The Colloquial Examen

August 2nd, 2020 Posted in Uncategorized

Saint Ignatius of Loyola was convinced of the value of what is called the Examen, a way of searching one’s day in order to become aware of where God was operating and ask how I could improve my praise, reverence, and service of God.

The Examen can be made in a very formal and organized fashion, starting by putting oneself in God’s presence, invoking the Holy Spirit, reviewing the day, looking to the next day, and ending with an Our Father.

But Ignatius suggested other ways to pray, for instance using our imaginations by imagining ourselves in a situation or gospel story often ending with making a colloquium with God. A colloquium is a way to pray in which a person would speak to God in a familiar way, like friends talk with each other.

Last summer I was working at a parish in Omaha, and almost every day for six weeks a very good friend of mine and I would either meet for lunch or take a break in the day to sit outside at a coffee shop, enjoying the day, a cup of coffee, a roll or ice cream, and talk — often starting out by one of us asking the other something like, “So, what’s been happening in your life today?”

I wondered if my Examen could be done in a similar way, and I have found that imagining God and I meeting up like that, asking each other what we’ve been doing or thinking about, is a good way for me to pray the Examen. And since (no surprise!) God and I and seem to be not always thinking about the same things, it helps our relationship grow.

If you practice the Examen, you may prefer the more traditional and formal way; but you might also want to try what I’ve come to call the “colloquial Examen.” I’ve never been disappointed when I pray the Examen that way.

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