Guest Column, Catholic Wedding Guide, Clarion Herald
One of the many gifts of St. Ignatius of Loyola to our Church was the practice of the Daily Examen.
Throughout our busy days and weeks, the Lord is always trying to break in and communicate with us that he loves us and is here with us despite our distractions and challenges.
St. Ignatius encouraged his followers to take some time at least once a day to review the day’s events and your interactions with others and in hindsight to reflect on God’s presence and 1.) give thanks to God or 2.) seek forgiveness when you didn’t respond in a loving way to others or to the promptings of God in your heart.
We can seek the grace to respond more faithfully in the future and to be more attentive to God’s presence in the moment.
The examen cultivates a sense of our awareness of God moving throughout our lives – we are never alone.
We encourage married couples to embrace the practice of the examen in their personal lives with a particular emphasis on a weekly examen exercise which we developed.
In most busy families it is very helpful for a married couple to take some time at least once a week, preferably on a Sunday, the day of Sabbath rest, to review the calendars and plans for the coming week. This can avoid a lot of misunderstandings during the week and also help establish expectations for each spouse for the coming week.
This weekly encounter can also be a wonderful time to reflect on God’s movement in your marriage and family life over the previous week by sharing on the following questions:
How did we encounter Christ in our lives this week?
What gifts from the Lord were we particularly aware of this week? How did we share those gifts with others?
Conclude this part with a prayer of gratitude and praise.
Did we serve one another unselfishly this week?
What steps did we take this week to nurture the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of our relationship?
Did anything happen this week that is still unsettled between us? Can we talk about it now and seek reconciliation?
Is there any change we would like to make in the week ahead to live out our sacrament more faithfully?
Conclude this part with a time of contrition and recommitment. Ask for the specific graces needed in prayers of petition together.
Matrimony is a lifestyle sacrament – the graces of the sacrament are as abundant in the daily living out of the sacramental call to mirror Christ’s love as they are on the wedding day.
Invite the Lord to join you once a week in this prayerful reflection whereby you check in with one another to reorient yourselves to your spouse and the health of your marriage relationship. This exercise should take less than 30 minutes most weeks but it can truly be an instrument of grace.
Jan and Lloyd Tate are the authors of Home Marriage Prep, used in different parishes of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. They can be reached at email@example.com.