The Awareness Examen – A Tool for Discernment

The Awareness Examen – A Tool for Discernment

The grace of the making Spiritual Exercises for me was the Daily Awareness Examen.

I made the Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life over 20 years ago now. This experience, subsequent retreats, and spiritual direction from that time on have been transformative for me. They have taken me to that deeper level of seeing God in myself, others and in the activities in the world at large. My ability to find God in the positive and the negative, has been further developed by many people I am associated with as a result of embracing Ignatian Spirituality.

The Spiritual Exercises gave and continues to give me a backpack, filled with ways to pray and to find and communicate with God. Sometimes, I find God easily, and at other times, with much more difficulty, but this is totally dependent on my own context. God is always there, whether I recognise or fail to recognise God, is determined by me, my own personal situation and what is happening in my world. But I have skills to help me, no matter what my particular situation is at any time.

The Daily Awareness Examen is a particular tool I found most useful. The five-step approach to examining my day provides a method that can be adapted to my context. It’s not an ‘out-there’ prayer, it’s about critically reflecting on my own life and journey. Fr Andy Bullen SJ describes the Examen, like running your fingertips over your day and becoming more acutely aware of what you are experiencing and what patterns are emerging over time.

The Examen builds awareness over time that enhances my discernment, another tool that I have embedded into my own life. Reflecting on what it is that God wants, has led me to places and given me experiences I would not have necessarily gone to, or undertaken, if left to my own devices. Learning how to be ‘free’ whilst discerning, has meant that I have been able to reflect on what I do well, what I could do better and where it is that I can co-labour with God. I am constantly reviewing what I’m doing, and seeking to determine where God is leading me.


With thanks to Jennie Hickey for this contribution to the JISA discernment series. Jennie is the formation and education officer with Jesuit Education Australasia and works to support the Executive Director and Board of Jesuit Education Australasia to accompany the Jesuit and Jesuit Companion Colleges to ensure they operate as Catholic Colleges in the Jesuit and Ignatian traditions.