Over the past several weeks in our message series, Holy Triage, we’ve been trying to muster the courage to look into ourselves, see where our weaknesses lie, and take action on them. But that can be a really tall order, especially if we don’t know where to begin.
Spiritual blindness, today’s topic, comes when we fall into denial about our “problem” areas and don’t take the time to be introspective. Sometimes, that spiritual blindness comes from a willful desire to turn away from God. But more often than not, it comes from a place of confusion or tiredness — we know that we need to grow in certain areas of our spirituality, but we’re not sure how best to do that. And in the chaos of everyday life, it’s easy to give up spiritual growth as a proverbial “bad job.” Cultivating a daily habit of introspection can help you avoid this.
For me, praying the Examen has been a wonderful gateway to unstructured reflection. The Examen is a Jesuit prayer, created by Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius broke the monastic convention of his time, which called for the religious to pause their work at least three times per day to pray, by asking his followers to pray the Examen instead, not interrupting their daily life to do so, but taking care to live completely as God would desire.
There are five steps to the prayer, which can be prayed either at night or in the morning. First, become aware of God’s presence: look back on the events of the day, and reflect on how God acted in your life that day. Did God send challenges, blessings, or both your way? How and when did you see God today? Next, review the day with gratitude. Try to think of five things that you are grateful for that day, big or small — you can be thankful for good health and a supportive family, or thankful for something as small as being able to open your eyes. Then, pay attention to your emotions. How are you feeling right now? How did you feel throughout the day? Did you feel even-tempered or fired up? What is God saying to you through these feelings?
Next, choose one element of the day to pray from. Ask for wisdom from the Holy Spirit to discern something from the day that God thinks to be particularly important — it could seem significant or insignificant to you. Allow prayer to come organically from your heart; do not force it to come out. If prayer doesn’t come naturally, that may not be the moment of the day God is directing you toward. Finally, look toward tomorrow. Ask God to give you strength for tomorrow’s challenges, whatever they may be — seek God’s guidance and do not be afraid to ask for help.
End your reflection with a conversation with Jesus, who calls us to reach out to him. Ask for wisdom, grace, hope, or whatever feels relevant that day. End with a prayer, formally lifting yourself up to Christ and his Father. Taking time to examine yourself each day will help overcome spiritual blindness.
--Claire Kosewic, Staff Bulletin Writer
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