Examining the examen…and my past month!

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I just finished reading Jim Manney’s A Simple Life-Changing Prayer, a reflection and guide on praying “the daily examen.”  Though the examen is an ancient practice, Manney writes about it within the context of St. Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. (Ignatius founded the Society of Jesus, an order of Catholic priests also known as the Jesuits, in the 16th century and the Spiritual Exercises was a practical guide instructing the Jesuits and others on how to experience the presence of God.)  The examen itself is a method of prayer in which one reflects on the events and experiences of the day in order to detect God’s presence within them and therefore live with increased sensitivity to the movement of the God in one’s self and one’s life.  If the examen is a “how to manual” on experiencing God, then Manney’s book is a how to manual on praying the examen.Cover Image Manney Read more

Contemplating Attention, Cultivating Appreciation

Woman WritingI have an inkling that there is a direct correlation between attention and appreciation.  Increased attention to the stuff of life – books, conversations, scenery, foods, people, tasks, and so on – leads to an increased appreciation of what could otherwise be easily overlooked.  For an example, I find that annotating articles or books helps me pay closer attention to the ideas expressed in them, so that regardless of the extent to which I like or dislike the piece of writing, I am more able to understand and appreciate the point the author made.  The more I take notes, the more I pay attention, and the more attention I pay, the more I appreciate.  Read more