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The Examen on the Spiritual 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: an encouraging word from a friend, support from a coworker, a moment of quality time with your child or spouse, …
  • 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 gossip about someone’s perceived or real failings, causing injury to their reputation?
  • Did you damage their good name or lower their esteem in others’ eyes? 
  • Did you make a hasty judgment about someone, without knowing the whole story? Did you rush to attribute bad motives to their words or actions?
  • Did you lose your temper?
  • Did you correct someone to really help them to improve, or did you merely vent complaints to get something off your chest?
  • Did you brood over injuries? nurse resentments? 
  • Did you refuse to help someone?
  • Is there someone in your life whom you’ve not forgiven?
  • Is there someone you would not pray for?
  • Have you lost hope in a part of your life?
  • 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.