Catholic blogger Philip Kosloski wrote a cool little article about making a Yearly Examen. Most people are familiar with the Daily Examen which is a part of Ignatian Spirituality. I try to make an effort to do a nightly examen but I admit, I fail a lot at this.
But a Yearly Examen – Brilliant and doable. As much as we are inclined to make New Years Resolutions, how often do we actually review the year that was in order to learn how we can improve ourselves for the coming year?
Here’s Kosloski’s adaptation for his Yearly Examen:
- First, give thanks to God for all the many blessings received over the past year. Go through each month, dwelling upon the good and thanking God for it.
- Second, ask for the grace to know your sins and failings and renounce them. Go through each month and do this.
- Third, review your year again, month-by-month, and recognize your feelings, thoughts and movements of the heart. There will be certain people and events that strike a chord (for good or for ill). Bring those people or events to God and ask Him why they stand out. Ask God for the grace to see His providence in all things. Nothing happens by chance.
- Fourth, ask pardon of God for any sins. Also, do not only ask God for forgiveness, but also ask God for the grace to forgive yourself.
- Fifth, look forward to the next year and ask God for the grace to amend your life.
While 2015 is still fresh in your mind, you should make a point to do your own yearly examen. It looks a little daunting but it shouldn’t take you too long. In the meantime, here are my own little thoughts on this exercise:
As for me, personally, Step number 1 is the easiest part. I made a point this past year to try and remain positive and always be grateful for the littlest things. Someone got me a “Grateful Journal” where you write something every day that you’re thankful for/something good that happened to you. or an answered prayer for someone else. When you read that every day, it’s hard to remain bitter and depressed.
The second step – A little difficult, I mean who wants to face their sins and failings head on like that? But, I understand why it’s a necessary step. We aren’t perfect, as much as we try to be.
The third step – By far my favorite step. Certain events that “struck a chord” for good were plentiful this year. Pretty sure TOB is at the top of the list. But there were a few that still make me feel sick to my stomach every time I think about them (friendships ending, death of loved ones, betrayal of people I trusted).
The most difficult step though, for me, has to be the 4th. The grace to forgive yourself is far more difficult, I think, than asking God for forgiveness. Pretty sure this has a lot to do with my self-deprecating humor I adopted a few years ago. It’s easier to make fun of yourself and downplay your successes than to actually believe you’re good at something or are a good person. And when that happens you tend to dwell on your faults a lot more than give yourself some credit for your improvements. Sigh…
The fifth step – Hallelujah! I AM looking forward to a new year, especially since I have thing for even numbers. 2015 always sounded strange to me. Twenty-sixeteen has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? 😉