Ignatian 'EXAMEN' for our schools


The Examen for Our Students

And Teachers



A Guide for Leading Others in Jesuit Schools

through the Prayer of the Examen


JEA SA Secretariat

225, Jor Bagh,

New Delhi 110003








Dear friends,

Examen for our schools was originally prepared by the Australian Jesuits

 for their schools. It is an excellent way to help all,

Especially, our students and teachers to

Get attune with the spiritual aspect of one’s life.

The booklet came to the notice of the ICAJE members

 and it decided to adapt the handbook according to our context.

Accordingly we have made some necessary changes and

 made available to our schools.

It is good for all of us to take it up and make it a part

of our Jesuit school system every day.

Get this booklet copied/printed and give to all the teachers of your school.


This booklet will make our school distinct and our students

And staff more reflective and inward-looking,

amidst their noisy world.


Remember, “Ignatian spirituality is holistic (complete, all-round). If our Jesuit

educational philosophy embraces the formation of the whole person

(mind, heart and hands), then our spirituality embraces the whole world.

We do not impose a spirituality on the world, but sensitively discern the

presence of God already active in the world. So there is no dichotomy,

but a synthesis of matter and spirit, body and soul, reason and faith,

culture and belief”.


I am sure this booklet will be an Ignatian experience for all.


Sunny Jacob S.J.

JEA Secretary SA












Theology of the Examen




The Basis of this Ignatian Spirituality


The Examen


Effect of the Examen


General Format of the Examen

  (Some Background for Staff to Explain the Sequence)


College Diary Awareness Examen


Examen for Young Boys


Examen for Older Boys


The I/We Examen


The Faces of Others Examen


The Novices’ Examen


The Monday Examen


The Freedom Examen








Spirituality is the way a person makes sense of, or makes connections

between, themselves, others, creation and the Other. There are many

spiritualities according to different faith traditions (eg, Christian, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains,

Buddhist, Muslim), and many spiritualities within each of those traditions.

There are some spiritualities that do not include God (eg; some New Age



Ignatian spirituality is defined in a few ways. The most succinct formula is

“finding God in all things”. One of the early companions of Ignatius

described it another way as “being a contemplative in action”. Both say

the same thing. For Ignatius, the world is user-friendly. You can find God

“outside”. Monks contemplate God mainly in their chapel choir stalls.

Jesuits find God “in action”, in their engagement with the world as well as

in church.


When Ignatius founded a religious order (which he never originally

intended) he ensured that his men were not to be tied to monastic

communities like the monks or friars for prayers, but were to be free to

be on mission and trusted to say their prayers individually rather than

communally. God’s presence was not to be tied to a church or chapel or

prayer room, but found in all things.


For Ignatius God is certainly to be found in

traditional ways (scripture, liturgy, sacraments,

etc) but also in creation, in human history, and

in other people. And God can certainly make

himself present directly (eg, appearing to

Moses, to St Paul, in Jesus, and to many saints,

including St Ignatius. But God more often

reveals himself indirectly – in manifestations,

little epiphanies, tell-tale signs, God’s traces.


The Basis of this Ignatian Spirituality


Some critics have said this Ignatian spirituality is simply the error of

pantheism, that is, everything is God (God is the mountain, God is the

tree, God is the other person, etc). Not so – this spirituality proposes that

God is to be revealed in the beauty of a mountain or a tree, or that God’s

Spirit dwells in the other person. God, the Creator, is at all times greater

than his creation.


Our starting point is incarnational theology. It is a theology that is rooted

in this world. Not an “up there” or “other worldly” approach. The world

is God’s creation and God’s gift to us. God has affirmed its goodness, for

example, in the Genesis creation account – “God saw that it was good”.

Then, in a cosmic act of emptying and compassion, God’s Son took flesh

(in-carnation) and became one of us. Therefore creation is doubly sacred

– as God’s gift to us and with God’s indwelling. Incarnational theology

holds that God is to be discovered working in human history, in ongoing

creation of the world, and in ourselves.


Ignatian theology and spirituality is easy to teach and to appropriate,

because it springs from our lived experience.


Ignatian spirituality is holistic (complete, all-round). If our Jesuit

educational philosophy embraces the formation of the whole person

(mind, heart and hands), then our spirituality embraces the whole world.

We do not impose a spirituality on the world, but sensitively discern the

presence of God already active in the world. So there is no dichotomy,

but a synthesis of matter and spirit, body and soul, reason and faith,

culture and belief.


Each informs the other. There is no partitioning of the world, two realms,

God’s kingdom versus the world, neither speaking to the other. Rather

there is a complementarity. Grace builds on nature.


Those with an Ignatian spirituality experience a God who may be

encountered on a weekday, as well as a Sunday. They can point out the

face of Christ, not only in sacred icons that adorn our walls, but also in the

faces of our sisters and brothers. God is to be found in classrooms and in

chapel, in learning and in living, in ourselves and in the other.

The Examen

On the basis of this theology and this particular spirituality, Ignatius

encouraged his followers to use a particular prayer wherein the prayer

would recall those moments in the day when they felt God’s presence,

and those times when we might have drifted from God. It goes by various

names: The Examen, Awareness Examen, Examination of Consciousness

(not Conscience only).


It is called Examen (from the Latin) not meaning an exam or a test (and

therefore a “pass” or failure”) but more like a “review” of progress. It is

called an Awareness or Consciousness Examen because it is a review of

how you have been aware, or conscious of, God’s presence in your day. It

is not only an Examination of Conscience (which, in the traditional sense,

is a review or tallying of one’s sins, usually before confession) though this

might form part of it.


It is easy to review the day. We have a natural facility for it. How many

of us can easily re-enact a quarrel we had during the day? How readily

we think of that cutting, clever thing we might have said to our foe! But

we also know how to re-live good and precious moments of the day —

intimacy, friendship, God’s peace. Such recollections can even make you

smile again. We all have that ability. The Examen builds upon that



In practising the Examen, we consider questions like:


– where did I meet God during the day?


— how attuned am I to God speaking?


— what is leading me away from God?


— how do I block God?





Effect of the Examen


Regular use of the Examen in prayer reminds us of God’s active presence

in the ordinariness and the extraordinariness of our day. It also reminds

us of where we have been navigating off course, bearing away from our

true selves and away from God.


In addition, for the purposes of refining our skills of discernment (making

right choices in important matters), the Examen keeps us in touch with

the movements within our heart that are reinforcing what our true

desires and hopes for ourselves are – what is life-giving and ultimately

fulfilling (and therefore what God wants of us, too).


General Format of the Examen


(Some Background for Staff to Explain the Sequence)




Sense of God’s Presence and Thanksgiving


Have the boys become still with some centring (stilling/quietening)

exercises. Since this prayer is about interiority, ask the boys to sit

comfortably, put things out of their hands, quieten down, close their

eyes (they may like to rest their heads on their arms if they are at a

desk). Invite them to leave all distractions, “busyness”, thoughts of

things to be done, aside. Be still. [This could take about 30-60



Invite the boys to thank God for something (one thing will do) for

which you are grateful today. This reminds you of your relationship

with God: Creator and creature, Giver and gifted. [This could take

about 35 seconds.]




Prayer for the gift of the Spirit – Enlightenment


Have the boys ask the Holy Spirit for the gift to review the day (or the

time since the last Examen) honestly with integrity – not to be

selective, not to filter out the less-than-good, but to be objective and

see themselves as they are. Or, maybe they could ask for the gift to

see the day through Jesus’ eyes. [This could take about 20 seconds.]







Review of the Day


When asking the boys/girls to review their day, ask them to recall simply

the most significant events or feelings. What was significant? Where

was their heart lifted? Where were they touched by the God’s Spirit?

What event do they enjoy remembering? What do they think was

the basis or the cause of the enjoyment? What was God saying to

them there? Where was there any negative or false spirit (or Spirit)

at work? What did they learn? What do their actions, thoughts,

desires, feelings, tell them about their relationship with God?


Encourage them to stay for a time with what is fruitful. They should

not feel driven to spend time with every feeling and experience of

the day.


Not too many words or instructions here – give them space to let the

memory surface. Prompt and stand back. [This might take 2







Ask them to have a conversation with God. Talk to God about what was significant. Maybe contrition (an expression of sorrow for something recalled) is appropriate.

If there is no conversation, then it is not strictly prayer, but simply a review of the

day or a self-help exercise – and this is also valuable! [This might

take 20 seconds.]




The Future


What help might they ask of God for tomorrow? Is there something

difficult ahead, a challenge? Do they need to be reconciled with

someone? [This might take 20 seconds.]


Conclude with a simple well-known prayer (eg, Glory Be, Lord’s Prayer,

Prayer for Generosity, Hail Mary) and Sign of the Cross. Invite them to

“come back to the room”, to the present, when they are ready.











First try to relax and be at peace.


Thank God for something you are grateful for.




Ask God to help you look back over the day.


3 & 4 Ask yourself:


What are the good things that happened to me today?


What good things did I do today?


I thank God for all these things.


Now ask yourself:


What was not so good about today: the things that annoyed me,

frustrated me, hurt me, mad me feel sad?


Ask God to help you with these things.


I also ask myself what things did I do today that were not so good.


I tell God that I am sorry for these things.




Now look ahead.


Ask God to help you be a better person tomorrow than today.


Finish with the prayer that Jesus taught us: the Our Father.
































It is very important for us in our context, where children are overburdened

with a variety of subjects, and also tuitions/ coaching etc.

The country is having a system of education

 which is memory oriented instead of encouraging critical thinking.

Selfishness and competitiveness are growing.

Religious and cultural divisions make education meaningless.

There is not much attitudinal change that happens when it comes to equality and justice.

Here comes an in-ward looking, examined life, that is part of our education.

So follow it….and see the changes in quality.  









Begin with some centring, quietening down. Maybe rest heads on

hands on desk.


Thank God for something special you are aware of.


Go over the day in your mind.


What was the best thing I heard?


What was the best thing I saw?


What was the best thing someone did for me?


What was the best thing I did for someone else?


Is there anything I regret or feel sorry for?






Tell something to God about your day as a friend talks to a friend.


What can I do to improve tomorrow?






Conclude with a “Glory Be”.












Quiet and Thanksgiving

Spend a moment settling down and letting go of distractions. Clear

our minds.


As we look over the day, we seek to appreciate all the good things

that have happened to us and to thank God for these.




Asking for Insight

We now pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit to help understand

ourselves better. We ask for the wisdom to see ourselves more



Looking at Our Day

Now ask yourself how we have spent our day. Why do we act the

way we do? Is it from love? Generosity? A deep desire to be helpful

to others? Is it from selfishness? Pride? Fear? Confusion? Tiredness?

Frustration? How have we felt today? What is the source of those

feelings? As we ponder our behaviour today, we begin to see

patterns and connections, which open our eyes to our own goodness

and generosity as well as our weakness and self-centredness.


We Ask Forgiveness

We now turn to Christ, admit our sinfulness and ask forgiveness.

Whilst this is a moment of sorrow, it is also one of wonder and

gratitude at God’s love, and of desire to do something for God.


Looking to Tomorrow

Finally, as we look to tomorrow, we ask for God’s grace and help. We

ask to touch particularly those areas, which have come into focus

during our prayer. Are there some attitudes in us that we would like

Him to change? Are there some decisions we need to make? Would

we like to be more sensitive to God’s presence in our day? Ask for

what you need.








Conclude by saying the Prayer for Generosity.









Relax in the presence of God. Be aware of God’s loving presence in,

and all around you.


Thank God for everything God has loved into your life since your last





Beg to be given the ‘mind and heart of Christ’, to see the reality as

Jesus sees it. Reflect prayerfully over your day.


Go through the day with the Lord, checking the “WE”, what Jesus and

you experienced together, against the “I” alone.


As you reflect over the day, then, see everything about which you can

say “WE” (even if you were not conscious of His presence at the

time). For example: WE ate breakfast; WE went off to work; WE did

our chores; WE were truthful when it really mattered.


And see what you cannot say “WE” about, but have to say “I”. For

example: I got angry with those children; I judged that person rashly;

I failed to be kind to that one.




As we prayerfully reflect over our day in this way, God makes us

keenly aware of the ways in which God touches us and is present to

us all during the day. It is clear when we have walked other ways.

Talk to God about it.


Renew in love your sorrow for ever disappointing or offending our

Father, and convey that to God.




Accept an invitation God gives you to repair any damage, and behave

better next time you face the same kind of situation in which you

failed today.




End by praying the Our Father slowly.







1 Become still and settled. Let go of all that is drawing your attention

  away from this moment.


Give thanks to God for all the people’s faces that come into your life.

Whether they test you or bring out the best in you, they have Christ

dwelling in them – even if in heavy disguise.


2 Ask God for the grace to see Christ in all the faces you have

  encountered this day.


3 Review the day so far (or the time since your last Examen). Recall some

  of the significant people you met or with whom you conversed or



Which were the good experiences? The faces you always welcome?

The ones that brighten up your face and your day. Why do they affect

you this way?


On the contrary, which are the faces that annoy you? Or intimidate

you? Which are the hostile faces? Why is that? Could you change that

reaction or that outcome in any way?


Where are the faces you chose to ignore? The ones from whom you

look away? Where you did not want to become engaged? Where your

presence, your greeting, your conversation, could have made all the



4 Talk to God about those faces you looked on with life and energy;

  where you looked with fear and anxiety; and those faces from which

  you chose to look away.


5 What do you want to do tomorrow, with God’s help?


Conclude by asking Mary’s intercession with the Hail Mary.







1 No matter what I am worrying about ... Stop! God is with me - quiet

  perhaps, but always there. Everything I have is a gift from God. Is

  there something that I would especially like to give thanks for today?


2 I ask God to shine his light into my heart so that when I look back over

  the day I may be able to see God working in all things that happened.


3 Now I remember through the day starting from when I woke-up.


I remember the people that I met and the things that have happened.

On the whole, was it a “good” or “bad” day? Was it a normal day, or

unusual in some way? Whom did I meet during the day? Did I come

across something surprising? Does something special come to mind?


In all the things that have happened, how did I feel? Was I joyful or

sad, angry or frightened? Maybe I felt great and was really happy?


What caused my feelings and did they change during the day?


God guides us through our moods and feelings. Normally, the way of

God is (in a deep sense) peaceful and consoling. If your day was

disturbed or if you were uneasy, can you sense where that uneasiness

was coming from? We are affected by many different feelings. The

better we come to know these influences, the easier it will be to see

the perhaps subtle movements of God in our lives.


4 An important question to ask is: what can I be proud of today? I will

  give thanks for this.


But also, did I turn away from God during the day? Maybe I turned a

blind eye when it suited me?


I will say a prayer asking forgiveness for anything I may have done to

ignore or hinder God’s love during the day that has passed.


I will ask especially for the graces of healing and strength.


5 The final part of the prayer is to look forward to tomorrow.


We are people of hope. Let us remember that God will be with us then.


Let us bring the prayer to a close by praising God with the Glory Be.






Reviewing the Weekend Sport


1 Become still and settled. Let go of all the distractions that are

  occupying your mind at the moment.


Give thanks to God for all the opportunities that co-curricular life at

school, or in your local club or district team, is bringing you.


2 Ask God for the grace to see the movement of the true and false spirits

  moving in your heart in your weekend games.


3 In your mind’s eye, go over the weekend match, race, or competition.

  Begin with the journey to the venue. Then move to the time when you

  met up with the team. What were the conversations/anticipations

  like? Recall meeting with the coach – the encouragement and advice.


Remember the game. What were the highlights? When were the

feelings of exhilaration? When did you sense a real team spirit? On

the other hand, when were you down or dispirited? How did you deal

with that feeling? Did you turn it around? Or did it lead to negativity?


If you won, did you do so in the best way? We all know of “bad losers”,

 but were you “bad winners”? If you lost, what do you recall of the way

 the team or individuals acted? Was there any “blame game”?

 Whatever the outcome, what significant words or conversations do

 you remember? Do you admire them, or regret them?


What did you learn about yourself?



The team?


About what is


4 Is there anything you would like to share with God about the game?

  What will you say? Do you need to express sorrow or regret for



5 As you look forward to next week’s encounter, is there any grace or gift

  or help you would like to ask of God?


Conclude with the Prayer for Generosity.






(James Rodgers, adapted)


1 Relax. Feel open. Open your heart. Put things out of sight, out of

  grasp, out of thought. Let go. Recall that we are in the presence of

  God. We are always in God’s presence but here and now, we place

  ourselves in God’s presence. Give thanks for one thing, one gift I have

  been given, one trace of gold I have found.


2 Ask for help from the Holy Spirit. Ask the Spirit to come into our hearts

  and help us freely and honestly review the happenings of our last day.


3 Look back briefly and re-live our day with gratitude. Recall the events.

  What gifts have I received today? What gifts have I given? I thank God

  for all of these, their source. In the words of Peter Steele SJ, “each

  breath a gift; each glance a blessing”.


4 Search for the movements of our heart which may have been divided

  between helping and disregarding, listening and ignoring, criticising and

  forgiving, speaking and silence.


This is not a time for dwelling too long on shortcomings but a gentle

look at how we have not used or else mis-used God’s gifts. Do not let

the false spirit be undermining. With hope, ask for help or forgiveness.


5 Look ahead to tomorrow. Have a heart-to-heart with GOD. Ask for

  direction, for support.


Finish with Ignatius’ prayer:


Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my understanding

and my entire will.

Take, all I have and call my own.

Because, whatever I have or hold, you have given.

So, I return it all to you and surrender it.

Give me only your love and your grace.

Because I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.