Beloved Friends on the Way,
At every turn in the writings of the spiritual doctors of the Church you will find an emphasis on the need for self-awareness. This self-awareness is not the kind encouraged by psychologists or self-help gurus. Instead, it is what I call a “Godward self-awareness.” This awareness is a self-reflection against the reality of God’s presence and will and our divine design and destiny. This reflection prayerfully considers who we are in light of who God is, what He has done for us, and the glorious heights to which He has called us on this narrow ascent into union with Him.
This awareness brings holiness and love for God because it simultaneously reveals our brokenness and, when properly embraced, draws us to lean into the great love of our Savior – our Divine Physician. This self-reflection leads us to the floor in repentance and receives the gentle hand and embrace of Jesus as He lifts us to new life and reveals a new path of holiness in and through Him.
There are several ways that we can acquire this potent awareness. The most basic is practicing at least one daily examen. This is a simple encounter with the Lover of our souls at the end of the day wherein we ask Him to help us see the past hours of our day with His eyes – to reveal to us who we are, who He is, how we have lived together in this day. Have we walked together, or apart? Have we offended or taken Him for granted? Have we failed to love Him through holy self-giving to others in need? Have we succeeded in loving Him and those He has placed in our care or on our path? Have we rejoiced in Him and expressed our gratitude for our ability to love as He loves?
Apostoli Viae proposes a daily examen as an essential practice of those committed to the Way. To assist you in your journey, we also offer guidance in the same. The following is an outline to help draw you into the place where you can better see and follow the One who can and will set us free from every hindrance to our divine ascent into His heart.
DAILY EXAMEN PRAYER and GUIDE
1) Before reflecting on your plan of love or commitments, sit a moment in silence, preferably before Mass, during adoration or before night prayer. Recognize and acknowledge the loving gaze of the Blessed Trinity upon you. Make the sign of the cross and pray.
Dear Lord, you know my heart and my soul better than I know myself. You know my sin, my imperfections and those things which keep me from You and from living in the fullness of love for you and those You have placed in my care. Show me my sins, my imperfections and how I have both honored and failed you.
I beg you to help me to rejoice in the successes that have come by Your grace and to turn from choices I have made that reveal sin and selfishness within me. Please help me now as I examine my actions to see what You see and to express my humble gratitude for successes that You have granted by Your grace and to seek forgiveness for times when I have failed to give all that I am to You.
Help me to humbly acknowledge my failures and rest in Your redemptive provision knowing that without You, I can accomplish nothing, but with You, I can overcome these failures to Your glory and continue to embrace Your virtues by Your grace.
Your love is worthy of all my love. Help me to return that love with joy and to see You and to follow You in all I think, say, and do.
2) Review your plan of love slowly and silently – indicating where you have seen progress and need to make better progress. Listen to any promptings of love and direction. Each time you make a cross “+” give praise to God. You might offer praise like, “Thank you Lord Jesus.”
3) For those areas where you have failed, indicate such with an incomplete cross or “-“. Recognize that this failure is a part of the cross and a realization of your need for God to complete the work you failed to complete. Ask for forgiveness as a child when a loving parent looks on them with joy because the heart of the child is rightly oriented to the truth and desires to please them. Say something like, “I am sorry Lord, please help me to better serve you.” Accept the Lord’s love and forgiveness. Reject any negative self-talk, self-focus or self-condemnation that focuses on you rather than God’s redemptive work in your soul.
4) Conclude your time with thanksgiving for progress made and a commitment to correct your failures with the Lord’s help. Make the sign of the cross to conclude your prayer acknowledging His profound love for you in His sacrifice on your behalf and His commitment to draw you to Himself through both your failures and successes.
If you have yet to implement a plan of love or examen in your daily practice, I strongly urge you to consider it as we enter into this powerful journey of Lent.
Unum est Necessarium,