“A Check on Our Availability: The Examen” by George Aschenbrenner, SJ

Excerpt from Quickening the Fire in Our Midst by George Aschenbrenner, SJ

A Positive Understanding of the Examen

  • The formal examen, instead of being a negative practice of moralistic judgments, should rather be a time of prayer about how much God has loved me in the existential details of my day and how that love could have blessed me even more in certain situations if my inner spiritual decisiveness and external presence had been a bit different (180).
  • In this way, the daily effect of my sinful condition is not to tear down self-worth but to build up true apostolic humility, which itself is the source of genuine self-esteem (181).
  • We must avoid turning the examen into a quick, superficial reflection on the day.
  • RATHER, it is a time of prayer chiefly concerned with God’s love for me – the gratitude of a sinner learning about God’s awesome love.

The Examen is Essential to Availability

  • The Examen is the primary means to maintain the disposition of apostolic availability.
  • Apostolic availability = a profound faith-experience that roots our identity and security in God’s love (rather than our job, place, reputation, need for change, etc)
  • ** Formal examen –> always a means to Informal examen (special faith-sensitivity that is with us all through the day 24/7).
  • Formal examen = we hold up our day to be seen against the light of God’s love.

Availability and Discernment

  • Particular examen = focus on the flaw or weakness that now is most keeping us from this fuller apostolic availability.
    • This flaw or weakness = not so much something that we decide on but rather what God will reveal in the desire that all of us be more and more available to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in our world.
  • When we direct our attention & effort against this, we become more available.

The Examen: An Action-Reflection Model

  • The Examen is NEVER for itself, nor is it directed to a self-centred sanctification leading to a suffocating introspection
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