|Posted on July 29, 2019 at 7:20 AM|
Do you need to examine your life?
I mentioned last week that I am working through a book called “The Ignatian Adventure,” written by Kevin O’Brien, SJ. The “week” I just finished covered looking at my past sins. Wow – that took a bit of courage on my part. There is no way I could remember every sin I ever did…but I did recall several. These were the sins that affected my life the most – the ones that really hurt me or hurt others.
This review was not an easy exercise to do. It required a serious amount of time in a place where I could be alone with my thoughts. I jotted down notes as I traversed my past, dredging up a few things I really did not want to remember. And when I pondered them, I learned some things. I realized that those sins for which I have already confessed and received forgiveness have pretty much released their hold over me. I still struggle in those areas at times, but they are easier to identify and block.
But I also realized I have a few sins that I have not fully addressed. I decided I need to make another confession, ask for some forgiveness, and make some restitution and changes in my life. I am working on those right now.
Next I looked at all my sins more deeply, to try to determine WHY I erred. In examining my motivations and the feelings I had at the time, I discovered I had certain wants and desires that led me to the sin, allowing the sinful action to either give me comfort and pleasure or give me some temporary feeling of power and autonomy. I also realized that sometimes I continued certain poor behaviors even though I knew they were wrong because somehow those good feelings seemed to overshadow the gravity of the sin.
In addition, I now more clearly understood that when I acknowledge my sins and sinful tendencies and become conscious of my motives for these behaviors, and then ask for and receive forgiveness from others and from myself for these things, I can begin to change my ways and become a less sinful person. This is a key point for me to remember – it is a continual process, not a one-time event.
There are still many areas I need to work on. Every day I still fall in some way. That’s why it is important for me to make this review regularly. A good tool to use is called the Examen, which consists of five steps that St. Ignatius practiced. One version of these steps is listed here:
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
I’ve found a daily Examen which uses a series of questions to guide me through a review of my day, allowing me to identify anything which is faulty and helping me to address it immediately. And yes, it’s in an app! The app is called “Examen: Reimagining the Examen.” This app gives me a rotating list of questions to use each day. It even lets me choose a special focus area for the day if I wish. I have begun to use it just each night before bedtime, and I have been blessed by the results!
As humans, we will always fall into sins, but as long as we address them right away, confess our failures, ask for forgiveness and work to change our lives, we will continually become better human beings. A regular examination of our lives can help! Perhaps you could benefit from such a regular review of your life. I encourage you to do some sort of examination this week and see what areas in your life you may need to improve. Perhaps you could try using an app to help you through the process. It could be a lovely blessing for you, just as it is for me!
Have a blessed Monday!
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