Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pope Francis Made Me An Ignatian-Franciscan Hybrid Wannabe

Since there's a Jesuit university in town, I've always heard about the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus.  Reading and learning about the Spiritual Exercises has long been on my list of faith-related to-dos.  Now that we have a Jesuit pope, I decided now is a perfect time to delve into Ignatian spirituality. 

I probably won't be reading too much of the Spiritual Exercises until I finish Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth: Part Two: Entrance Into Jerusalem to the Resurrection (a must-read, especially during Lent!).  In the meantime, I'd like to make an itty bitty Ignatian baby step and adopt the practice of a Daily Examen.

According to,
The Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us.  The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience.
To get a jump-start on adopting this practice, read this fantastic primer on the Daily Examen with FAQ by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff of  Deacon Bickerstaff provides a succinct explanation on the spiritual benefits of making a Daily Examen:
A necessary part of advancing in the spiritual life and forming a deeper relationship with God is to examine ourselves, praying that God will reveal to us our soul as He sees it. This act of self-examination is referred to as an examination of conscience or an examen.
We should make the examen a part of our daily prayer. When we do not – when we leave too much time between our examens – we are not able to remember the failings and the successes we have had. Without this clarity, it is difficult to either make a good confession or to take corrective action in our lives.
If you are not in the practice of making a daily examen, Lent (that is now) would be a good time to incorporate the practice into your daily prayer.
At the bottom of his article, Deacon Bickerstaff offers a possible format for your Daily Examen that sounds perfect for a little Ignatian baby like myself.  Perhaps Philip and I can adopt this practice of inserting it into the Night Prayer of the Church's Liturgy of the Hours.  

I like this format because it would give Philip and I some structure to our evening prayer, readings from Sacred Scripture, time for individual reflection, and an opportunity to commend our spirits to the Holy Trinity.  Sounds pretty solid to me!  In addition to what Deacon Bickerstaff recommends, I found a detailed Examination of Conscience to read through as I make my Daily Examen.

I'm already blown away by Pope Francis' seemingly singular focus on finding God's will and being His instrument in his daily life.  May we all strive to emulate this holy man's docility, obedience, and service for love of God.  I pray that I'll become a little Ignatian-Franciscan hybrid like Pope Francis.  By adopting the Daily Examen into my prayer life and pondering the words of the Prayer of St. Francis, I hope to emulate the Holy Father's example.  
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace,
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong,
I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to
comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.
Pope Francis in Prayer
Do you make a Daily Examen?  What format do you use?  Can you share any tips or advice for this Ignatian-Franciscan hybrid wannabe?

1 comment:

  1. Whaaaaaat I thought the Exaamen was just an excuse for a Friday morning snooze in KOK's classes! :)