Praying the Examen


I hope that everyone is faring well and staying healthy! Over the next coming days/weeks, we are hoping to share some inspirational resources for everyone to use and share.

Below is the first of what I hope to be a series of inspirational resources:

Over the past few years, the Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte has had the opportunity to work with Fr. Joseph Koterski to bring Days of Reflections for Seniors to numerous parishes throughout the Diocese. Although our plans to have Fr. Koterski lead several Days of Reflection in August have been put on hold at this time, he has graciously agreed to share some insights from one of the presentations that he made last year.

Praying the Examen

During these fearsome days, regular prayer is a necessity. We do well to beg the Lord to end this terrible pandemic and to spare us from the virus!

While we wait in trust and patience, this can be a good time to renew our prayer lives. It has been my privilege in recent years to visit the Diocese of Charlotte many times during the summers. One of the programs that I have most enjoyed doing is one called “Praying the Examen.”

Even though we cannot be together at this time, I wanted to send you something about this approach to prayer, in the hope that it may be of spiritual help during these fearsome times. It can be a way to address through prayer any number of things: the tensions that come if we have to be in quarantine, the loneliness and other feelings of social isolation, the tensions that can arise when we need to live or work with the same people and do not have a chance to get out much.

The Examen is a prayer technique that St Ignatius Loyola devised. It is intended as a daily prayer of five to ten minutes that gives us a way to place ourselves in the presence of God and to examine how the day has gone. It has five steps, which I describe in greater length in the attachment that comes with this email.

To make the five steps easy to remember, I like to use the acronym GRACE, like this:

G — Gratitude — begin the prayer with thinking of something for which you want to thank God, and then offer a prayer of thanks — perhaps gratitude for your life, your health, your friends.

R — Request for Light — ask God for the light by which to see the past day, the light by which to put things in perspective, the light by which to plan for tomorrow.

A — Account of Actions and Attitudes — tell the Lord what happened this past day: what you did and how you felt. What I usually do is to spend about a minute just going through the day quickly, so as to remember what I did, and then I focus on one or two episodes in more detail.

C — Chart your Course — this is a time for an act of contrition, to tell God that I am sorry for any sin that I have noticed, but it is also a time to make a resolution about what I want to do differently tomorrow. Maybe it will be about something I want to be sure to do, or be sure not to do, but it could also be about an attitude — something I want to continue, or something I want to change.

E — Entreat the Lord for Energy and Enthusiasm — here I simply ask God for the grace, the energy to carry out whatever course I charted, whatever resolution I made. Often I pray the Our Father at this point.

I wish that we were here altogether, to do this in person, but I am very glad at least to be able to offer it to you electronically. Happy to discuss this with anyone who may want to write (

God bless!

Fr Joseph Koterski SJ
Fordham University
Bronx NY

A member of the Society of Jesus, and ordained a priest in 1992, Father Joseph Koterski is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University. At Fordham, he specializes in the history of medieval philosophy and natural law ethics and also serves as the Editor-in-Chief of International Philosophical Quarterly, and as Chaplain and Faculty-in-Residence at Queens Court Residential College for Freshmen. He holds a Ph.D. from St. Louis University, and a Master of Divinity and License of Sacred Theology from the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Father Koterski is a veteran Great Courses instructor and a respected teacher and scholar receiving both the “Undergraduate Teaching Award” and “Graduate Teacher of the Year Award” of Fordham University. For The Teaching Company, he has produced lecture courses on Aristotle’s Ethics, on Natural Law and Human Nature, and Biblical Wisdom Literature. Fr. Koterski is a member of University Faculty for Life and the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.