Praying the Examen

ignatius-loyolaAround 400 years ago, Ignatius of Loyola fell into a rhythm of prayer and life that eventually became known as The Examen. He strove to make every moment count,& every attitude one of holy fulfillment.

In world where I feel bombarded by self-help shtick and voices demanding I absorb their wisdom, I’m resistant to new ways of embracing God. Sometimes spirituality is so sugar-coated and dumbed-down (holistically, not just intellectually), that I wonder how we survive as a people. Perhaps it’s because we too often mix up simplicity for ease. Some things are easy to believe in — pretty to look at, but require little tending to nurture. Simplicity, on the other hand, may look pretty or ugly or plain, but requires we go deeper into the earth, the water, the light, and the fire — into God.

Fundamental evangelicalism taught me to be suspicious of every other belief system (in the name of testing the spirits), and that our way was the right way. Perhaps there are remnants of that moral superiority left in me yet. Perhaps I’ve just become too cynical.

Yet the simplicity of many of Christianity’s ancient mystics and saints have an allure I can’t ignore. These are my “great cloud of witnesses”, my ancestors, my people. In opening myself up to their lives and faith, I am coming to see God and the world in new ways. It’s like breathing with new lungs.

Join me tonight as we pray The Examen. Ignatian Spirituality has provided an Examen Prayer Card that walks us through the simplicity of this exercise, as we take stock of the day and became mindful of God’s breath and voice. I’m not a “Step” person, in that my trusty mistrust avoids lists potentially leading to that easy, shallow spirituality. But understand that the Examen is far deeper than a prayer card. It’s abbreviated here as a reminder, not a summary. Mindfulness is grown over a lifetime. Minutes a day become that life.

How do you ask God for light?

the examen

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