Back to Diocesan Website

The Examen on the Corporal Works of Mercy

First Movement: Be Mindful that You are in God’s Presence

  • Ask God to help you to listen to the deepest part of your heart, so that you can become aware of and examine what moves you toward or away from God.
  • Trust that God will touch your memory and surface in your heart what is most important for you to see. Let God work in you.

Second Movement: Be Thankful to God for the Gifts of the Day and of Life

  • Spend a moment looking at the day’s gifts and graces. 
  • Be very specific and concrete: a satisfying meal, a place to call home, a caring friend, good health, the freedom to build a better life… 
  • Notice what first comes to mind. Pause briefly and be thankful.

Third Movement: Review Your Day for Sins or Resistance to God’s Grace

  • Most of us avoid seeing where we’ve fallen short in our friendship with God, mainly because we lack trust in God’s love for us. 
  • But God already sees our sins and failings and wants to heal us and forgive us. 
  • He wants us to see ourselves as He sees us, honestly yet with compassion. 
  • Briefly review the day, listening to your heart. 
  • Did you fail to bother to love your neighbor? 
  • Have you volunteered at a soup kitchen or food pantry? brought meals to the homebound? 
  • Have you offered to drive the elderly and the sick to doctors’ appointments? 
  • Do you regularly donate clothing from your own closet? 
  • Do you buy new items for those who cannot afford them? 
  • Are your clothing “bargains” paid for by the poor (even children) working in sweatshops? 
  • Are you aware of and willing to take action against the horrific crime of human trafficking, especially the sexual exploitation of minors? 
  • Are you hospitable to all who come to your parish? to your home? 
  • Do you receive everyone as you would Christ? 
  • Could you help provide job skills and employment to the poor, the homeless, and those released from prison? 
  • Do you provide or support affordable housing initiatives in the Bay Area? 
  • Know that Jesus sits beside you and looks on you with compassion. 
  • And He will help you to realize that God does not love you because you are good; you are good (and become better) because God loves you.

Fourth Movement: Ask for God’s Healing and Forgiveness

  • Ask God to heal the wounds and bent places in your heart. 
  • God wants you to experience the freedom and joy of being forgiven. Ask God to forgive you. 
  • Be concrete and specific about your contrition. Please forgive me for…. 
  • If you realize that you need to go to Confession for something, resolve to go that week. 
  • Know that Christ is joyful at your contrition. 
  • He is touched by the trust you place in his mercy.

Say an Act of Contrition:

My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart.
In choosing to do wrong
and failing to do good,
I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things.
I firmly intend, with the help of your grace,
to do penance, to sin no more,
and to avoid whatever leads me to sin.
My Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for me.
In His name, may God have mercy.

Fifth Movement: Close with the Lord’s Prayer

  • End your Examen by praying the Our Father. 
  • Listen closely to the meaning of the words. 
  • Believe that the Father looks on you with boundless love.
How does praying the Examen help you to be a “witness to mercy” in your daily life situations?

See Inviting God Into Your Life, by Fr. Bill Watson, SJ., pp. 13-16.