September 12, 2012
Regular readers of this blog know that I participate in Colleen’s Sabbath Moments meme nearly every week. She describes Sabbath Moments this way:
Sabbath moments are a way of taking time to rest in God, to enjoy God in silence or in nature. The word “Sabbath” comes from a Hebrew word meaning “cease.” And that is what we need to do sometimes; cease our activity and live in the moment and breathe in God.
Why is this meme important? Chiefly because it causes me to reflect on the many God-encounters and God-incidences I experience daily in my life. It helps me live a God-centered life.
The spiritual practice from St. Ignatius of Loyola called “The Daily Examen” is similar to Colleen’s meme. It takes all of 10-15 minutes to do unless you want to take longer.
St. Ignatius, who gave us the Jesuit motto: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (A.M.D.G.- To the Greater Glory of God), requires all of his followers to make a daily examen midday and evening. In this booklet we learn why:
St. Ignatius stated that the key to a healthy spirituality was to find God in all things and work constantly to gain freedom in your life in order to cooperate with God’s will.
This daily exercise he called the Examen and he suggested that it should be prayed twice daily– with the practice allowing people to hear God in their hearts and with the daily practice be able to discern God’s will for them in their lives.
Both Colleen’s meme and St. Ignatius’ Examen prompt us to form the habit, in the midst of our busy days, of connecting with God briefly and seeking His will for us in the present moment. To make an Examen ask the following questions:
How is God present to me in the events of this morning (afternoon)? With the help of the Holy Spirit, sort out the many events of the day and ask God to give you wisdom and understanding.
What should I thank God for today? Consider both pleasant and unpleasant events, both little and big things. God is perfecting you in the smallest pleasure and the biggest downer you face each day.
What feelings did I experience in today’s events and why? St. Ignatius said that we find the Holy Spirit in the movements of our emotions, signaling directions God may wish us to take. Are we worried about someone? Perhaps God is telling us to reach out to that person. Are we angry or frustrated with a situation or person? Perhaps God is calling us to greater patience, or maybe to take an action we’ve held back from doing.
Of all that has happened, what will I converse with God about? Ask God to teach you what He wants you to learn.
What do I want to pray about concerning tomorrow? Ignatian Spirituality.com has this recommendation about preparing for tomorrow:
St. Ignatius encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend. End the Daily Examen with a conversation with Jesus. Ask forgiveness for your sins. Ask for his protection and help. Ask for his wisdom about the questions you have and the problems you face. Do all this in the spirit of gratitude. Your life is a gift, and it is adorned with gifts from God. End the Daily Examen with the Our Father.
Forming the habit of the Daily Examen helps calm our souls and in an excellently structured way deliberately makes God a priority in our day. No matter how busy we are, our chances of discovering the Sabbath Moments that infuse our lives with grace and peace grow greater using this almost 500 year old spiritual practice. In the process, we grow closer to God and receive the graces necessary to be victorious in conforming ourselves to His will.
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