St. Ignatius has a principle of the spiritual life called the ‘particular examen.’ It means that once a day, (maybe with night prayers, or lunch, or in the car ride home), we stop what we are doing and examine that very day with regards to one particular sin or fault. Do this for a year, relentlessly and honestly looking, and you can root out a lot of sin. And if you don’t know what sin to relentlessly examen, then ask your spouse or parents.
Maybe I am harsh and judgmental, and want to ask the Lord for the grace to be more merciful. What if you made this your particular examen, “Where did I miss today an opportunity for mercy?” Anyone who asks this honestly will find several ways that he or she can improve.
Mercy is the enduring constant love of God. I know I have repeated this to you before, but one of our RCIA folks defined mercy and grace thus: “Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve.” “Mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve.”
I need Mercy. You need Mercy. We all need Mercy. Let’s help to give it to one another. Forgive someone who is not asking for forgiveness. Forgive someone who refuses to repent from their error. Forgive the one who has hurt you most keenly.
Oh yeah…. and confessions: the more you do the difficult work of extending mercy to others, the more you will experience and treasure the Lord’s gift of mercy to you.
Whatever you decide needs to be the focus of your own personal particular examen, it is a great tool for making progress in the spiritual life.
A Blessed Lent to each member of our parish family.
Father John Mosimann