Tuesday, January 07, 2014

The Ignatian Examin--Praying Backwards Through Your Day

I wanted to recommend an article on the Ignatian Examin (or Examination of Conscience).

I've tried examines that basically ask you to focus on the sins committed during any particular day and found that to be difficult and discouraging for someone prone to depression as I sometimes am.

This particular style of examin asks you to pray backwards through your day by looking at it through the feelings it brings up.

Dennis Hamm, S.J., the author of the article, breaks this examin up into 5 sections.

After asking for inspirational light from the Holy Spirit, you then give God thanks for what you are grateful for throughout your day.  I have recently done a month of gratitude on Facebook (during the month when America celebrates its Thanksgiving holiday) and found it to be a very rewarding and attitude-changing experience.  Starting with the positive aspects of each day is a good way to encourage you to continue this practice.

Next you go through the day and note what feelings come up--both positive and negative.  This leads to the next step, giving those feelings to God through prayer.  Focus on one particular feeling that comes up and pray from that feeling.  Give it to God and let Him know all about your day and how you felt.

Lastly, you look towards the future.  Go over what you know about what will (or may) happen tomorrow, and ask God for clarity and help. Look at what feelings come up when you think about tomorrow and let prayer flow from that. Whatever comes up during these prayer times that is less than loving, we can bring to confession.

The mnemonic for this technique is LT3F:  Light, Thanksgiving, Feelings, Focus, Future.

I think many of us who are Christians have a reluctance to both face our sins (who wants to do that?) and bring all of our feelings to God.  We think we must be perfect in front of God instead of treating Him like the loving Father and good Friend that He is.

I want to encourage you to read the linked article  and try this prayer method.  Focusing on what feelings our daily experiences bring up and taking them to God in prayer helps us to check the idea that God is uninvolved or that all depends on us. God can only heal us if we let Him.  If we push our feelings and experiences away when we try to pray, we also push God away.

He wants to heal you.  Let Him.


Michele said...

Excellent post. Being a sufferer of OCD, and prone to depressive episodes, this would be a good thing for me to do as well. i am very conscience of when i sin, and i always say the act of contrition every single day. It has become a regular habit of mine. Sometimes, i've even said it 5 times a day.

Sometimes, i am so overwhelmed by the sin of man, that I can get a bit down, and prayer helps alot it really does. I also say, Jesus, I trust in You!

Staying in Balance said...

I love the rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet when I get overwhelmed like that. You can only give it up to God, who is in control.

Michele said...

I've had a really hard day, and I'm kinda down today. But since Jesus is my greatest Hero, I offer it all up to Him. He thinks I am worth it, so I guess Iam.

Staying in Balance said...

I'm so sorry you are feeling down, Michele. You absolutely ARE worth it!!!!

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"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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