Spiritual Direction - Week of July 6
Just a couple things to consider as we move into the week.  Wednesday at 10 we will have our prayer hour on the front lawn.  We have been approaching a scripture passage with the Lectio Divina reading and meditation style.  Join us for this meaningful prayer experience... bring a friend, a chair and a mask.

Secondly, as some of you may know I have completed one year of a two year program in leading individuals and/or groups in Spiritual Direction.  Part of my second year is to offer spiritual direction to individuals who might be interested in trying it.  Meetings can happen weekly (this sort of meeting would require a bit of work on your part to read, meditate and journal on select scriptural passages. This would last 32 weeks.  If that seems like too big of a commitment then I can also offer ongoing, monthly individual Spiritual Direction or group meetings.  Please keep in mind that I am a novice.  This year will be a big learning experience for me.  Please let me know if you are interested, or if you have questions regarding this.  I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

This week I encourage you to take a different approach to prayer. 

I am going to suggest we do something that is called the Daily Examen.  The Examen helps us attune ourselves to God’s presence in our everyday life.  The Examen was developed by Ignatius and is done by many faithful people today.  There are 5 main steps outlined below with an explanation taken as an excerpt from various sources.  At the bottom is a link that will allow you to print a prayer card that you can use to remind you of the steps.  As you pray the Examen it will become more natural and surround you entire day with an awareness of God’s presence.

The goal is that we begin (or continue) to find God present within us, all around us, and speaking to us constantly. We ask to see the day through God’s eyes.  Do you notice God’s presence in the people and places around you?

Step 2: Give thanks.

Our gifts and talents differ, and as a result the harvest produced will differ. But such differences do not make some people better in the eyes of God. Whatever talents or gifts we have are just that—gifts. And gratitude is the only proper response to the reception of gifts.

Gratitude for what we are given runs counter to the competitive nature of our culture. From infancy, we are taught to compare ourselves with others in terms of talent or looks. IQ tests, SAT scores, class rankings—all compel us to compare ourselves with others. In such a culture, the inability to do what others can do and are applauded for can lead to a sense of inferiority. We need to pray regularly and often for gratitude to God for who we are.

Perhaps even more important is to pray to know in our bones that we are the apple of God’s eye just as we are. How different might we look at ourselves or our neighbors if we could hear Jesus saying “I love no one more than I love you, but I don’t love you more than anyone else.” What a great relief and freedom it would be if we could believe that Jesus makes no comparisons but loves each of us as we are, and wants the best for each of us.

—Excerpted from God’s Passionate Desire by William A. Barry, SJ

Step 3: Review the day.

I was once sitting in a little park in the small town of Loyola in Spain. Behind me was the imposing basilica of St. Ignatius, who was born there. Its edifice at that time was covered in scaffolding and under renovation. In front of me was a small kiosk selling newspapers, chocolate, and other small items.

A man came along with his small daughter and their dog. The man bought a newspaper for himself and a little container of soap bubbles for his daughter to play with. They sat down beside me. The man was engrossed in his newspaper. The little girl was delightedly blowing bubbles, clearly entranced by the magical colored globe that each bubble formed as it caught the sunlight. The dog jumped up after every bubble and tried to catch it, but as soon as he seized the bubble with his snout, the bubble burst.

I asked myself, “Which is teaching me more about the kingdom of God—the mighty basilica with all its scaffolding or this little girl’s joy at the beauty of the world reflected in her bubbles?” The little dog was a reminder that as soon as we try to take hold of the mystery and pin it down into our own categories, words, and meanings, we destroy it.

If we think we have “got” it, we will lose it.

If we think we have “arrived,” we have gone down a cul-de-sac.

—Excerpted from Simple Faith by Margaret Silf

Step 4: Face your shortcomings.

We come to the humbling awareness that we are sinners, that we have often been ungrateful and unfaithful. We have failed to respond to God’s offer of love by failing to love God and love our neighbor. Sin is the failure to bother to love. Sin is not simply the things we do but also the things we fail to do. It can be the failure to recognize everything as a gift to be cherished, fostered, and shared. For Ignatius, ingratitude is the greatest sin and the root of all sin. It is, in the end, the failure to love as God has loved us.

This step might be connected to your daily review by asking yourself simply… ‘What was I most grateful for yesterday?’ And ‘what was I least grateful for?’

As we pray and face our shortcomings we can turn toward God, realizing we have offended. We realize that we have distanced ourselves from the one we most desire.

We are sinners, but we are forgiven. The two are connected. Only when we claim our sinfulness and stand in sorrow before God can we truly experience God’s mercy. We are loved sinners. God loves us even when we fall short.  Only when we know the depth of our sin do we know the depth of God’s mercy. We are not as good as we thought, but we are much more loved than we ever imagined.

—Excerpted from Discovering Your Dream by Gerald M. Fagin, SJ

Step 5: Look toward the day to come.

We need to act wisely, as God would have us act. The question to ask yourself is “What will I do today?” I have a long to-do list written on a sheet of paper that lies next to my keyboard. I work in two different offices, and I carry the list around with me. (I haven’t put it in my phone yet—that’s one of the items on the list.) My list is a mixture of personal and professional tasks, small errands and big projects, the urgent and the postponable, the practical and the dreamy. This list is the future. Most days I go through the list and select the tasks that I will do today. That’s what we do in the fifth step of the daily Examen. We narrow things down. The future becomes today.

Today isn’t going to be what you expect. Your boss will give you a new project; people who have promised to get back to you won’t do it; someone you haven’t heard from in months will call or drop in; you’ll open an e-mail and discover that you have to stop what you’re doing and tend to a problem immediately; your spouse will be delayed at work, disrupting dinner and the evening plans; your sister will call, asking for a big favor. You can’t control this pandemonium, but you do have influence over it. There are some steps you can take… as you pray you align yourself more closely to Christ and remember that he is in it all with you.

—Excerpted from A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer by Jim Manney

If you would like a prayer card to use to help remind you of these steps you can download one here and print it for yourself.

Examen Prayer Card



Written by Jenny Gee.

Director of Christian Education