As I am reading The First Jesuits by John Omalley, I am thinking about the emphasis that St. Ignatius of Loyola put on the daily examen. It was to be a time of prayer; fifteen minutes in the middle of the day and then a night examen. It is really to look back and see where God was trying to get my attention; to recognize how God keeps calling me through people, events, circumstances. I then give thanks and rest in gratitude for his presence in my life, for his gifts, for his refusing to let me turn away because he keeps calling me. Besides gratitude, there is also some contrition for my lack of awareness, my lack of sensitivity. Knowing that I am forgiven brings both joy and gratitude and a desire to do better. This can be a powerful type of prayer that transforms us so that we are united and conformed to the Heart of Jesus. The problem is that many of us have forgotten about the daily examen and do not stop in the middle of a busy day to reflect on God's action in our lives. We also do not give the time at night so how to return to this prayer of being conscious of God's presence in our lives?
Personally, I find it helpful to take some time first thing in the morning to look back over the day before and pray for light to see where God was trying to get through to me in e-mails, phone calls, the books I was reading, conversations, all the events that touched me the previous day. I quickly ask pardon for my failure to recognize God in people, the circumstances and events; I feel gratitude for the times I was conscious of his action in my life and my the times I did respond to his love. Then I turn to the day that is just beginning and ask help to recognize him in all.
It gives me new energy and a sense of purpose as I look ahead to see what God is planning for me; then he surprises me and comes in unexpected ways but the morning time helps me to find him. Try it and see.