes Lord. Father, reveal to me whatever you would like me to see. Maybe you’re casual and you say, “Father, can we talk about today?” Or, “Father, can we look over my day together?” Or, “Father, can I share my day with you?” Or, “Father, will you spend some time with me talking about our day together?”

    However it is, try to make it in your own personal words and your true desire.

    King Solomon prayed the beautiful prayer of petition and we heard about it in the first book of Kings, Chapter 3, “Give your servant therefore a listening heart to judge your people and distinguish between good and evil, for who is able to give judgment for this vast people of yours. The Lord was pleased with Solomon’s request, so God said to him, “Because you asked for this, you did not ask for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but you asked for discernment to know what is right. Now, do as you request. I give you a heart so wise and discerning, that there has never been anyone like you until now nor after you will there be anyone to equal you.”

    Remember, as with gratitude, instead of demanding and forcing or trying to make this prayer happen, the best thing that we can do is ask. And, by doing this every day, we constantly learn to ask of God.

    So, take a moment now and journal your prayer and continue on to the next point, which is to discern.

  • Discern

    Review your day with the Father and ask Him to help you realize when you were with God and when you were moving away from God’s love.

    Journal

    Spiritual Direction

    Summary

    • We review our day with the Father and ask him to help us to realize when we are with God and when we are moving away from God’s love.
    • The purpose here is not to look back at our day and judge ourselves for what we did is good or bad to share it with God, our best friend, our greatest love, our most intimate companion.
    • And, it is in this sharing our day with God, in reviewing it with loving attention, we begin to come to a greater clarity.
    • This point of review helps us to discern the spirits that are operating on us throughout the day.
    • Maybe it was a moment of joy or laughter. Maybe it was a time of struggle or stress or difficulty. Share this with God and you will find him bring insight, guidance and wisdom, and there will be a great sense of unburdening.
    • Ignatius suggests going through our day moment by moment or hour by hour.
    • God will allow moments to surface in you that have begun with gratitude, with trust, with petition, and now with this time of review.
    • Take some time now to journal especially any specific moment when you noticed a shift in your day, a difference in your moods, a feeling of closeness or separateness from God because this is Holy ground.
    • It’s a sacred experience, especially when you look at it with the Lord.

    transcript

    The third point in Ignatius' Examen prayer is discern. We review our day with the Father and ask him to help us to realize when we are with God and when we are moving away from God’s love.

    The purpose here is not to look back at our day and judge ourselves for what we did is good or bad to share it with God, our best friend, our greatest love, our most intimate companion. And, it is in this sharing our day with God, in reviewing it with loving attention, we begin to a greater clarity. It’s asking ourselves and sharing with God the things that happened. The feelings that were evoked. The state of our present soul and allowing God an opportunity to give us some insight and guidance.

    Hopefully, as we pray the Examen and become more and more familiar with the rules of discernment, we will become aware and very sensitive to the interior movements of our soul. There will be times when we will be very much drawn towards God and other times are we filled distant. Times that we are filled with consolation and times we find ourselves in desolation. It is really helping us to be aware of God’s presence in our lives and how present we are to him. This point of review helps us to discern the spirits that are operating on us throughout the day. In desolation, there is a spiritual movement away from God, a sense of spiritual blackout, a sense of being distant from God. And, in consolation, we experience a movement of God, an increase of faith, hope and love and all that is good.

    To do this part of the Examen does need to be some quiet and silence. We hear in scripture, “Then the Lord said to Elijah, go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord. The Lord will pass by and there was a strong wind, and a violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, a light, silent sound. We hear that in the book of Kings, Chapter 19.

    Saint Ignatius suggests reviewing your day hour by hour, moment by moment. But if you find this too tedious, try to think of one moment, one movement of your heart, one moment where you felt consolation or desolation. And, ask God for some insight into that.

    Maybe it was a moment of joy or laughter. Maybe it was a time of struggle or stress or difficulty. Share this with God and you will find him bring insight, guidance and wisdom, and there will be a great sense of unburdening. This is almost what we hear in the gospel of Matthew, “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

    Ignatius suggests going through our day moment by moment or hour by hour. But again, this is not supposed to be burdensome, it’s actually supposed to be a time of unburdening ourselves with God. God will allow moments to surface in you that have begun with gratitude, with trust, with petition, and now with this time of review. This really is a time to look at our lives and see where God was present and how we responded.

    If he invited us into intimacy, did we go there? Was there a part of us that was reserved or afraid? Did we find times throughout the day that we were distant from God, angry, desolate, alone? And ask God, God can you make sense of this with me? Why did I turn from you? What was I seeking? Inevitably, some sin will arise on our part, but in the Examen, if it’s prayed correctly, it will not bring about a sense of self-judgment or self-condemnation, but genuine sorrow and a contrite heart as well as an immediate experience of God’s mercy and the Father’s unconditional love.

    Often, the area that we need to look at, we tend to hide from because it’s painful, difficult to look at, but if we do the Examen with the safety of God, in experiencing God’s love after this time of gratitude, we will realize that we’re not doing it on our own. We don’t have to fix ourselves. In fact, we can do nothing on our own. As we hear in the gospel of John, “I can do nothing on my own. I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” And, frankly, why would we want to do it on our own? Why would we want to look into the dark parts of ourselves by ourselves?

    The truth is honesty is required. And, as we hear in the gospel of John, “The truth will set you free.” This part of the Examen is a time for honesty and truth. And, as we pray this point with the Father, there will be a growing awareness of our sinfulness and of God’s unconditional love. And, it’s only out of this love that true conversion happens. And, it’s not just us trying to fix or change ourselves.

    So, take some time now to journal especially any specific moment when you noticed a shift in your day, a difference in your moods, a feeling of closeness or separateness from God because this is Holy ground. It’s a sacred experience, especially when you look at it with the Lord. So, take a moment now and discern with God.

  • Forgiveness

    Take a moment to call to mind your sins in the Presence of the Father who loves you unconditionally, and admit anything you are sorry for, and experience His mercy.

    Journal

    Spiritual Direction

    Summary

    • Take a moment to call to mind our sins and the presence of our Father who loves us unconditionally.
    • Admit we are sorry, and experience his mercy.
    • This penitence, especially in the context of St. Ignatius’ prayer of Examen, is not about shame or depression or self-condemnation, but again, as with all the other steps, it’s about experiencing God’s love.
    • Try to be as specific as possible.
    • Try to really express whatever the incident was that happened.
    • Bring it to the light and actually share it with God.
    • It’s important that this prayer is never done alone, but always done with God.
    • You may also find yourself with some sin that is difficult for you to process, and if there is any sin that keeps coming up, or it’s a grave or serious sin, it would be wise to bring this sin to confession.
    • If you are still troubled, seek a wise and spiritual person who can bring some insight.

    transcript

    The fourth point of the Examen prayer, which flows naturally from the previous one, is forgiveness. Take a moment to call to mind our sins and the presence of our Father who loves us unconditionally. Admit we are sorry, and experience his mercy.

    As mentioned earlier, the Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives and also the model for our personal prayer. Every mass begins with a penitential rite. We call to mind our sins, and we ask God for his mercy and forgiveness. This penitence, especially in the context of St. Ignatius’ prayer of Examen, is not about shame or depression or self-condemnation, but again, as with all the other steps, it’s about experiencing God’s love. Try to be as specific as possible.

    Try to really express whatever the incident was that happened. Try to name it. Bring it to the light and actually share it with God. This could be anything that we noticed drawing us away from God during the day and ultimately it’s returning to God and letting ourselves be loved by God even in the midst of our sinfulness, even in the midst of turning away, even in the midst of revealing ourselves to God as he reveals our sinfulness to us.

    As in all human relationships, when we reconcile, our relationships become even stronger than they were before. And so it is with God, when we go through this step with him, we grow in strength of relationship. It does take great courage to admit our faults. It takes courage to admit we did something wrong. And if you’ve ever had someone do this for you, you know how humbling it is, and how inclined we are to be merciful and forgive. How much more merciful is God?

    The wonderful thing about this point is that the more we experience God’s mercy, love and forgiveness, the more we will become merciful, loving and forgiving. And, we know from the Our Father, the most perfect prayer, the greatest prayer that has been given to us by Jesus….we cannot be forgiven unless we forgive. It will also be very difficult for us to forgive without experiencing being forgiven by God.

    And so it’s important that we be specific, particular, concrete in the examples we use because that’s where God is. That’s what the incarnation is. That’s God taking on flesh, dwelling among us and allowing himself to be with us in our mess. He comes to us in our mess. He comes to save us from our sins, and he can only redeem us from what we share with him. And, if we don’t share it with him, we can’t be forgiven.

    It’s important that this prayer is never done alone, but always done with God. If we’re doing it alone, it becomes a time of beating ourselves up, on judging ourselves, of abuse, of shame, of guilt, of anxiety. This is not the intent of the Examen prayer. The Examen prayer, done with God, though it may include some of these feelings, will be ultimately one of experiencing the Father’s unconditional love for us.

    As with the other steps, it’s really good to journal and to just get it out there. Just by writing it out, we get it out of our heads and we place it before God.

    You may also find yourself with some sin that is difficult for you to process, and if there is any sin that keeps coming up, or it’s a grave or serious sin, it would be wise to bring this sin to confession. To seek a wise and spiritual person who can bring some insight that ultimately is mentioned before.

    Remember, when you go to the Eucharist and when you go to confession, try to remember this sin, so that you can experience God’s forgiveness sacramentally and that your life, your real life begins to become immeshed with the sacraments. Ultimately, God wants us to experience his love and mercy, not only in the depths of our heart, but also through human hands, human voices. And this is why we are given the sacraments.

    It may help at some point to export your journals so that you can share them with a priest at confession. Hopefully, when you come to the end of this step, by being honest, and vulnerable to God, you’ll feel even closer to him.

    As with other points St. Ignatius makes in the Examen prayer, all of these are to help us foster and feel the unconditional love of the Father in very real and concrete ways.

  • Resolution

    With the Lord, make some practical, concrete, and do-able resolution for the next period of your day.

    Journal

    Spiritual Direction

    Summary

    • With the Lord, make some practical, concrete and doable resolution for the next period of your day.
    • This resolution will probably be different from day by day and hopefully it is different each and every day.
    • It will probably be rather a more subtle, concrete, practical and doable resolution.
    • Once you enter this resolution into your journal, it will automatically come up as a reminder.
    • The resolution that you make will help you ultimately not only experience God’s love during the time of the Examen, but to live it out in your life accordingly.

    transcript

    The final point of Ignatius’ Examen prayer is Resolution. With the Lord, make some practical, concrete and doable resolution for the next period of your day.

    This final point flows so naturally out of the previous steps Having come to reflect on our day with God, we will naturally want to make some concrete change in our lives or make a renewed commitment to remain in his love and avoid anything that would lead us away from staying in God’s love.

    This resolution will probably be different from day by day and hopefully it is different each and every day. It doesn’t have to be some radical conversion, though it may be, or some unbelievable change, though it may be, but rather a more subtle, concrete, practical and doable resolution for the next day or the next period before your next formal Examen prayer time.

    Rather than us trying to come up with the resolution on our own, hopefully, like the other steps, this is an experience of something arising in our hearts with God. You know, God bringing some insight to our mind is a gift from God that just seems right. He gives us a sense of hope, of goodness and of confidence that not only all is well, but something about tomorrow or our next period is going to be even better than it was today.

    Once you enter this resolution into your journal, it will automatically come up as a reminder, and often times, I find myself making a resolution, but I go to bed and I wake up the next day and I forget what the resolution was. The genius of this app is that it will remind you. It’s built in.

    So, when you wake up in the morning, your alarm clock will tell you, the first thing you’ll see is the resolution you made from the previous day. How much more will our days be changed…our lives be changed dramatically by these small, daily resolutions, slowly, but surely, keeping us focused and directed and following the call of our Lord.

    You will notice that integral to this app are the rules for discernment. The Examen prayer is a time for us, throughout the day to discern the spirit of our hearts. Are we being directed by the Holy Spirit or have we been mistakenly deceived in following the spirit of the enemy? Whenever you find yourself confused, feeling distant from God or in desolation, use the rules for discernment as they will help you get back on course and back into the sense of feeling that all is well with God, with you and with the world. The Examen is so instrumental in remaining in God’s love and Ignatius would say, “Finding God in all things.”

    Near the end of his life, St. Ignatius would say that whenever he wished, at whatever hour, he could find God. The same could be true for us. And, with this app, it will help you to do that by faithfully praying the Examen prayer and learning the rules for discernment.

    The more and more that we do this during specific periods of our day, the more that we’ll find God all throughout our day. When we remain in God’s love and in his consolation and are aware of his presence in our lives, his word and direction become so clear, so evident. And, if we realize that we are being guided away by the evil spirit, we will much more quickly become aware of that, instead of jumping into something else or escaping into a fantasy, we can now turn our attention once more towards God.

    The more we pray the Examen prayer, the more we will dwell in his consolation. The less we will experience separation from God and the more quickly we will return if we have been misguided. The Examen is a way for us to remain in the unconditional love of the Father. In the beginning, this may be a difficult act for us, requiring some discipline, but after a while, it will become not only something we force ourselves to do, but love doing and look forward to doing because it becomes spending time with God who loves us and delights in us. It becomes sharing your day with God, sharing your life with God, every moment with God who loves you beyond all telling.

    We will begin not just a couple of formal times a day to do the Examen and the discernment of spirits, but all throughout our day, all throughout our lives. We will become aware of God’s love, his presence, and very quickly realize when we stray from it so that we can more immediately return to the source of our life and the source of our love.

    The resolution that you make will help you ultimately not only experience God’s love during the time of the Examen, but to live it out in your life accordingly.

  • Conclusion

    Take a moment to enjoy this time with God, and now begin to look forward with hopeful and joyful anticipation to the rest of your day, knowing that He is with you in all that you do and you can truly find God in all things.

    Done

    Spiritual Direction

    Summary

    • As you come to the end of the Examen prayer, allow for a time of transition, just as you did in the beginning.
    • It was said by the great Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living.
    • When we pray the Examen prayer faithfully, we will find that life is worth living and the examined life is greatly worth living.
    • Remember to pray this prayer every day so that the Father can remain in you and you can remain in him.
    • This prayer will begin to help you to live a life in constant awareness of love and forever dwelling in the Father.

    transcript

    As you come to the end of the Examen prayer, allow for a time of transition, just as you did in the beginning.

    It was said by the great Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living. When we pray the Examen prayer faithfully, we will find that life is worth living and the examined life is greatly worth living.

    St. Ignatius’ Examen prayer and the rules for discernment will help us to lead a life in the presence of God.

    You have just spent some quality, wonderful time with God. So, take a moment just to be grateful for this loving attention from God and begin to look now to the rest of your day with great hope and trust that the resolution that you made with God will not only impact your day, but help you be aware of the Father’s loving presence with you always.

    Remember to pray this prayer every day so that the Father can remain in you and you can remain in him. And that the love and the grace and all the blessings of this prayer will begin to help you to live a life in constant awareness of love and forever dwelling in the Father.

    And may the Almighty God bless you and keep you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..