Why Try the Examen?

Millennial writer Mike Jordan Laskey writes:

The heart of the examen, which is most often done at nighttime, is reviewing your day in gratitude, replaying the events of the day like a video recap in your mind. It’s not just a straight play-by-play from morning through evening, though. Instead, you’re mining your own experiences to notice gifts: moments or people or things that gave you a little glimpse of God at work in your life. The key idea is that there is always grace and goodness available to us wherever we are, but we often don’t notice it…

My favorite part of practicing the examen is that in the times of my life when I’ve committed to it consistently, its impact goes way beyond the 10 or 15 minutes I spend with it in the evening. I start to notice the little moments of beauty and meaning as they’re happening in real time. And when I’m aware of God’s presence in my life as it’s unfolding, I’m generally happier, kinder, more grateful, less bogged down by minor inconveniences.

I become more aware of patterns, too. One element of the examen is reviewing your shortcomings over the course of the day — not to beat yourself up, but to see where you might have room for growth. (I try to call to mind God’s gentleness and mercy when I get to this part!)

On a recent evening, I noticed during my examen that I had more than once been short with my wife about tasks she had asked me to help with during the day. After I caught that slip-up, I thought about why I might have fallen into that pattern. I called to mind how much my wife does to keep our family running and how I probably contribute less than I think I do. I can let that realization improve my response the next time she asks me to do something. Without the examen, my impatient episode would have faded into memory with the hundreds of other small hurts and slights that come with marriage. But by noticing it and bringing it to spiritual reflection, I can learn from it and become a better husband and person.

You can read the full article here.