The Friday Five: 5 Tips for Praying the Examen

This is the final post in a series this week on the Examen Prayer, a prayer that will guide us throughout The Light Is ON.

By: Elise Italiano, Director of Communications

As we’ve highlighted on the blog this week, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington and the Archdiocese of Washington are encouraging you to consider incorporating St. Ignatius’ Examen as a routine part of your Lenten plan for prayer. I’ve personally committed to doing this for the next 40 days with the hope it becomes a nightly routine throughout the entire year. In order to make it a habit, I recommend the following five tips:

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1. Don’t do it right before you’re heading to bed. It’s impossible to pray well when you’re drowsy. If you have a nightly routine, integrate this at the beginning of it so you can give yourself time to reflect before you fall asleep.

2. Find a quiet space. Find a place that’s quiet and conducive to prayer in your home…just not your bed! You’ll be more attentive to the movement of your heart and the Lord’s voice if you’re awake and alert. If you pray in the same space each night, it’s likely that you’ll be more easily disposed to place yourself in the presence of God.

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3. Put away the screens. It’s tempting at the day’s end to check email, log onto social media, or text friends and family. But it’s impossible to do it and pray at the same time. So close your eyes, and give your mind and heart over to reviewing your day — not as it appeared online, but as you lived it.

4. Don’t make exceptions. We all know how easy it is to get into an exercise routine and skip a day. And then skip two. And then lose the routine altogether. If you commit to examining your day, don’t make exceptions. Building a habit takes saintly, heroic effort, but practice makes permanent.

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5. When you get consistent at night, consider adding a mid-day examen. St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church and author of Introduction to the Devout Life, recommends a check in with the Lord during the middle of the day. If you have five minutes during a lunch break, consider closing the office door and doing an abbreviated examen. You’ll quickly see how it changes the tone of the afternoon.

“God our Lord would have us look to the Giver and love Him more than His gift, keeping Him always before our eyes, in our hearts, and in our thoughts.” – St. Ignatius

I pray this Lenten exercise gives peace to your evenings and prepares you for the start of each new day.

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