Year of the Examen

The Year of the Examen grounds us in prayer--in this case, a prayer Ignatius deemed an indispensable daily exercise for any Jesuit and pilgrim of the Lord. With its emphasis on God intimately at work in our personal, day-to-day lives, the Examen prayer is mighty in its relation to the mundane.

Across the year, all member of the Prep Community will be invited into experiences of the Examen in all of its fruits and graces, awakening us to the myriad applications and implications of this simple prayer for our professional and personal lives.

Meanwhile, the Society of Jesus recently called all those on mission to recommit to "Showing the Way to God: Discernment and the Spiritual Exercises." The Year of the Examen is a direct response to this call from Rome, as the Examen is a microcosm of the Spiritual Exercises; an entry point into the discernment of spirits; and a way that invites us more deeply into reflective, loving relationship with God and each other.

So, Prep Citizens: this is our shared call, and our response--action that is hope-filled, faith-charged, life-giving, justice-seeking--finds direction and location in our daily reflection on experience through the small, profound gift of the Ignatian way.

Script for Colleagues to Introduce the Examen/Year of the Examen to First-Period Classes

Script for Colleagues to Introduce the Examen/The Year of the Examen to First-Period Classes:

This year is the “Year of the Examen” at the Prep. The Examen is a prayer St. Ignatius deemed an indispensable part of the day. On each Wednesday morning this year, we will pray the Examen with our first-period classes from 9:05-9:15. You will find that your first-period teachers across the year will guide you in a variety of ways in the Examen.

The Year of the Examen was borne out of a need at the Prep to place more reverence on prayer, in this case the Examen prayer, on a consistent basis. As the Examen is the foundational prayer of St. Ignatius, and embodies the way of Ignatian Spirituality, it is quite literally at the center of our week and life this year at the Prep, on Examen Wednesdays.

In each Examen experience, you will be invited to center yourself and be present and attentive as you enter into prayer. You will then be invited to consider what you are grateful for, and where God has been present to you in your life lately--through friendships, family, classes, practices, a brief conversation with a teacher that made you think, understand, or laugh, or a small moment that moved your heart in a real way. You will also be invited to consider where you haven’t lived up to your best and to ask for forgiveness as you head into the rest of the day.

The Examen is important to us and our faith because it assumes that God is with us and for us in our life in a very personal, daily way--through the people we love, through the people who are here to help us grow, through our friends, and through the events of each day. When we pray the Examen, we acknowledge that God is all around us, working to love us and to show us the way to love. By praying the Examen, we become more aware and attentive to God at work in our lives. We become more grateful for the small gifts God gives us, and we realize more clearly how to respond to God’s daily invitations to each of us to become better Men and Women for and with Others.

On that note...we begin the Examen prayer...

When the prayer concludes, you can direct students to check out the Year of the Examen homepage (accessible through www.sjprep.org.).

Ready-to-Use Examen Scripts for Classroom and Meeting Use

The following scripts work for Examens both in the classroom and Colleague Examens/Meeting Examens. Just adjust/tweak the Examen accordingly.


EXAMEN SCRIPT FOR CLASSROOM USE/MEETINGS-Option 1

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Call to mind that we are in the holy presence of God.

As we begin our examen together, reflect on those times where you have experienced God this past week. Think of times you were most aware of how much God loves us, when you felt challenged by God to serve more generously, or when you saw God at work in someone else.

Pause 1 minute

What are you most grateful for this week? Thank God for all of the graces and blessings we have shared this week.

Pause 1-2 minutes

Look over at all you have done this week. Who did you meet? What work did you accomplish? What feelings or emotions did you feel throughout the week? What moments surprised you? Which moments brought you joy? What memories will remain with you from this week?

Pause 2-3 minutes

What times have you struggled or failed? When did you fail to act as a man for and with others? Think of these times ask God for forgiveness and thank God for His mercy.

Pause 1-2 minutes

Look to the future. Think of all that you learned this week. How will it help you in the week ahead? How will your work this week influence your actions from now on?

Pause 1 minute

Let us pray,

Dear Lord, teach us to be generous.

Teach us to serve as you deserve.

To give and not to count the cost.

To fight and not to heed the wounds.

To toil and not to seek for rest.

To labor and not to ask for any reward.

Except of knowing that we are doing your will.

St. Ignatius, pray for us

St. Joseph, pray for us

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

EXAMEN SCRIPT FOR THE CLASSROOM/MEETINGS- OPTION 2

Good morning. Please quiet yourselves for prayer. We will spend this time as a community, praying the examen together.

This is a prayer experience spent in Gratitude.

Call to mind the many gifts that God shares with you and ask yourself what you are most grateful for.

Become more aware that you are in the presence of God.

Begin this prayer by centering yourself and become fully aware that you are in the presence of God.

What am I grateful for now?

As you become more aware of God’s presence in your life and the love He has for you, ask to receive everything with a heart full of gratitude.

Pray that the Spirit Enlighten you so that you become more aware and more grateful of God’s presence in your life.

Now Look Back over this past week.

Allow God to guide you in your prayer, helping you to become more aware of his presence, and his love for you. (pause 1 minute)

In this past week, where did you experience God (pause 1 minute)

For what moments are you most grateful? (pause 30 seconds)

Spend some time with God savoring these gifts.

What feelings or thoughts surface as you recall these moments? (pause 30 seconds)

As you look back were there moments during the week where you were ungrateful for God’s gifts or turned away from Him presence?

Speak to God about these moments and seek God’s Forgiveness. (pause 30 seconds)

Look to the Future and finish your prayer by asking the Lord to draw you closer to Him and help you be more mindful and more grateful for His many gifts to you. (pause 30 seconds)

St. Ignatius… pray for us.

St. Joseph… pray for us.

Amen.

EXAMEN SCRIPT FOR CLASSROOM/MEETINGS - OPTION 3

Good morning, Prep. This morning, we’ll spend a few minutes praying the Examen together. Please take a moment, wherever you are, to stop what you’re doing and be still. [pause, wait for silence]

Become aware of where you are. Notice the floor under you, the sounds coming to your ears. Pay attention to your breathing. At the start of another busy day, take a moment just to be still. We ask God to come and be with us during this time of prayer. [pause, 30 seconds]

The examen is rooted in gratitude. As we begin our prayer, look back over the past week and call to mind one thing that you are grateful for, on gift that you received. Maybe it was time spent with a good friend, a productive rehearsal or practice, a challenge you received from a teacher, a meal with your family. What are you grateful for right now, at this moment? [pause, 30 seconds]

Now. look back over the past week and ask God to show you a moment where you felt God’s presence. Where did you feel most alive; where did you feel joy or peace? Maybe you were on the stage, on the field, in the classroom, on the bus, or with friends. Go back to that moment and dwell there again. What do you notice about it? How did you feel at that moment? [pause, 30 seconds]

Now, ask God to show you a moment in the past week where maybe you came up a little short; where you weren’t the person that God is inviting you to be. Where did you respond to those around you with ingratitude, or without love? Was there a moment in the past week when you responded like someone only for themselves, and not for others? [pause, 30 seconds] Ask God’s forgiveness for this. [pause]

As we bring our prayer to a close, look toward the future. Having looked back over your week, what do you want to ask God to do for you today and in the coming week? Be bold! Ask God for big things. [pause, 30 seconds]

St. Ignatius… pray for us.

St. Joseph… pray for us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Examen Script for Classroom/Colleague Meetings - Option 4

An Examen to begin the Day

To begin our day together, we will pray the examen. Let us take a moment to leave the busyness of the day, become quiet, and call to mind that we are in the presence of God.

Pray for the grace for the Spirit to be present with you now and be mindful of God’s love in your life. [pause 30 seconds]

Allow something to come to mind for which you are really thankful for at the moment – another person, an achievement, your life, an experience.

In this spirit of gratitude, ask God for the grace to trace the last day and to bring to mind many of the things you have listened to and heard, to the people you met and interacted with, and to the tasks you accomplished. Recall where God was most present to you throughout the last day. [pause 30 seconds]

As we turn our attention to today, think about how you are feeling right now. Anxious or nervous? At peace? Excited? Why do you think you are feeling this way? What may God be speaking to you through this? [pause 30 seconds]

Think of the challenges you will face today. Are you dealing with conflict, tension, or uncertainty? How is the Lord inviting you to live more generously through these challenges? Pray for the strength to persevere with love, gentleness, and compassion. [pause 30 seconds]

Look ahead to the full day to come. Where would you like to be most attentive? Which parts of the day will nourish you most–even if they might be challenging. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your help and guide. [pause 30 seconds]

St. Ignatius, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Examen Script aimed for Colleague Examens (can be adjusted for Classroom Use) - Option 5

Adapted from “Examen of the Day for Managers” by Paul Campbell, SJ

To begin our day, let us pause to pray the examen together. Become aware of where you are. Notice the floor under you, the sounds coming to your ears. Pay attention to your breathing. At the start of another busy day, take a moment just to be still. We ask God to come and be with us during this time of prayer. [pause, 30 seconds]

As you become more aware of God’s presence in your life and the love He has for you, ask to receive everything with a heart full of gratitude.

Pray that the Spirit Enlighten you so that you become more aware and more grateful of God’s presence in your life. What are you grateful for now?

As you look back over the last day or week at the Prep, what have been the high points of your time here? Was it time with colleagues or an interaction you had with a student? Can you discern a pattern in what constitutes high points? What can you do to increase the number of these high points? [pause, 30 seconds]

Reflect on a time where you felt you were working at your best during the day. Recall as many details as you can. What made it your best work? Were you working alone? With others?

Who brings out the best (and worst) in you? Why? Where was God present in these moments? [pause, 30 seconds]

Now think of times when you struggled to stay focused and engaged. What were you doing that challenged your focus? Was this an isolated incident, or is this something you deal with a lot of the time? How do these moments affect your relationship with those around you? How can you lean on others for support? Ask God for support and comfort during these times. [pause, 30 seconds]

Look toward tomorrow. Are you going to make any changes in your demeanor, communication styles, or attitudes? How can you make each interaction you have a chance for others to feel loved, accepted, and welcome? Pray for the grace to love more generously. [pause, 30 seconds]

St. Ignatius, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Examen Script focusing on the Power of Words/for Classroom/Colleague Meetings - Option 6

Examen of the Power of Words - Reviewing What We Have Heard

(This Examen might be used after an assembly or presentation, hearing a guest speaker, or a liturgy.)

To begin our time together, we will pray the examen. Let us take a moment to leave the busy-ness of the day, become quiet, and call to mind that we are in the presence of God. [pause 30 seconds]

Allow something to come to mind for which you are really thankful for at the moment – another person, an achievement, life, an experience.

In this spirit of gratitude, ask God for the grace to trace the last day and to bring to mind many of the things I have listened to and heard. Ask the freedom to be reminded even perhaps of some things I half-heard or tuned out. [pause 30 seconds]

As I go through the day, I re-hear some of the words that have come my way. They may be snippets of conversations with those around me, or perhaps something inspirational or challenging from a colleague, or a guest speaker. Were these works uplifting or challenging, or a source for further exploration? Did they sadden or annoy me? Did they make me laugh or think deeply? Which did I enjoy? [pause 30 seconds]

What reaction or emotion followed? Why do you think you reacted that way? What was God speaking to you through these words or your reaction? Give thanks for what you have heard.

Now recall what you choose not to hear, or to ignore? Who do you have trouble listening to? Have you been unreasonably or hurtfully closed-off? Am I content with that, or would I like to make a change? Tell God about how you feel. And ask for God’s help to do better. [pause 30 seconds]

Look ahead to the day to come. How is God inviting you to act? Where would you like to be most attentive? Which words will nourish you most–even if they might be challenging. Ask the Word of God, to be your help and guide. [pause 30 seconds]

St. Ignatius, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

5 Ready-to-Use Traditional Examen Scripts

Examen #1-Traditional Examen

  1. Recall that you are in the presence of God. "God, I believe that at this moment I am in your presence and you are loving me."
  2. Ask for help from the Spirit. "God, you know my needs better than I know them. Give me your light and help as I review this day."
  3. Review your day. "God, help me to review the events of this day in order to recognize your blessings and my shortcomings."
  4. Ask for pardon and give thanks. "God, I ask your forgiveness for my failings and I thank you for all your blessings."
  5. Resolve to listen to God's voice. "As I look forward to the rest of this day make me aware that you are with me, show me how to become the person you want me to be."

Examen #2-Jim Manney

  1. Pray for light.
    Begin by asking God for the grace to pray, to see, and to understand.
  2. Give thanks.
    Look at your day in a spirit of gratitude. Everything is a gift from God.
  3. Review the day.
    Guided by the Holy Spirit, look back on your day. Pay attention to your experience. Look for God in it.
  4. Look at what's wrong.
    Face up to failures and shortcomings. Ask forgiveness for your faults. Ask God to show you ways to improve.
  5. Resolve what to do in the day to come.
    Where do you need God today? What can you do today?

Examen #3-David Fleming SJ

A Prayer to God

God, thank you.

I thank you, God, for always being with me, but especially I am grateful that you are with me right now.

God, send your Holy Spirit upon me.

God, let the Holy Spirit enlighten my mind and warm my heart that I may know where and how we have been together this day.

God, let me look at my day.

God, where have I felt your presence, seen your face, heard your word this day?

God, where have I ignored you, run from you, perhaps even rejected you this day?

God, let me be grateful and ask forgiveness.

God, I thank you for the times this day we have been together and worked together.

God, I am sorry for the ways that I have offended you by what I have done or what I did not do.

God, stay close.

God, I ask that you draw me ever closer to you this day and tomorrow.

God, you are the God of my life—thank you.

Examen #4-Jim Martin SJ


The Daily Examen

The examen, or examination of conscience, is a quick prayer to help you see where God was active in your day. Usually done for 15 to 20 minutes at the end of a day, the prayer was popularized by St. Ignatius Loyola in his classic text The Spiritual Exercises. Use these five easy steps to pray the examen every day, and soon you’ll begin to notice God’s presence more easily.

  1. Presence: Remember that you’re in the presence of God in a special way when you pray. Ask God for help in prayer.
  2. Gratitude: Recall two or three things that happened today for which you are especially grateful. Savor them. Then thank God for these gifts.
  3. Review: Review you day from start to finish, noticing where you experienced God’s presence. Notice everything from large to small: from an enjoyable interaction with a friend to the feel of the sun on your face. When did you love? When were you loved?
  4. Sorrow: You may have sinned today or done something you regret. Express your sorrow to God and ask for forgiveness. If it’s a grave sin, pray about seeking forgiveness from the person offended, or the sacrament of reconciliation.
  5. Grace: You may want to return to a meaningful part of your prayer and speak to God about how you felt. At the close of the prayer, ask for God’s grace for the following day.

Over time, as you pray the examen, you’ll notice God’s presence in the moment, rather than just at the end of the day. You’ll see that your whole day can be a kind of prayer. Soon you’ll discover that you’ve become, as Jesuits like to say, a “contemplative in action.”

Examen #5-Dennis Ham SJ


A Method: Five Steps

  1. Pray for light.
    Since we are not simply daydreaming or reminiscing but rather looking for some sense of how the Spirit of God is leading us, it only makes sense to pray for some illumination. The goal is not simply memory but graced understanding. That’s a gift from God devoutly to be begged. “Lord, help me understand this blooming, buzzing confusion.”
  2. Review the day in thanksgiving.
    Note how different this is from looking immediately for your sins. Nobody likes to poke around in the memory bank to uncover smallness, weakness, lack of generosity. But everybody likes beautiful gifts, and that is precisely what the past 24 hours contain–gifts of existence, work, relationships, food, challenges. Gratitude is the foundation of our whole relationship with God. So use whatever cues help you to walk through the day from the moment of awakening–even the dreams you recall upon awakening. Walk through the past 24 hours, from hour to hour, from place to place, task to task, person to person, thanking the Lord for every gift you encounter.
  3. Review the feelings that surface in the replay of the day.
    Our feelings, positive and negative, the painful and the pleasing, are clear signals of where the action was during the day. Simply pay attention to any and all of those feelings as they surface, the whole range: delight, boredom, fear, anticipation, resentment, anger, peace, contentment, impatience, desire, hope, regret, shame, uncertainty, compassion, disgust, gratitude, pride, rage, doubt, confidence, admiration, shyness–whatever was there. Some of us may be hesitant to focus on feelings in this over-psychologized age, but I believe that these feelings are the liveliest index to what is happening in our lives. This leads us to the fourth moment:
  4. Choose one of those feelings (positive or negative) and pray from it.
    That is, choose the remembered feeling that most caught your attention. The feeling is a sign that something important was going on. Now simply express spontaneously the prayer that surfaces as you attend to the source of the feeling–praise, petition, contrition, cry for help or healing, whatever.
  5. Look toward tomorrow.
    Using your appointment calendar if that helps, face your immediate future. What feelings surface as you look at the tasks, meetings, and appointments that face you? Fear? Delighted anticipation? Self-doubt? Temptation to procrastinate? Zestful planning? Regret? Weakness? Whatever it is, turn it into prayer–for help, for healing, whatever comes spontaneously. To round off the examen, say the Lord’s Prayer.
    A mnemonic for recalling the five points: LT3F (light, thanks, feelings, focus, future).

Do It

Take a few minutes to pray through the past 24 hours, and toward the next 24 hours, with that five-point format.

Additional Ways to Lead the Examen Prayer

Website Examen Prayers

The following sites will provide text that can read aloud to guide an examen prayer.

  • An Ecological Examen This examen focuses on creation and provides a images and text. This examen would be read aloud to those you are leading.

  • The Daily Examen (Xavier University) This examen would be read aloud using the traditional examen format.

  • Reimagining the Ignatian Examen Flip Book: Gratitude. The theme of this examen by Mark E. Thibodeaux, S.J., is gratitude. It can be read aloud to those you are leading. You may need to adapt and personalize the language to those you are leading.

Audio Examen Prayers

App Examen Prayers

  • Download Reimaging the Examen by Mark E. Thibodeaux, S.J. from the App store. This App contains several examen prayers on a variety of themes that can be read aloud those you are leading.

  • Download the Jesuit Prayer App. There you will find a script for praying the examen. This can be read aloud to those you are leading in the prayer. The Jesuit Prayer App also offers several other excellent resources.

Podcast Examen Prayer

Video Examens: Watch, Listen, Pray

  • Ask Iggy: Praying with the Examen. This three minute video produced by the Jesuit Post provides a good overview of the Examen prayer.

  • A Guided Examen produced by Strake Jesuit High School (YouTube Video that is 2 minutes in duration)

  • The Daily Examen produced by Discerning Hearts (YouTube video that is 5 minutes in duration). This video will guide those you are leading in an examen simply play the video.

Additional Resources for Leading the Examen

  1. Reimagining the Examen by Mark Thibodeux SJ in both the book form and app form are excellent ways to enrich our encounter with the Examen prayer. Fr. Thibodeux offers a variety of Examens particular to our various emotional, spiritual and physical needs and life circumstances. As described on both the book and app, “Reimagining the Examen offers a unique prayer experience that’s tailored to your needs and mood. Each Examen, based on St. Ignatius’ 500-year old prayer, guides you through a stimulating reflection on your day, helping you invite God into your nitty-gritty. Choose an Examen that matches your current state of being, or pray today’s scheduled reflection.”

  2. Sample Examens You Will Find Through Thibodeux

    • Traditional
    • Am I Free or Unfree?
    • Ask for Grace
    • A Relationship
    • Uncovering Hidden Truths
    • Was I Present or Absent?
    • Shifts in My Spirit
    • Am I Ready to Die Today?
    • Identifying Inner Wounds
    • My Daily Habits
    • Fears, Attachments, Control, Entitlement

     

  3. How to Pray the Daily Examen
    This article presents a method of praying the Examen that is adapted from a technique described by Ignatius Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises. St. Ignatius thought that the Examen was a gift that came directly from God, and that God wanted it to be shared as widely as possible.

  4. Recommended Reading Material
    The Examen Handbook: A Guide for Leading Others Through The Prayer of the Examen by Ross Jones, S.J. (PDF Format)

Foundational Articles on the Dynamics and Fruits of the Examen

“Rummaging for God: Praying Backwards through Your Day”

“Reflection and Our Active Lives”

Explore More Examen Articles Here:

Prep Community Read: Jim Manney's "A Simple, Life-Giving Prayer"

During the Year of the Examen all in the Prep community are encouraged to read Jim Manney's book, A Simple Life-Changing Prayer. If you would like to read Manney's book, you can order on Amazon by clicking here. All faculty and staff will read Manney's book in the summer of 2019 as preparation for the year.

For most people most of the time, prayer is hard. It is especially difficult—not to mention unsatisfying—when people experience it as formal, dry, and repetitious. But what might happen if you discovered a simple prayer that changed all that? What if you discovered a prayer that changed you?

In A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer, Jim Manney introduces Christians to a 500-year-old form of prayer that dramatically altered his perception of prayer and the way he prayed. The prayer is the examen, which St. Ignatius Loyola developed for the purpose of nurturing a reflective habit of mind that is constantly attuned to God’s presence. What makes the prayer so powerful is its capacity to dispel any notion that God is somewhere “up there,” detached from our day-to-day tasks and concerns. Instead, the examen leads us into a relationship with a God who desires to be personally caught up in the lives of those whom he created.

By following five simple yet powerful steps for praying the examen, as Manney outlines in his book, we can encounter the God who, as Scripture tells us, “is not far from each one of us”—the God whose presence in our lives can make all the difference in the world (Amazon Review)

“The Examen changed everything for me”...read the Preface of Manney’s book here.

The Examen changed everything for me, but it almost didn’t happen. For years I had occasionally heard people talk about the Examen as a good way to pray. I went to a Jesuit college; I remember one of my teachers saying that St. Ignatius Loyola himself thought that the Examen was the indispensible prayer. But I wasn’t interested because I thought they were talking about the Examination of Conscience.

This was the methodical inventory of sins that I was taught to do as a boy in Catholic schools in the 60s. I would work my way through lists of faults, toting up my offenses in preparation for the sacrament of Confession. This was a grim exercise. Also a confusing one. Lying I understood, and eventually I knew what lust was. But what was “acedia?” (It means spiritual laziness.) At any rate, the charm of the Examination of Conscience wore off as I grew older. I set it aside and moved on to other things (not all of them improvements). When people talked about the Examen, this is what I thought they meant. I wasn’t interested. I thought it was just the thing for people who like that kind of thing, and I wasn’t one of them.

Then I learned that the Ignatian Examen was not the old depressing Examination of Conscience. Quite the opposite. This was a prayer that focused on God’s presence in the real world. It looked to a God who was near to me, present in my world, and active in my life. It told me to approach prayer with gratitude, not guilt. It helped me find God in my life as I lived it, not in some heavenly realm beyond space and time. The Examen had me take myself seriously, as I am, not as I wished I was or thought I could be someday if I worked hard enough.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Examen changed everything. It might change things for you too.

In Manney’s words...

“The examen is an immediate solution to the problem of ‘what do I pray about?’ The answer is: everything that's happened to you. today. You might have the impression that your everyday life is the dreary same old, same old. It isn't. Daily life is rich and meaningful. Every encounter, every challenge, every disappointment, and every delight is a place where God can be found.” -Jim Manney

If you would like to read Manney's book you can order it on Amazon by clicking here.

Video Resources Re: Examen Prayer

  • Jim Manney Talks about Praying the Examen
    The Examen is a method of reviewing your day in the presence of God. Jim Manney, author of A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer, talks about praying the Examen.

  • Jim Manney on Praying with Our Feelings--and Conversion
    Praying with your Feelings

  • Into the Examen
    This video from St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco features a student trying out the Examen for himself. A teacher suggests the prayer to the student. In the face of worrying about a test, he looks back on the past 24 hours to notice where he has been distracted and what he can do to focus and take care of what’s bothering him.

Why Examen Wednesdays?

The Examen at the Prep/Examen Wednesdays in 2019-2020

The Year of the Examen was borne out of a need at the Prep to place more reverence on prayer, in this case the Examen prayer, on a consistent basis. As the Examen is the foundational prayer of St. Ignatius, and embodies the way of Ignatian Spirituality, it is quite literally at the center of our week and life this year at the Prep, on Examen Wednesdays.

We might note that while many of us have prayed the Examen, and as many colleagues have prayed the Examen in Advisory with our students, we might not have much experience in the Examen ourselves, or want more understanding about the dynamics of the Examen, the microcosm of the Spiritual Exercises as it is. Or, more in tune with last year’s reality, we just couldn’t hear the prayer because of the fickle loudspeaker, or because that speaker doesn’t reach our location in the building. We might note that our students sense this disjointedness, too, and don’t authentically buy-in, let alone pray. For these reasons and more, programming in Ignatian formation this year--The Year of the Examen--will engage us in a re-imagining of the Examen in practice and principle in our various arenas and roles at the Prep.

There are as well the theoretical reasons the Examen is a sound reference point for programming. In the Ignatian tradition, this prayer is the foundational, life-giving formula for us and with us as loved sinners, people of reflection and discernment in light of the magis, a prayer that grows and deepens with time, age and experience, and one that assumes a sacramental view of day-to-day reality—one Ignatius deemed an absolutely indispensable part of the day. It is these reasons as well that call us--transcendent of our particular roles--to see the Examen as a reference point for programming as well as an underlying principle for our work, at once prayerful and pragmatic.

The Society’s recent identifying “Discernment and the Spiritual Exercises” as one of the four Apostolic Preferences (issued in February) further confirms and inspires the Examen as a framing, guiding vision and theme. On that note, as we look to the horizon, these Apostolic Preferences--Showing the Way to God: Discernment and the Spiritual Exercises, Walking with the Excluded, Caring for Our Common Home, and Journeying with Youth--will serve as valuable themes for our community to explore both now and in the next four years. Integrating these four core priorities into the plan and mission of our work and programming seems not just axiomatic but incumbent in nature for us as a Jesuit school.

The Year of the Examen will be at once prayerful and educational, as it roots us not just in the experience of this prayer, but also considerations of the prayer's myriad applications and implications for our personal and professional practices.

This brings us to Wednesday mornings, when each first-period teacher will facilitate the Examen prayer with students in first-period classes. Quite literally, the Examen is at the center of our week, built explicitly in the bell schedule to emphasize the Examen as a core practice of our faith. This is but one small way we will hold our faith central to all we do this year.

Held in this exercise of prayer, sharing, and action, the Prep community prays and walks together in this faith, with the deepening of the life of Christ in each heart--and the renewal of our Ignatian identity and Jesuit mission at our home at 17th and Girard--as the great hope.

A Letter from Fr. Swope

Dear Prep Citizens,

The 2019-20 academic year will bring many wonderful opportunities to our home at 17th & Girard. We will welcome Mr. Andy Cavacos as the 26th Principal of our outstanding school as well as the 218 members of the Class of 2023. It is always so exciting to have the chance to illuminate our new students with the unique Jesuit teachings passed down from St. Ignatius of Loyola through more than 500 years through generations of Jesuit priests, educators, and students.

As we work to ensure that our students receive a first-class Jesuit education, we continue work on our strategic plan, Many Parts One Prep. The first goal of the plan is “Live our Catholic and Jesuit Identity.” I applaud the work of the Ignatian Engagement Committee, a working group of this goal consisting of dedicated colleagues, and join them in announcing that 2019-20 will be the “The Year of the Examen.” Across this year, our entire community will rediscover Ignatius’ small, life-changing prayer as a means to deepen our relationship with God and with each other. This year of Ignatian prayer also aligns us with the first of the Society’s recent issuing of four Universal Apostolic Preferences, “Showing the Way to God: Discernment and the Spiritual Exercises.”

In addition to the “Year of the Examen,” the IEC designed and created a manual for Ignatian Formation Programming for all colleagues, new colleagues, students and parents for 2019-20 and beyond. This programming is inspired by an underlying principle, undergirded by an Ignatian vision that the committee was also charged to articulate. That vision roots itself in the Examen, in all of its myriad dynamics--but most centrally its location of the divine in all things, and its daily invitation to discerning God at work in each other and our lives. The Ignatian Engagement Committee proposed both this year’s theme and Ignatian formation programming after researching formation programming at over 35 Jesuit high schools across the country, taking into account our unique context and community at St. Joseph’s Prep.

As we are all Citizens of Prep Nation, we are invited to join in enhancing our Ignatian journey, no matter where on that journey we may be. I encourage you to visit the Prep homepage for more information and resources on the Year of the Examen, and to consider reading Jim Manney’s A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer. This summer, all colleagues will read Manney’s book, which is widely considered the most accessible, essential guide to the Examen and the riches of Ignatian Spirituality more broadly.

Whether you find yourself on the beach, in the mountains or traveling abroad, I encourage you to observe the graces that God has put in your line of vision. Take a few moments of gratitude for the community with a focus on what we can achieve together in the service of God.

Sincerely,

Rev. John W. Swope, SJ ’72
President

The Call from Rome

In February, the Society of Jesus completed a 16-month discernment process that involved considerations of where all those called to serve should focus their ministries over the next ten years. Jesuits and lay representatives from across the world collaborated in prayer, discussion and graced reflection that resulted in four "Universal Apostolic Preferences."

The first of these preferences, "Showing the Way to God: Discernment and the Spiritual Exercises” inspired and confirms the Prep's Year Examen as a framing, guiding vision and theme 2019-2020.

As we look to the horizon, these Apostolic Preferences--Showing the Way to God: Discernment and the Spiritual Exercises, Walking with the Excluded, Caring for Our Common Home, and Journeying with Youth--will serve as valuable themes for our community to explore both now and in the next four years. Integrating these four core priorities into the plan and mission of our work and programming seems not just axiomatic but incumbent in nature for us as a Jesuit school.

Ignatian Engagement Committee Members

The Ignatian Engagement Committee (IEC) originated in 2018 in order to actualize the Strategic Plan objectives of Pillar I, "Living our Catholic and Jesuit Mission." The IEC was charged with developing recommendations for an integrated, comprehensive, cross-institutional program in Ignatian formation, with this program undergirded by an Ignatian vision, as incarnated here in the Year of the Examen. The IEC consists of current working colleagues at the Prep:

Susie Cook, Committee Chair
Dr. L. Stew Barbera '86, P '17 '20
Mark Dushel
John Fife '98
Chuck Frederico, SJ
Tara McFadden P '20 '22
Dino Pinto

St. Joseph's Preparatory School
1733 West Girard Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19130
tel: 215.978.1950
fax: 215.765.1710
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