"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8
The Grace of Gratitude
In the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, he reminds us that the first sin Pride comes from not being grateful. All things we have are gifts from God who is our Creator. Pride comes from not living in the reality that we were created.
We are created to love and serve God in this world with our whole mind, soul and strength. The Christian pilgrim strives for perfection, to be like God, and focuses on growing in virtue and holiness. In the First Principle and Foundation St. Ignatius presents us with a road map for life, who we are, our purpose, our destiny, and how best to live our lives to achieve that end.
Furthermore, discernment of the "good spirits" helps us to see that the God is calling us to Him all the time, to live the virtues that can only be perfected through the gifts of grace by the Holy Spirit.
A Particular Examination of Conscience
You may be called to consider which Gifts of the Spirit, Fruits of the Spirit or Virtues you wish to increase in your life. This Particular Examination of Conscience helps us to become more aware of our disordered attachments, our faults, and vices that lead us to sin. This review helps us also to reflect upon our growth in the Virtues in our daily life.
The Particular Examine is different than the Awareness Examen in that the Particular focuses on overcoming the defects, attachments and sins that we habitually fall into and helps us to become more aware of how and why we fall into that particular area of lacking grace. The Particular Examine is meant to be followed by an Awareness Examen, which grounds us in gratitude, helps us to notice God's activity in our daily life, and moves us towards hope for the day ahead.
Virtues, Gifts of the Spirt, and Fruits of the Spirit
How To Make The Particular Examination of Conscience
"First, in the morning, immediately on rising, one should resolve to guard carefully against the particular sin or defect with regard to which he seeks to correct or improve himself." (SE 24)
After lunch, St. Ignatius invites us to ask God for the grace we desire, which is to recall how often we have fallen into a particular sin and to be given the grace to avoid it in the future. Here we reflect on each hour of the day up to that point, and make a tally for each time that we have fallen into the particular vice or defect. Then we "renew (one's) resolution, and strive to amend during the time till the second examination is to be made." (SE 25)
Ask God to help you in your pursuit of spiritual excellence by increasing the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit that will strengthen you in overcoming the particular vice or defect you set out to correct.
After dinner, make a second examination of your day since the one you made at lunchtime. Go over each hour as before and "make a mark for each time he has fallen into the particular fault or sin." (SE 26)
Additional Directions from Spiritual Exercise 27-30
Every time you fall into the particular sin or fault, you are working on, place your hand over your heart and express sorrow to Jesus.
Pay attention to the tallies for each examination and notice whether there is an improvement from the previous examination.
How have you amended it and by which virtue? Example - pride> gratitude or humility (piety) or patience ( fortitude)?
Observe the tallies from the day and notice if there is an improvement from the previous day(s).
Compare one week with another week and observe whether you have improved since the previous week.
Continue for 4 weeks to review with your spiritual director or confessor.
Mid Day Examine
Notes for the Evening Reflection
(SE) All quotes are taken from The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: Based on Studies in the Language of the Autograph by Louis J. Puhl, SJ
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