Col 1, 1-8; Psalm 52; Luke 4, 38-44
The first reading is the introduction of the letter to the Colossians. It begins with a greeting in typical Pauline tradition (meaning, the author though unknown is said to be a disciple of Paul) to the community at Colossae. The greeting is usually used at mass: “The grace and peace of God our Father,” and the Lord Jesus Christ.... The greeting reflects the grounding of our community’s life in the saving activity of Christ. We look at everything that we do and experience in the eyes of God. It is successful if it is good and beautiful in the eyes of God. Even if, it is not in the eyes of the world. We evaluate our lives according to our purpose: that we are meant to praise, glorify and love God.
Often we lose our sensitivity to the workings of God in our lives when we are too busy. When the demands of our work claim most of our time, the first thing that goes is our prayer. It is said that ideally when we are too occupied, the more we need to pray. Jesus in the Gospel gives us the example: despite His work, He takes time to go up the mountain to pray. He talks to His Father: about the worked He had done, and where He needs to go. In order to align ourselves to God, we must be aware of His workings in our daily lives. We need the sensitivity of the author of the letter to the Colossians to see and acknowledge that the seed of the Gospel is growing in his community whom he described as “the holy ones” and “faithful ones in Christ”. To feel the presence of God and the work that He is effecting on us, we need to tune our ears to Him.
St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches us what we call the “Consciousness Examen” or the “Awareness Examen”. This is different from the Examination of Conscience. The Consciousness Examen helps us to be aware of the presence of God in the whole of our lives, while the latter focuses on our sins. To help us in our awareness of the movement of the Spirit in our daily lives, we can follow these two simplified methods. We can do it as the day ends, or at the end of the first half of the day. Ideally, each examen is 15 minutes.
A. Awareness Examen (longer version) in five steps.
1. Act of Presence and Gratitude to the Trinity: I begin by placing myself in the presence of the Trinity. I try to become aware of God beholding me as the beloved one. I thank God for creating me and for God’s presence with me.
2. I ask for what I seek and desire: With the Spirit leading me, I try to get in touch with what has been happening in and through me. I ask the Holy Spirit for an interior knowledge of God’s presence to me.
3. Examination: I go through the past half-day or day. Choose only a few questions or even just one. Ignatius said that the point is not quantity but depth.
a. What has been dominating my mind and heart?
b. When did I feel most alive?
c. When did I most feel life draining out of me?
d. Experiences of satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
e. Experiences of interpersonal relationship with others, whether of love and rejection.
f. For what am I most grateful to God about.
g. Where do I experience regret about?
h. Where have I experienced consolation and/or desolation?
i. Interior experiences of intimacy with God.
j. What were the high points?
k. What were the low points?
4. With my new awareness: I speak to the Trinity seeking understanding and meaning of these experiences as well as the ability to recognize God’s constant companionship with me. I make further responses to the Trinity of gratitude or sorrow.
5. Looking Toward the Future: “What returns can I make for all God’s goodness of me?” (Psalm 116, 12). I ask for what I need as I continue on my journey today. I close with the prayer Jesus taught us: the Our Father.
B. Awareness Examen (shorter version). Choose any set.
1. For what moment today am I most grateful? For what moment today am I least grateful?
2. When did I give and receive the most love today? When did I give and receive the least love today?
3. When did I feel most alive today? When did I most feel life draining out of me?
4. When today did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, others, God and the universe? When did I have the least sense of belonging?
5. When was I happiest today? When was I saddest?
6. When was today’s high point? When was today’s low point?
1. This is not the only method to root ourselves in the love of God everyday. There are many others. Some may be more complicated. But for now, this is a good way to start. All you need is 15 minutes of your time.
2. Awareness Examen is taken from the Center for Ignatian Spirituality Philippines (CIS Phil). If you need to go on a one-on-one retreat or Spiritual Direction or be trained to become a Spiritual Director, please contact the Center for Ignatian Spirituality Philippines (CIS Phil). Ateneo de Manila University. Loyola Heights, Quezon City. Tel.+632 42642-50 & 51. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web www.cisphil.org.