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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

Reimagining the Ignatian Examen

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism

This is a very useful book for all of us.  Saint Ignatius of Loyola created the examen to be a very short (1/4 of an hour) twice-daily prayer: such as when we were hurt by something that happened to us, or when we sinned or made a mistake or when we give praise and thanksgiving for the blessed moments.  We ask forgiveness and healing for the difficult and painful moments and we give praise and thanksgiving for the blessed moments. it can be prayed at any time that is most convenient. Most people enjoy praying the Examen during their lunch break and in the evening as they are winding down. 

I was introduced to the Examen after I began reading James Martin’s books and conducted a book group on Come Forth. In the Examen, we review our recent past to find God and God’s blessings in daily life.  We also look back to find moments in the day when things didn’t go well. We try to anticipate: which moments might go one way or the other for us: toward God’s plan or away from it. We ask, for insight into what graces we might need to live this next day well: patience, wisdom, fortitude, self-knowledge, peace, optimism.  We ask God for that grace, and we trust that he wants us to succeed in our day even more than we do. That’s the basic idea behind the Ignatian Examen.  Ignatius would say that this should be the most important moment of our day. Why? Because this moment affects every other moment.


Specifically, how do you do the Examen?

Give thanksgiving

Ask for the Spirit

Review and recognize failures,

Ask for forgiveness and healing,

Pray about the next day.

To help remember the five steps: use this pneumonic

Relish, Request, Review, repent, resolve.


The ultimate in this book is the same to experience an encounter between God and the stuff of day-to-day life. But asking slightly different questions every day will yield slightly different results and that will keep the experience dynamic and energizing. One simple method on the first day of the month, place your bookmark on Exmen#1 and use that Examen to reflect upon your life.  The next day move to Examen #2, and so on.  At the beginning of the new month, move the bookmark to #1 again and start all over.  There are thirty four Examens, so you can go through the month while skipping two or three that don’t work as well for you. This is a great book to have on your shelf as a guide for your everyday. It is a great book to give to a friend to help the in strategizing their day.

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