Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF
Lent is a time when we look more into our own hearts and try to fight those habits that hurt our relationship with God and others. With this in mind, I’d like to encourage you to consider the practice of making a daily examen, if you don’t already do so. As Dillingen Franciscans, we are called by our Constitutions “each evening [to] reflect before God on how we have spent the day.” (3.11)
The “when” and “where” varies from person to person and according to circumstances. My preference, when it is feasible, is to make my evening examen in our chapel. However, I work at St. Anne’s as a receptionist until 10 p.m twice a week, so that isn’t always practical. I have found creative settings in which to fulfill this important spiritual practice, even while preparing for bed. (Shame on me :(, that’s not exactly ideal!)
In this post, I’d like to offer some steps in making a good evening examen.
- Recall you are in the presence of God.
- Give thanks to God for the gifts of the day.
- Ask help from the Holy Spirit.
- Review your day, asking yourself: When did I fail? Where there was a barrier to God’s presence? How conscious have you been of God’s presence and actions in your life? When did I love? What habits and patterns do I notice? One helpful way of doing this is to “walk through the day with Jesus,” according to one source. Use the first person plural (We had breakfast…We went to work…We cleaned house…) Remember that “Christ lives in me.” This exercise may help you to catch the times when “we” (Jesus and I) did not do something, the times we sinned. (e.g., “We did not yell at the neighbor.”) This also can help you recognize God’s presence throughout the day.
- Sorrow/Repentance: Tell Christ, who is with you, that you are sorry for the times you failed. Ask Him to help you do better in the future.
- Conclusion: Again give thanks for the blessing of the day. Look to the day ahead. What challenges can you expect? Ask God’s help for this. Maybe plan for a time and place in the coming day when you can spend some more time in prayer.
Information for this article was drawn from: http://www.rcdom.org.uk and from notes I had from the Novitiate.