The Field Guide: How to Make a Nightly Examen

A nightly examen is a way to recount our actions throughout the day and acknowledge where we chose to respond to God’s grace and where we chose otherwise.

A nightly examen is a way to recount our actions throughout the day and acknowledge where we chose to respond to God’s grace and where we chose otherwise. St. Ignatius of Loyola thought that the examen was “a gift that came directly from God, and that God wanted it to be shared as widely as possible.” One of the few rules of prayer that Ignatius made for the Jesuit order was the requirement to practice the examen twice daily—at noon and at the end of the day. It’s a habit that many Christians practice to this day.

Practicals

The examen is to be practiced at the end of each day. The following is a simplified form of how to do a nightly examen.

  1. Call to mind God’s presence before you. God is right there with you through the good and the bad.
  2. Review the many blessings of the day. This can’t be overlooked. Go through the day slowly, acknowledging the many blessings the Lord has poured forth upon it. (Did you see the sun today? That is a blessing. Did you take a breath today? That is a blessing.)
  3. Acknowledge your sins and shortcomings. Honestly review and name the times and places that you failed to accept the grace the Lord was giving you. Thoroughness is important here.
  4. Make a resolve and call upon the Lord. Resolve not to commit the same sins again the next day. Then, beg the Lord to grant you perfect contrition and to provide you the graces you need to live completely for him, especially in the moments you know you are most weak.
  5. Be filled with hope and joy. The Lord is grateful for your commitment to freedom, to your family, to on—going conversion, and to him. He desires your sanctity even more than you do. Rest peacefully knowing that God is with you.

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