Monday, October 16, 2006

New Link Here: Spiritual Exercise for the Week

Spiritual Exercise for the Week is the title of my new blog which visitors may link at this blog, To Find Fruit.

Parishioners of Gesu Parish, University Heights, Ohio, and visitors to this site have noticed that I close my Sunday homilies with a spiritual exercise for the coming week. Each exercise is based on two things:
  1. the Sunday scripture readings; and
  2. the favored method of praying of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
That formal name of his method is the Consciousness Examen. An examen was the Latin word for the tongue or fulcrum of a balance. Ancients weighed something opposite a known weight until the two were in balance.

St. Ignatius modeled and insisted his Jesuit companions do the Consciousness Examen twice a day. God and all the ways God was revealed (virtues, the commandments, the eucharist, the life of Jesus, Mary, the saints, and so forth) and the way God works in human lives are the "known weights" to which we try to bring our lives in balance.

The Consciousness Examen, or a more accessible name, Awareness Examen, has five steps spread over 10-15 minutes. [They are not equally spread over the time. In fact, if one spent all the time in step 1, one would profit from the examen. When I began learning this way of praying, I found I lingered longer in step 1 for many months. Take a week to add one step to the next: that's is a recommendation I have made which several people warmly weclomed.] Here are the five steps.

* * * * *
  1. I begin by resting in the Trinity. I relax myself, trying to focus myself on the Trinity, perhaps one Person more than the others, perhaps all of them. I use whatever helps me to become more aware of God smilingly lovingly on me.
  2. Then I consider my day, or a part of the day since the last time I did this Awareness Examen. In my consideration I allow graces and gifts to surface on my mind and heart; as one does I speak to God, expressing my gratitude for it, and I allow our conversation to follow its course. (I listen for the traces of how God has communicated to me earlier.)
  3. I consider how I lived my day by noticing choices and actions or inactions. Which one was in synch with Jesus' gospel? which was not in synch with it? I "weigh" each against Jesus manner of living and against Jesus' gospel. This need not be exhausting. Like my gifts, choices and actions will surface, too, because I am quietly in touch with God-with-me.
  4. I focus on one choice or action, choosing any criterion: the most challenging; the most frequent; most or least distinct, the one with which I am most or least satisfied, and so forth.
  5. a) If my choice was in synch with Jesus and his gospel, I praise Jesus. I ask Jesus for the grace to help strengthen my way of choosing so that I may repeat it tomorrow. b) If my choice was not in synch with Jesus and his gospel, I exress my sorrow. I ask Jesus for the grace to diminish that way of choosing has over me so that I will not repeat it tomorrow.
I close with an Our Father.

* * * * *

The Spiritual Exercise for the Week is based on several of these steps, especially, praising, speaking gratitude, conversing with Persons of the Trinity and desiring to live more in synch with Jesus, patterning my life on his living, dying and risisng. Its blog makes clear that the Spiritual Exercise for the Week is meant to jump-start people's praying in order that they can deepen their relationships with God. Each person will go where no pray-er has gone before!

At the end of the weekly exercise are tips for keeping track of journeying with God. Such a record has a single purpose: to assist in developing, conditioning and sanctifying one's life as a friend and disciple of Jesus today.

The 10-minute spiritual exercise for this week may be found by visiting


Enjoy your week! --Faithfully, Fr. Panaretos

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