Several years ago, I became acquainted with Ignatian spirituality, and over time, incorporated many of the key components of this spirituality into my daily living. Although I’m certainly not an expert, I have learned enough so as to feel comfortable weaving such topics as the Examen into our programs.
There are five key components to the Examen, a daily review of how the day went.
- Become aware of God’s presence. Even first graders are leading busy lives these days. We all need to be reminded that we have a God who is always present to us.
- Review the day with gratitude. More often than not, many of us focus on the negative things that hit us throughout the day. Choosing to concentrate on all the good around us helps us wind down the day with grateful hearts.
- Pay attention to your emotions. Were you happy or sad, fearful or confident? Did you worry, or were you trusting?
- Choose one thing that happened during the day and pray about it. Of course, you could pray about something wonderful that occurred, or it could be something that troubled you. Either way, let God enter into your reflection.
- Look to tomorrow as another chance. I love to watch the sun come up each day. It’s a powerful reminder to me that I’ve got another chance to make things right. No matter what happened yesterday, the new day can be better.
I love to teach our RCIA classes the Examen, and over the years, many people have returned to thank me for sharing it with them. I’ve also been excited to hear from the parents of my fifth graders how they have begun incorporating this prayer into their family time, often at the request of the fifth graders themselves.
Regardless of whether you are working with fifth graders or a group preparing for adult Confirmation, you will find people receptive to many of the components of Ignatian spirituality.
What aspects of Ignatian spirituality have you incorporated into your programs? How have they been received? How have they borne fruit?
This article was originally written in 2012, when Paul was the DRE at St. John Catholic Church.