The Examen


The Examen or the Consciousness Examen (NOT the Examination of Conscience usually done before confession) is a non-negotiable spiritual exercise that marks those whose spirituality is Ignatian. It is therefore taught and practiced in the MAG+S Program (18 – 30 years old), and is introduced in the Ignatian Youth Camp (14-17 years old).

This spiritual exercise is repeated every day. It takes about 15 minutes and contains the following five steps:

Step 1. Gratitude and presence. We make the sign of the Cross and ask ourselves the question: what am I grateful to God for? This gratitude puts us in the presence of our good and generous God— with this God, we can talk about the day we have just spent. If gratitude does not come to us easily, we can stay on this step for the whole quarter-hour – this is the most important part of the Examen.

Step 2. Request for the light of the Holy Spirit. In order to discern different movements in us, we need God’s wisdom. We ask the Holy Spirit for His Wisdom; and He helps us discover His inspiration; we can see our day through His eyes.

Step 3. Discernment of the motions. Recall all special moments and internal motions. Coming back to it, we try to see what caused such motions and where they lead us. Do they lead us closer to God or away from Him? Do we follow or avoid God’s inspirations? Do we surrender to temptations or resist them? Does it make me a better person, or does it make me worse?

Step 4. Remorse/Adoration. If we surrender and/or neglects temptations, which move us away from God, we can now express our remorse and enjoy God’s mercy. If we accept God’s inspiration, we can worship His presence and His works in us.

Step 5. Tomorrow. Before we finish the Examen, we briefly ask God that our hearts may become more sensitive to spiritual motions and grow in discovering and accepting God’s works in our life.

We finish this very special quarter-hour (15 mins) with the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.

*This article is lifted from the MAG+S 2016 Poland manual.

** Another article for the Consciousness Examen is here.