This short, thought-provoking, and spiritually beneficial book took just a short while to read. The three parts of the book are “The Examen”, The Nine Hundred Candles, and Questions and Answers.
The title suggests that sleeping with bread literally or spiritually will bring you closer to God. It will bring a comfort and a sense of security knowing God is present. God is near. In this case, The Examen is the bread.
Throughout the book, questions are posed for us to ask ourselves and each other as part of spiritual self-examination. Just some include “What are you grateful for?” What was today's highpoint? What was today's low point? When was I the happiest? When was I the saddest? When did I give and receive the most love today?
These and many similar questions are the essence of examining one's life each day. The authors gave example after example of how they used The Examen to improve their spiritual lives and those around them. These three writers have led many many workshops and retreats to explain what works for them and others.
All their sharing is related to consolation and desolation. St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) wrote The Spiritual Exercises that have guided people for centuries. This examination may change our life direction as it did for St. Ignatius. He believed and experienced God speaking through his deepest feelings and yearnings that he called consolation and desolation. Consolation is whatever helps us connect with ourselves, others, and God. Desolation is whatever disconnects us. Desolation also means feeling misery to some degree.
The suggested Examen uses this process although the authors state “there are no rules doing the examen”.
Light a candle to symbolize the light of divine revelation in our everyday experience.
Ask positive questions only or ask the positive (consolation) and the negative (desolation).
Share your thoughts with another family member or friend.
Or share the questions and answers with your family including your children. Questions with children might focus on the following questions.
“What did you feel good about today?”
“What was your biggest struggle today, or when did you feel sad, helpless,or angry?”
Or conduct your examen by yourself. Here one can use imagination and experiences that caused a feeling of God's love. Record the insights through journaling, even drawing, or movement of some type.
Daily examination is recommended. Also, this process can be followed at other intervals such as monthly or annually.
Spend about 20 minutes to complete each exercise.
Give thanks to God for whatever you experience.
Well, I cannot tell you the entire book! I urge you to read it and use the examen. I recommend this book to anyone! I recommend it to lay people and to clergy. I recommend it to families and to children. In my life, I have conducted spiritual self-examination. Now again, I am becoming more intentional with self-examination of my spiritual life.