An Examen Prayer for the Year
As 2021 slips away, this is the perfect time to reflect on the year gone by. In the Ignatian tradition this is not a superficial review of the past events, but a call to reflect from that deeper place of the heart.
St Ignatius understood the value of interiority, urging his first Jesuits to pray the five step Examen each day. This simple, yet powerful prayer of ‘consciousness,’ is a means of sifting through the interior movements of the heart, the emotions and feelings, joys, sorrows, and challenges of the day. It is a process of greater awareness, which, over time, enables discernment of choices and behaviours which are life-giving and rejection of those which are not.
At the dawn of 2022, we find ourselves midway through the Ignatian 500 Year, and our journey through the Erromeria Pilgrimage. Before embarking on the next stage of the life of St Ignatius and another year of our own lives, we invite you to experience an Examen Prayer for the Year to reflect back on 2021 in order to look forward to the future in hope!
(I invite you to sit comfortably and still your heart by becoming aware of your breath, breath in and out and in and out – in the stillness of my heart, I become aware of God’s presence)
Step One: I become aware of God’s presence.
I ask the Holy Spirit to help me to review the year gone by through the sacred lens of God’s perspective. I pray that I may view the past months with openness and clarity.
Step Two: I review the year with a grateful heart.
As I use this sacred lens to look over the year, I ask the Holy Spirit to help me recall all the gifts and graces of 2021 – I take a few moments to review these with a grateful heart.
Step Three: I consider emotional responses and feelings experienced over the past months, noticing where there was spiritual consolation or spiritual desolation.
I slowly recall the year again, becoming aware of the significant emotional responses experienced. In doing this, I turn to the Holy Spirit asking for help.
I notice what rises within me now as I recall important relationships, conversations, and actions.
Which are the strongest memories that arise, are they consoling or disturbing? I hold these memories, as I ask the Holy Spirit for a deeper understanding and clarity of myself, my situation and my relationships with others.
Step Four: I pray on one significant aspect from the year.
As I sift through the memories and emotions that have arisen, I ask the Holy Spirit to help me choose one significant aspect of the year that needs to be the focus of my Annual Examen.
Perhaps it is an important relationship, situation, or a pattern of behaviour that might need to be addressed. I let all the other memories fall away as I pray from the emotions and feelings that have arisen around this one important aspect from last year.
Step Five: I look towards the new year with hope.
I conclude my Annual Examen by imagining what gifts and blessings the Holy Spirit may have for me in the year ahead.
I see myself as God’s beloved and in that love, ponder all that lies ahead – decisions, challenges, changes, healings, and I pray for the courage to face whatever 2022 will bring.
Finally at the start of another year, I choose to be a person of hope, not only for myself but for the world and importantly for the next generation.