Categories
Amy M. Ink Slingers Marriage Parenting Prayer Vocations

Examining the Examen

family prayerEach year as Advent approaches, I look for new and more ways for our family to reflect and grow closer to God. We try to add prayer times and extra novenas to our normal routine.

Last Christmas, my husband gave me a book called, Six Sacred Rules for Families. Before beginning to discuss the “rules,” the book begins by discussing a method of reflective or contemplative prayer called the Examen. As a cradle Catholic, I am ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of this specific prayer prior to reading this book. I was intrigued by the simplicity of it and wanted to learn more about its history.

For many years, we have tried to focus at some point every day on asking each child what they liked about their day, what they thought could have gone better, how they worked to make themselves the best person they can be that day. We pray each morning that God will show each of us how to be the best “me” that we can be that day – how or what He wants us to do that day. In the evening we refocus and try to reflect on how God worked in our lives that day. At least, that is our goal. I wasn’t sure if the prayer in the morning and the questions in the evening were connecting with the children.

As I was planning what I was writing for this post, a friend posted about reading three questions to ask your child each night. The three questions very closely resembled the steps of the Examen.

  1. What is something that made you smile today?
  2. What is something that made you cry today?
  3. What is something you learned today?

Again, my mind went to the Examen and how to incorporate it into our family prayers.

I began to read more about the origins of the Examen and prayed about how to make it part of our routine, believing it to be the key to linking our morning prayers and dinner/bedtime routine together.

st. ignatiusThe Daily Examen is an Ignatian prayer developed by St. Ignatius. St. Ignatius thought the the prayer and spiritual exercises were a gift directly from God. The Examen helps us to see God’s hand in our daily lives. In researching the Examen, I found a few different methods of this prayer.

From Ignatian Spirituality, the basic approach to the Examen is in five steps:

  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.

– There are a lot of free PDFs and other materials available  – Examen Resources

 

The Laudate app for Android discusses two approaches to the Examen. The first it calls, “CPR”:

C= Claim your blessings

P= Pinpoint victories and losses

R= Renew your loving commitment to Christ

The other method is called the Analytical Method.

  1. Quiet your soul and enter in God’s Presence, asking Him for light to know yourself and to know Him.
  2. Review the major areas of God’s will in your life, examining the level of your faithfulness to what God was asking of you. Trust that the Holy Spirit will draw your attention to what He wants you to reflect on.
  3. Thank God for the good that, with His grace, you were able to accomplish, ask for His forgiveness for your shortcomings and sins.
  4. Renew your commitment to follow Him even more closely tomorrow.

 

Six Sacred Rules for Families also contains an approach to the Examen. It takes the reader more thoroughly through the reflective prayer time.

  1. Find a comfortable place where you can secure ten or fifteen quiet minutes. Have a journal handy.
  2. Close your eyes and relax your body.
  3. Invite the Holy Spirit to be with you in prayer.
  4. Offer God thanks for the day and anything else that immediately comes to mind.
  5. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you light to see how you’ve experienced God’s grace over the past day.
  6. Move through the day as if you were watching it on a video.
  7. Ask God for forgiveness for any sins and ask for grace to grow in love in the coming day.
  8. Close with an Our Father.
  9. Write about your experience of prayer.

 

This book also adapts the prayer for families to pray with children.

  1. Quiet your children before bedtime (we find it easier to have them focus when we are eating dinner).
  2. Ask them what made them happy over the past day.
  3. Ask them what made them sad over the past day.
  4. Ask them what they look forward to tomorrow.
  5. Remind them to thank God for what made them happy, ask for God’s help when they are sad, and pray for God’s presence in the coming day.

 

Knowing that God is always near us and that when we don’t feel Him close it is because WE have moved away, I have begun praying not for God’s presence in the coming day but for us to be more aware of God’s presence in the coming day. The Examen is one way that our family is trying to become more aware of His presence in each moment of our lives. Especially during this time of Advent when we are called to wait and prepare not only for the birth of our Savior but for His second coming, we need to take the time to reflect and become more aware of God in order to grow closer to Him.

I hope that this brief explanation helps you to find another way to pray and grow closer to God. What new traditions is your family starting this Advent season? What is your favorite family tradition?

 

These examples of the Examen are excerpts from:

Six Sacred Rules of Families by Tim and Sue Muldoon

IgnatianSpirituality.com

toolbox-laudate-2

 

Laudate app for Android and iOS

 

 

Each of these references has more detail about this beautifully simple prayer.

 

My prayer for each of us this Advent season is that we will indeed find God as we seek Him with all our hearts and souls as the author of Deuteronomy 4:29 writes: “Yet when you seek the LORD, your God, from there, you shall indeed find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul.”

cropped for cs

 

Categories
Colleen Crafts Domestic Church Feast Days Liturgical Year Saints Uncategorized

No-Sew All Saints’ Day Costume {for the procrastinators!}

If you are spending today putting the finishing touches on your children’s All Saints’ Day costumes, or the completed costumes are already hanging by the front door ready for the party, I salute you! If you saw the announcement about your parish All Saints’ Day party in this week’s bulletin and your eyes widened as you started wondering if your kid can go as himself, a modern-day “St. Jack” who wears a Thomas the Tank Engine shirt, or maybe as pirate saint – this post is for you. I usually find myself in the latter group.  But it really is possible to pull off an epic All Saints’ Day costume in a short amount of time – even WITHOUT your sewing machine.

A favorite movie in our house right now is St. Francis Xavier and the Samurai’s Lost Treasure. I suggested to my two older boys (ages 4 and 3) that one of them should go as St. Francis and the other should be St. Ignatius, who makes a short appearance in the movie as Francis’s friend and the one who inspires him to give up his life in the service of God. My 3-year-old was up to the task.

ignatius

So I set about making a costume that resembled the above picture, on two conditions:
1) It didn’t take very long to make
2) My blood pressure didn’t spike while working on it.

I know how to sew – that is, I know how to operate the sewing machine and produce something mostly wearable. But between stitches skipping, needles breaking, puckering (oh, puckering!!!), and just the general frustrations that come along with sewing when you are a relatively impatient person who is also kind of a perfectionist, I usually end up with a beautiful finished project and a bloodstream full of cortisol. A “20 minute skirt” once took me 4 hours.

heygirl(I’m not really a fan of the Hey Girl memes, but this speaks to me.)

Therefore, I present to you: The Incredibly Easy No-Sew All Saints’ Day Priest Costume.

allsaintspicmonkey

{I am making it for St. Ignatius, but there are several famous priests who are usually portrayed with Roman or fiddleback chasubles: St. Philip Neri, St. Padre Pio, Servant of God Emil Kapaun, and Pope Benedict XVI. If your saint is a priest who lived between the 17th century and the mid-1900s, his vestments probably looked like this. Gothic vestments, which are the flowy chasubles that are worn by most priests today, can be made using this tutorial as well – “poncho-style.” Saints that are portrayed in this style include St. Thomas Becket, St. Nicholas, and St. Patrick.}

You will need a glue gun. Fabric glue will work, but it takes a lot longer to dry; glue guns dry almost instantly. I use a lo-temp mini one I snagged from Hobby Lobby for $2.99. My whole project used about 5 glue sticks.

I was looking for brocade fabric, and planning to make the drive to Joann Fabric to pick out some fancy red and gold. However, I discovered that the Walmart near me still carries fabric. The thought of going to Joann’s the Saturday morning before Halloween (aka 40 people in line at the cutting counter) made me determined to find something at Walmart that would work. The red fabric is cotton, the green is a thick tapestry fabric found in the clearance section. 1 yard of each. $6.44 for both. (You can also use felt.)

allst2(I hope St. Ignatius forgives me for using fabric with gold swirls.)

Cut out two matching pieces in a bowling pin shape. (For Gothic-style, keep the length at 40 inches, cut each end 16 inches wide and the center 20 inches wide – more of a hexagonal shape than a bowling pin. Keep neck hole 6″ diameter.) This is a one-size-fits-many pattern – my boys wear 4T and 5T and it fits both of them well. If you have an older child, you may have to add an inch or two to the width and a couple inches to the length.

picallst4(The “15 inches wide” bottom does not look straight – but it should be.)

Whip out yer ol’ glue gun and glue the two pieces together around the border and the neck hole. MAKE SURE you have the fabric lined up with the pretty sides out and the ugly sides in – you want to glue the ugly/backs of the fabric together, so that both sides of the chasuble look nice and it is reversible. Double-check before you start gluing or you might end up with the front on the inside accidentally. (Don’t ask me how I know.)

allst6

OPTIONAL: Add decoration. Leaving it plain is perfectly acceptable (after all, the only reason you are gluing your child’s costume together is because you are short on time), but if you add a little gold ribbon it will look more finished and legit and the other moms will be amazed at your mad crafting skills. I used one entire spool of 97 cent gold Walmart ribbon for mine, and since my little guy is a Jesuit, I added an IHS – the symbol for the Holy Name of Jesus and the monogram of the Jesuit order.

Grab a $3.97 men’s Large white t-shirt for your surplice, slip the chasuble over your child’s head, scribble on a beard with eyeliner if necessary, and you. are. done.

IMG_2903

Time to completion during naptime: 20 minutes without gold decoration, 30 minutes with decoration.
(Time to completion not during naptime: 87 minutes – includes 2 baby feedings, lunch for the kiddos, and eating Butterfingers throughout.)

You CAN sew this project if you really don’t want to use glue, and if you have an embroidery machine you could embroider a beautiful Sacred Heart or cross on the front or back. You could also make a stole instead of a chasuble and wear it with the white t-shirt surplice to portray St. John Vianney. Even if you don’t need an All Saints’ Day costume, this is perfect for the kids who like to “play Mass.”

For more All Saints’ Day ideas, including other costumes, crafts, games, and educational materials, check out this post. And if you need a quick and easy no-sew costume for a little girl, check out Catholic Icing’s Blessed Teresa of Calcutta costume!