The voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
”Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight a path for the Holy One:”
… Bear fruit worthy of repentance.
—Matthew 3:3, 8
The ancient examen, or examination of consciousness, is a simple, two-part prayer of discernment, reviewing a recent time period (a day, an hour, week, whatever).
• When did I feel closest to God or most in harmony with life?
Give thanks for the “consolations:” those moments when you felt the gift of life, and the presence or grace of God. Be mindful that the grace in those moments, and the God who granted it, are still with you.
• When did I feel most out of touch or out of harmony with God or life?
Embrace also the “desolations:” the sorrow, warning, loss or other response arising from those moments when you felt out of harmony, when you felt life drain from you. Be mindful that God was with you then and is now. The inner discord you feel is the Spirit nudging you back toward the path of Life. Within you is an innate desire to be in harmony with God. Dwell with that longing; it is your repentance. Follow it: it is the path of the Holy One. Let it guide you. It is the light that will lead you through the darkness to God.