I mentioned briefly in my first Catholic Women’s Almanac post (lovingly shortened to just CWA) that I was reading 33 Days of Morning Glory by Michael E. Gaitley, MIC. When you read, how are you with the footnotes? Do you flip to the back of the book and take the risk that you might lose your page or worse, your train of thought, to read more about a particular point? It’s almost as if the author is taking your face – much like my 5 year old when he wants me to really pay attention to something – and pointing you to something that could give you a deeper understanding. I always read the footnotes. What can I say? I like risk, but mostly it’s because footnotes are usually really interesting, and contain helpful tidbits of knowledge that can lead to other…books, theories, thoughts, anything! I strongly encourage you to do the same – but invest in a bookmark just to be safe.
My point is this, dear friends, I found a tidbit that I thought was a secret, precious, hidden jewel. Turns out, it’s not new – but it’s still a precious, jewel and for that reason, I will share. Ever hear of the Daily Examen? St. Ignatius? Well, it’s a prayerful reflection on your day. There are different variations on this prayer.
Here’s the more common one (that I would use from Ignatian Spirituality) where one…
1. Becomes aware of God’s presence.
2. Reviews the day with gratitude.
3. Pays attention to their emotions.
4. Chooses one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Looks toward tomorrow.
But then, I read about this one, in the footnote of 33 Days of Morning Glory. Now, generally footnote explanations are short and quick, but this was 2 pages long – and all with a new way (for me) to pray the Examen! All you have to do is remember the word BAKER. First and always, you come into prayer with God. For me, it’s as simple as The Sign of the Cross and sometimes a little something extra like a personal intention prayer for making a good, honest Examen.
B – Blessings. Count ’em up. Start at the beginning of the say and walk through it with the lenses of finding blessings. You’d be surprised at what was originally something you didn’t pay much attention to, during reflection becomes a blessing. For example, now I’m sharing here…I keep iridescent flat stone bead things (don’t know what they are called, they’re just pretty) in my purse to remind me that I am special and loved by God. When I root around in my purse, looking for my keys and grumbling to myself because my purse is Narnia and I can never find anything, I will sometimes stumble across my bead, take it out and look at it. Just that quick millisecond reminder, to me, is a blessing. God told me I was special even in that moment of grumbling.
A – Ask. Now here are where your intentions and prayers come in. Your big asks. The moon, stars, patience (or not), wisdom, help with a particular situation. Prayers for your fellow blogmunity. You name it…here is where it goes.
K – Kills. I know – it’s not all roses people. Where did you fall short? Why? What feelings, thoughts or projections were in the room with you? For example, I mentioned that my step-son is coming to visit. Now, this is how far back this “Kill” goes. He asked once when he was living with us, to go to church with him. At this time, NO one in my home spoke of God, went to church, mass, knew what a sacrament was or thought about it. I think this was a way that God was trying to get in – and I slammed the door shut. Ugh. What a kill. What did I say to my step-son then? “Umm, sorry. I’m not getting up that early, but if you do, feel free. There’s a church down the road”. And that was it. I’ve carried that “kill” for a few years now. I know what you’re thinking. This is a Daily Examen. Stay with me…
E – Embrace. As in God’s embrace. Ahhhh that’s good. See, this is a mental connection for me that despite my “kills” (or sins really) God really does love me and will pull me close even when I don’t want to be close to myself. Let Him envelop you in forgiveness, mercy and love. Gaitley says that what could be helpful is the image of the Divine Mercy and the light pouring fourth from His heart. Personally, I go with this image from weknowmemes.com (don’t giggle. Ok. Maybe giggle a little bit.)
I should write more about why this is the image – quote included – pops into my head for this part of the Examen.
R – Resolution. Here’s where we “knead the dough” – so to speak. If you spoke ill of someone how can you make it up to them and catch yourself before you get caught in that trap again? Look ahead to the next day and be ready to make some resolutions about how to center it on Christ…even more. Or, if thinking back to that old “Kill” a few paragraphs back, I could look at my step-son and say “Wanna go to mass with me?” Did you see that? God is knocking again and this time He’s coming in because my door is W-I-D-E open! Now that’s my kind of resolution.
Anyone practice this before? What do you think? Why do you like it or why don’t you?
Shake off the day and bake! (ok, enough with the bad puns.)