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Exploring faith together

John didn’t expect to be downsized. Losing his job put him into a tailspin of desolation. “I didn’t know what to think about myself and my worth,” he said. Worry about his family’s security was the worst. Seven months later when he found a position in a somewhat different profession, he began to reflect on his experience. “I started to realize that losing my job was the best thing that ever happened to me. I hadn’t realized how stressed, tense and under pressure I had become and how it was affecting my whole life. My new job is creative and fun, and I love the team I work with. I never would have made this move on my own.”

A key element of Ignatian spirituality is found in the use of an “Examen of Consciousness,” or prayerful reflection on our day or weeks or months to see the movements within us of desolation and consolation. Not all desolation is found in the “big issues” like a job loss, not all consolation is found in big issues like a marriage or birth. Sometimes it is the simple, everyday stuff of life that calls forth feelings of joy or sorrow, consolation or pain.

Imagine looking out a window to a snow-covered landscape, catching a glimpse of a bird hopping around and nibbling tiny berries knocked down by the wind from the tree branch above. Smile and take delight in this. It is a consolation and a sign of the presence of God.

John discovered through his reflection that he is able to be “more like himself” in his new position. Doing the daily Examen helps each of us to become more like ourselves created and loved by God. Saying a prayer quiets our minds and readies our hearts.

You are the way, the truth, the life
Without the way there is no going
Without the truth there is no knowing
Without the life there is no growing
Show us the way, that we may go
Teach us the truth, that we may know
Grant us the life, that we may grow
Eternally.

Prayer by Rev. Theodore (Ted) J. Tracy, S.J.

Dr. Susan Mountin, Jour ’71, Grad ’94, director of Manresa for Faculty, helps us till the soil of faith in a quarterly column on Ignatian values.

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