DPD5 – Journeying with the Examen Prayer – The Daily Prayer of Discernment: The Examen Prayer with Fr. Timothy Gallagher – Discerning Hearts Podcast

Journeying with the Examen Prayer – The Daily Prayer of Discernment: The Examen Prayer with Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Timothy Gallagher and Kris McGregor discuss the third step of the Examen prayer, which is the review of one’s day. Fr. Gallagher explains that the term “examen” comes from the Spanish word for examination, and he refers to this step as “review.” This involves looking back over the day to see where God was present and where the enemy tried to lead one astray. The goal is to develop “eyes of faith” that are vigilant and can recognize the action of God and the enemy in daily life.

Fr. Gallagher uses a reflective example of “Susan,” a composite character from his experiences. Susan has been attending daily Mass for six months and incorporates the Examen into her routine. One day, after Mass, she feels deep spiritual consolation, realizing that attending daily Mass has brought her closer to God and improved her patience and availability to others. This reinforces her commitment to the practice. On another day, Susan experiences spiritual desolation, feeling distant from God and lacking energy for spiritual activities. Despite this, she gets herself to Mass, albeit late. In her review, she identifies this as an instance of the enemy’s tactic to discourage her and recognizes the importance of being faithful to her spiritual commitments.

The Examen helps one become more aware of spiritual consolations and desolations, allowing for growth and a deeper understanding of God’s grace and the enemy’s tactics. This practice, combined with knowledge of St. Ignatius’ rules for the discernment of spirits, enriches one’s spiritual life.

Discerning Hearts Reflection Questions

  1. Understanding the Purpose of the Examen: How does the Examen prayer help us see the action of the Lord and the enemy in our daily lives?
  2. Spiritual Consolation and Desolation: Can you identify moments of spiritual consolation and desolation in your recent experiences, and how did you respond to them?
  3. Practicing Discernment: What steps can you take to incorporate the daily review of spiritual experiences into your prayer routine?
  4. The Impact of Daily Mass: How has attending daily Mass influenced your spiritual life and relationship with God?
  5. Responding to Desolation: When facing spiritual desolation, what strategies can you employ to remain faithful to your spiritual commitments?
  6. The Role of Forgiveness: How does asking for God’s forgiveness daily affect your sense of spiritual growth and personal peace?
  7. Recognizing the Enemy’s Tactics: Are there specific times or situations where you find it challenging to stick to your spiritual plans, and how can you better recognize and counteract these tactics?
  8. The Joy of Forgiveness: Reflect on a time when you felt profound joy after experiencing God’s forgiveness; how did this affect your spiritual journey?
  9. Living the Ordinary with Awareness: How can you bring greater spiritual awareness to the seemingly ordinary events of your day?
  10. Applying Ignatian Principles: How familiar are you with St. Ignatius’ rules for discernment of spirits, and how can you apply them to deepen your practice of the Examen?


As outlined from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola

(translated from the autograph by Fr. E. Mullan, S.J.  1909 in the public domain)

It contains in it five Points.

First Point. The first Point is to give thanks to God our Lord for the benefits received.
Second Point. The second, to ask grace to know our sins and cast them out.
Third Point. The third, to ask account of our soul from the hour that we rose up to the present Examen, hour by hour, or period by period: and first as to thoughts, and then as to words, and then as to acts, in the same order as was mentioned in the Particular Examen.
Fourth Point. The fourth, to ask pardon of God our Lord for the faults.
Fifth Point. The fifth, to purpose amendment with His grace.


Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V., was ordained in 1979 as a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, a religious community dedicated to retreats and spiritual formation according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Fr. Gallagher is featured on the EWTN series “Living the Discerning Life:  The Spiritual Teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola”. For more information on how to obtain copies of Fr. Gallaghers’s various books and audio which are available for purchase, please visit  his  website:   frtimothygallagher.org

For the other episodes in this series check out Fr. Timothy Gallagher’s “Discerning Hearts” page

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