The examen is one of the prayer methods used by retreatants to help them be aware of sins in their daily life. It was one of the prayer methods mentioned in the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, a manual for spiritual directors guiding people through about 30 days of solitude and prayer and meditations on the life of Christ. The original method has since been modified for contemporary use in many creative ways. The contemporary ones have a greater “God consciousness” in the reflection without the heavier emphasis on “sin consciousness” of the original method.
Here is the English translation (Puhl) of note number 43 of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius (original in Spanish):
Method of Making the General Examination of Conscience notation 43 (SE)
There are five points in this method
- The first point is to give thanks to God our Lord for the favors received.
- The second point is to ask for grace to know my sins and to rid myself of them.
- The third point is to demand an account of my soul from the time of rising up to the present examination. I should go over one hour after another, one period after another. The thoughts should be examined first, then the words, and finally, the deeds in the same order as was explained under the Particular Examination of Conscience.
- The fourth point will be to ask pardon of God our Lord for my faults.
- The fifth point will be to resolve to amend with the grace of God. Close with an Our Father.