The ending of the catechetical year is the perfect time to reflect on the highs and lows, rejoicing in the graced moments in our programs and seeking to improve the more challenging areas. The Examen prayer, as outlined by St. Ignatius Loyola, provides us with a perfect guide to making just this kind of review.
As you get set to begin this time of prayerful review, be sure to set aside at least 15–20 minutes, though you should feel free to take as much time with it as you like. You may also wish to keep a notebook or your prayer journal handy in order to jot down your experiences.
Before you begin your review of the catechetical year, sit quietly for a few moments and settle yourself in the presence of the Lord. Breathe deeply of his great love for you, and share with him in brief conversation the love you have in your heart for him and for the families you have been journeying with over the past year.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to be your guide, and begin to walk together over the events, activities, and celebrations of the past year. Invite the Spirit to help you focus on those events to which you ought to pay the most attention. Allow your attention to be guided to two or three key moments. You may wish to jot these down.
- Give thanks for the gifts of the year. Whether they are clear moments of grace or times of challenge, you have asked for God’s help, and a particular event, conversation, or experience has been brought to mind. Your first action should be one of gratitude.
- Identify and pray over your most significant feelings with respect to the moment or moments which the Spirit has brought to your attention. Re-live these moments in your imagination. Let the words, actions, and emotions you experienced or are experiencing now sink in. What connection might this moment have to what is going on in the bigger picture of your ministry? Why might you need to pay attention to this right now? Speak with God about these things.
- Take time to reflect on the challenging moments of your catechetical year. If there have been moments of shortcomings, missed graces, or activities that just didn’t work, give thanks for having had these brought to your attention with their opportunities for learning and growth.
- Look to the future. Imagine the year to come, knowing that it holds the potential to draw you and the families you serve closer to God—whether you will stay in the same place or move on to a new ministry. If there are particular moments you know are coming that you would like God’s help with, here is a perfect opportunity to ask.
Close your time of prayer with an Our Father.
The steps of the Examen provide us with a lens that can help deepen our awareness of God’s activity in our ministry and encourage us to bring our challenges to the Master’s feet rather than going it alone.
Download an Examen prayer card for your personal use or to share with those you serve.