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Consciousness examen the prayer method of choice of St. Ignatius Loyola…
The Examen of Consciousness (the Examen) is specifically self-examination in regard to the ethical and moral norms by which one has chosen to live. This method of prayer was practiced in ancient India, Egypt, and the Far East and in the Greco-Roman world. It is implied throughout the Bible and found in the teachings of the Desert Fathers and monastic traditions. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits and author of The Spiritual Exercises, deemed it his desired form of prayer and required his followers to undertake the Examen daily.
The key to maximizing the results of this prayer method is to strive for a relaxed attentiveness to inner movements and feelings as a way of “feeling God in all things”, of discovering the unique action and call of God to you and your response to that call. Remember, however, that God seldom acts in a dramatic fashion. More often than not he enters our day in a very subtle way. Thus your discernment should be conscience of these seemingly insignificant signs such as the beauty of nature, the happiness engendered by a child’s laughter or the peaceful glow of sunset – all of which represent the movement or call of God.
Once you perfect the Examen it becomes a prayer of such valuable intimacy with Christ, that like St. Ignatius, you never exclude it from your day, even though other forms of prayer may have to be shortened or omitted.
A special acknowledgment to Rev. David Fleming, S.J. author of Draw Me Into Your Friendship - a literal translation and contemporary reading of the Spiritual Exercises and The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia for the above commentary on the Conscience Examen.