Today’s Lenten activity is one that some catechists are already familiar with and that is the notion of praying the Daily Examen, an Ignatian form of prayer.
Praying the Daily Examen
- Arrange to have a TV/DVD player in your room.
- Insert any DVD, and press PLAY. (Keep the sound off.)
- Invite the young people to imagine that they are demonstrating how to use this equipment to someone who has never done so.
- Say, “I’d like to PAUSE this DVD. Who can show me how to do that?”
- Have a volunteer come forward and press a PAUSE button either on a remote or on the player.
- Put the DVD back on PLAY, and invite volunteers to come forward to show how to REWIND and FAST FORWARD and finally STOP.
- Point out how convenient it is for us to be able to perform all of these functions when watching a program. Explain how we can take the same idea and apply it to our prayer lives.
- Describe how we need to PAUSE occasionally in our daily activity to reflect on God’s presence and action in our lives.
- Explain that, as we pause, we can “rewind” our day and then “fast foward” through it, recalling what has already taken place and how God was present and acting in those events.
- Write the word EXAMEN on the board. Explain that this is a Spanish word (meaning examination) that St. Ignatius of Loyola used to describe this type of prayer and that he encouraged people to PAUSE for 10 or 15 minutes a couple of times each day to examine their day to recognize how they have either grown closer to God or have moved away from him.
- Tell the young people that you are going to teach them how to do a Daily Examen so that they can do this on their own each day.
- Invite the young people to find a comfortable position for the next 10 minutes (sitting on the floor if possible). If possible, dim the lights.
- Invite them to do so slow, deep breathing to calm themselves and to become aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
- Tell them to ask the Holy Spirit to help them PAUSE their day and to just be still (one minute).
- Then, tell them to ask the Holy Spirit to help them REWIND and go back over their day, being thankful for God’s blessings (one or two minutes).
- Then, tell the young people to ask the Holy Spirit to help them FAST FORWARD through their day, recalling those moments when they did things that moved them closer to God as well as those things that took them away from God (two minutes).
- Invite them to thank God for the moments when they were aware of his presence and to ask forgiveness for the moments they failed to follow him (one or two minutes).
- Finally, tell them to ask the Holy Spirit to help them STOP and to look forward to the rest of the day or the new day to come tomorrow and to commit to following the Lord more closely (one or two minutes).
- Invite them to finish their Examen by quietly praying the Lord’s Prayer.
- After a few moments of silence, invite the young people to come back slowly and resume their places.
- Encourage them to practice the Examen each day on their own by pausing (inviting the Spirit), rewinding (reviewing their day with gratitude), fast-forwarding (reviewing the day again for movement toward and away from God), and stopping (asking for help for what lies ahead).
It’s me here from Sacramento! just to thank you for all the list of activites you shares with us everyday and love it, love it, love it…. i’m always looking forward to new ideas I can gather from your website.. cuz keeping up with my beginners and 6th graders is not an easy task. See you in RECongress come March.!!!………..Your number one fan:) Evelyn
Evelyn, thanks for your comments and your kind words about the activities. I’m looking forward to RE Congress. Be sure to say Hi…I’m speaking on Sunday morning.
Thanks so much for this! I’m a youth minister working with 8th graders, and I wanted to do an Examen with them tonight (I have a heavy Ignatian spirituality background and want to share it without overwhelming the kids), and this will be perfect! I really appreciate your sharing this and helping me out with my lesson plan! 🙂
Amanda, I’m glad you found it in time for your lesson! Hope it goes well…I’m sure it will under your able guidance!
Thank you for posting the link to this activity! I plan on using it with my confirmation students , tonite. They really enjoy the reflections I’ve been doing with them and some are viewing the 3-minute prayer on their own. I just started praying using the Examen during Advent 2011. This is a perfect time (and way) to introduce it to them!
Thank you for reminding us again about this wonderful prayer. I introduced the Examen to my 8th Grade students earlier in the year but will revisit it with them again this Sunday as a perfect way to pray during Lent.
I am grateful for all your suggestions! Your creativity and inspiration has been such a gift in connection with so many aspects of my class – especially relating to Confirmation preparation! Thank you for so generously sharing your insights and ideas!
You’re welcome, Marie-Jeanne!