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A Daily Examinaion of Conscience - Fr Michael Gaitley

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As many of you will know we are currently, undertaking the 33 day Preparation for Marian Consecration, to Consecrate on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary! This has been an incredibly joyful and wonderful experience. Some of the Group are following St Louis de Montfort's Preparation process and some, Fr Michael E Gaitley's "33 Days to Morning Glory" preparation. There are even some following both! Truly this is a huge blessing on us all and it was very unexpected and Spirit Led for us to start this group! God is so Good! 

One thing I have found absolutely brilliant about this journey, is that in taking this time to prepare our hearts to be truly lead 'To Jesus, through Mary', it has made me truly wonder just how we can in this time of great difficulty in receiving the Sacraments think about preparing for hearts, minds, bodies and souls for consecration, becoming totally Jesus' through her. 

One important part of this is the 'daily examens', there are many versions of this available and i tend to use a different one so I hadnt looked at this version previously and it is quite simply beautiful. 

The examination of Conscience is basically, a mental review of the previous 16 hoursor so of consciousness - thus, some people prefer to call the examination of conscience an examination of consciousness. Some people find it helpful to write in a notebook or on notecards because: 

  1. Writing helps jog the mind, and;
  2. It provides a record of one's Spiritual life, which can then easily be reviewed before going to confession or Spiritual Direction.  

The Act of making an Examens 

First, we should put ourselves in the presence of God. In other words, we should begin with the attitude that the examen is a time of prayer, not just a mental excercise. Devoutly making the Sign of the Cross may be enough to do this.  +

Next, we just have to remember one word:

B-A-K-E-R

B is for 'Blessings'                

According to St. Ignatius, this is the most important of the five points. Here, we review our day, survey the many blessings God has given us throughout it, and then praise and thank Him for these blessings. Of course, we dont have to go through every single blessing of the day, that would take way too much time. The key is to let ones heart roam around and settle on the particular peaks of joy and blessings of the day, what Ignatius calls "consolation". One more thing: We shouldn't forget to thank God for the crosses of the day, which are also blessings. 

If we get into the habit of praising and thanking God like this every day during our examen, then we will begin to better recognise the blessings of our day as they happen, and thus, we'll develop a continual attitude of gratitude. In other words, our praise and thanks won't begin to flow simply when we make our examen - it'll flow all day long. Furthermore, as God sees our effortsto recognise and thank Him for his many gifts, He'll send us more and more! 

A is for 'Ask'

Although we have already placed ourselves in the presence of God when we began the examen, here we need to ask for a special grace from the Holy Spirit. The Grace to recognise our sins. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we'll remain blind to our sinfulness. Thus, when we get to this second point, we need to ask the Holy Spirit, to help us to recognise our sinfulness, which brings us to the next point. 

K is for 'Kill'

Why “kill”? Because it was our sins that killed and crucified Jesus. During this third point, we look at our sinfulness, weaknesses and attachments. So, again, we gaze across the conscious hours of our day. This time, however, we look not for peaks but valleys, what Ignatius calls “desolation.” In other words, we pay attention to those times during our day when our hearts dropped. Why might they have dropped?  Perhaps because of some sinful thought, word or action we committed. Or maybe because of someone else’s sin.  Or perhaps we lost our joy because we felt overwhelmed by problems due to our lack of trust in the Lord. We didn’t accept the challenge of these problems as a share in the Cross. We should have been more peaceful about it and offered it up as a prayer for others.

Now, lets keep looking. Here's another time our herats dropped. It was this afternoon at work, standing at the water cooler. Hmmmmm. Why did our hearts drop then? Ah, yes (thanks, Holy Spirit), that's when we stuck Bob witha  verbal barb. Let's see, anything else? Yes, there's another heart dropper: We didnt accept the traffic jamon our way home as a small sharing in the Cross. We should have been more peaceful about it and offered it up as a prayer for others. 

Okay, so after remembering all those heart dropping moments, we may feel pretty down. Such a feeling may make us want to run away from Jesus. Let's not. When the weight of our sinfulness drags us down, thats the best time to go to Jesus, sinfulness and all - which brings us to the next point. 

E is for 'Embrace' 

This is to allow Jesus to embrace us, sinners that we are, with the rays of His merciful love. while praying over this point, it may be helpful to think of the image of the Divin Mercy. I like to imagine, the rays of this imageembracing me with forgiveness. I also like to remember Jesus' words that it rests His heart to forgive and that when I go to him with my sinfulness, I give Him the joy of being my Saviour. I believe at this point in the examen, we greatly console Jesus, when we simply let him embrace us with His merciful love - and of course, we too, are consoled. I recommend spending some time longering on this point, in the embrace, before moving on to the next.  

R is for 'Resolution'

During this last point of the examen, we take what we have learned from the previous points and look ahead to the next day, ready to make resolutions. For instance, having recognised during 'K' that we stuck Bob with a verbal barb in the office todat, we might resolve that tomorrow we will make it up to him by going to his cubicle, slapping him on the back and congratulating him on how his football team did earlier this evening. Also, having remembered we were impatient during the traffic jam today, we can resolve to bite our tongues if the sea of brake lights appears again tomorrow. Finally, because during 'B' we realised that God was speaking to us during our lunchtime conversation with sally, giving light on a certain problem, we can resolve to act on that light by looking up the online article she recommended. (I think we get the idea) 

How absolutely wonderful and simple as a way to make your daily examens! Please do let us know how you get on with this version - and if you have a favourite examens, please do share it with us here! 

 

 

 

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  1. John Taabavi

    Have never tried this Examen. I like to try it as a Lenten prayer.

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