The Ignatian Awareness Examen

The Ignatian Awareness Examen is a reflection on the movements of each day, to notice God’s presence and discern God’s direction for our life.

The Examen was prayed in the Church for many centuries, and adapted by Ignatius Loyola to help us understand how God is at work in our daily experiences.

St Ignatius believed that the Examen was a gift that came directly from God, and that God wanted it to be shared as widely as possible.

Here we offer you one example of the Ignatian Awareness Examen. May it be a support for you in nurturing your relationship with God and in growing your understanding of how God is calling you.

Annual Ignatian Awareness Examen

During these first few days of the new year, we invite you to pray this annual examen on the year just concluded. We hope it gives you a deeper awareness of how God is directing you.

May the coming year be consoling and fruitful.

Examen for the end of the Year - LISTEN HERE

Become aware of God’s presence

I become aware of God’s presence within.

I ask the Holy Spirit to help me review the year from a holy perspective.

I ask God to gently show me where He has been guiding me

throughout the year, each month, each day …

I ask for the grace to see my year as God sees it rather than my own assessment.

I call to mind each moment and notice everything

but mostly I see God’s hand on my year.

I ask God to show me one particularly important moment

of presence and I linger for awhile …

 

Gratitude

In the presence of the Giver of all grace,

I now ask to see more clearly, the gifts of the year ending

I specifically name those blessings and graces

that come to memory now and thank God for them.

 

Be attentive to emotions

I think over the year again…

I ask the Holy Spirit to show me where I have been drawn to goodness,

where has the good spirit drawn me to goodness, towards God…

I notice my emotional reactions.

What memories speak to me?

Which events, conversations, relationships, or activities

bring up the most emotion now, as I remember them?

I ask for help in understanding why I feel as I do.

What can I learn about myself or about my situation

as I dwell in my emotional responses?

 

Choose one feature of the year and pray from it

While going over the gifts of the year and the emotions

was there a feature that seemed to be more prominent?

I allow myself to linger on it and let my prayer be centered on it.

 

Look to the future

The Giver of all gifts of the past is already in the future

– already hoping in my future.

As I look towards tomorrow, towards next year,

towards the years ahead, in this space of God’s presence, love and mercy

-this God who draws me to growth and abundance,

I think of important relationships, decisions to be made, skills to learn,

habits to build, healing to seek, good work to accomplish.

I make a simple list.

I bring it to God and ask for the graces needed.

As I look towards a hope-filled future,

what else would I like to speak to Jesus about?

 

Glory be to the Father,

and to the Son,

and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning,

is now, and ever shall be,

world without end.

Amen.

 

Adapted from “The Examen at the end of our year of studies” by Belinda Cahpman (2021) and “The Examen Prayer of the Year” by Vinita Hampton Wright (2023)

An Examen Prayer for the Year

As the year 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 a new year, we invite you to experience an Examen Prayer for the Year to reflect back on the year 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 the year – 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 the next year 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.

AMEN

Examen for the Year LISTEN HERE