The Examen Prayer
Inspired by St. Ignatius, the examen is a reflective practice that connects us to our true selves and to the Sacred within us and around us. Its steps create space for loving and honest conversation. Through practice, we grow to recognize, know, and trust our inner wisdom and the voice of the Divine. In other words, it’s a path of spiritual friendship. It helps us live lives of compassion, intention, accountability, and hope.
The examen is founded on the belief that Love is in all things. We experience Love through our five senses in our daily experiences in the world and in people around us. In particular, we listen to how and where Loving Presence reaches out to us everyday.
As members of the SCU community, founded on the gifts of Ignatian spirituality, each and every one of us is invited to make the examen a regular practice. Traditionally, the examen takes 5-15 minutes and is practiced in the middle or at the end of the day. The practical steps below work to guide the flow of our reflections according to its interior rhythm. Some people may feel awkward in the practice at first. Like all friendships though, trust and ease grow from rapport and showing up.
There is nothing to achieve. This is simply an opportunity to pay attention, to love, and to get to know the Sacred through your own experience. The examen is a gift we give ourselves and others through our generous attention to Love in the world.
Steps of the Examen
Pause and give thanks for something in your day (even if it’s small).
Gratitude lets us see the light in our lives alongside the shadows. Acknowledging what we cherish gives us a sense of wonder and connects us to Love within us and around us. In this way, gratitude is one way we tell the truth about ourselves and our lives. It’s another way we say, “This matters to me.”
Review what happened in your day and how you felt about it.
We don’t have to remember every detail, but a general recap of our day makes us more aware of our reality and emotions. This is especially helpful if we are on autopilot or feeling disconnected from ourselves, love, or others. Reviewing our day also helps us consider that Love speaks to us through our humanity (our thoughts, emotions, and bodies) and that we’re invited to listen to all of that.
Reflect on consolation and desolation by asking: “When did I feel connected to and disconnected from Love today?”
Holding the memories and feelings from the day, we now observe (without judgment) what sticks out and grabs our attention most. We listen to what brought us alive and made us feel most like ourselves. We call this feeling of being connected to Love and our true selves, consolation. And then we also listen, with equal attention, to what broke our heart, made us feel isolated, or misunderstood. We call this feeling of being disconnected from Love and our true selves, desolation. These deeper messages from our experiences and heart are often ways the Sacred invites us into deeper relationship, healing, and growth.
Listen to where you need mending or need to make amends.
This step is about accountability and compassion. We sit in union with Love and consider where there was misunderstanding or pain in our day. We listen to where we need to make amends and commit to taking steps to do so. We also listen to where we need to speak up about our own needs or on behalf of someone else. Again, we commit to following up on these revelations when we end our practice.
Set an intention and move on with Love.
This step is about making peace with the day and moving on with fresh intention. It’s like cleaning the slate. We might need to wrap up loose ends, but we’re ready to move forward and intend to do so with Loving Presence. Based on all you’ve discovered and acknowledged so far, where do you want to go now? With what attitude and purpose do you want to take your next steps? What do you need to let go of and what do you need to carry with you to move on from here?
Give thanks (again).
Gratitude provides such a nourishing perspective, hope, and humility that ending our practice with it is like lighting a lantern for the path ahead. It also reminds us that we are not alone, but are traveling with Love who accepts us just as we are.
- In collaboration with the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, we offer a weekly lunchtime guided Examen on Thursdays from 12:45-1pm via Zoom.
- “Reimagining the Examen” is a popular prayer app that is based on Mark Thibodeaux, SJ’s bestselling book, Reimagining the Ignatian Examen published by Loyola Press.
- Also, stop by the Campus Ministry office today for a complimentary set of Examen cards!
Ignatian Spirituality is a pathway to holiness taken from the life and works of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). Its fundamental principles originate from his thirty-day retreat handbook, the Spiritual Exercises, which seeks to develop a deeper relationship with God in and through Jesus Christ.
Ignatian Spirituality Resources
- Mindfulness is the active state of becoming fully present to any given moment of our life. It is the deliberate practice of observing our interior thoughts and feelings without judging them as positive or negative. Compatible with the diverse spiritual and/or religious traditions of the world, mindfulness can help foster our ability to accept reality as it truly is. That is, mindfulness allows us to become more attentive to what is happening within us and around us.
- It is therefore important to carve out time for regular mindfulness and/or reflection, especially when it feels like there is no time for it.
- All are welcome to use the newly renovated meditation room located across the information desk in Benson. The tranquil environment provides an ideal space for mindfulness and meditation.
- Campus Ministry has an educational account for the Calm App. If you would like to receive the login information for our subscription, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Meditation Room in the Bensom Center is a space for quiet reflection, meditation, and prayer in the midst of our busy campus. All are welcome here, whatever your religious background or conviction. We hope you find a place of peace, comfort and rest.
At the heart of the campus, the Mission Church is the primary gathering place for liturgies and many on-campus prayer experiences. It is also a wonderful place to visit during the day for private reflection.
Adjacent to the Mission Church. If you're a squirrel watcher, this is the place to be! Apart from that, verdant lawns, rose bushes, and the oldest wisteria vine in the state all contribute to the sense of peace in this space.
The Wellness Room is a dedicated space for nursing moms, a space to take a nap, and a space to rest when you are not feeling well. It is located on the second floor of Charney Hall.
Located in St. Joseph's Hall, this venue is available for worship, prayer, retreats, yoga, sleep hygiene classes, and small groups.
Located in the Mission Church complex with an entrance near Nobili Hall, facing the wisteria arbor, this chapel contains part of the original adobe wall. It is used as a space for small group prayer and meditation.
The Wellness Room is a space for quiet reflection, meditation, prayer, or just a few moments of peace. In addition to meditation/prayers aids, a variety of books on many spiritual traditions have been put on the bookshelf (feel free to add more from your personal traditions). It is also a space for nursing mothers who are looking for a quiet private space. The Wellness room is not able to be reserved.
Located between deSaisset Museum and Vari hall, the St. Clare Garden is a great place to sit and reflect. This sustainable garden contains plants arranged in five main groups to portray the stages of Clare's life: childhood, girlhood, conversion, monastic life, and spiritual life.
The Multi-Faith Meditation Room is a space for meditation, prayer, or just a few moments of peace and relaxation. In addition to meditation/prayers aids, a variety of books on many spiritual traditions have been put on the bookshelf (feel free to add more from your personal traditions). It is located on the third floor of Charney Hall.