Discerning God’s Love
Elizabeth Yank recommends The Examen Prayer, by Oblate of the Virgin Mary Father Timothy Gallagher.
Ignatian Wisdom for Our Lives Today
by Timothy M. Gallagher, OMV
Crossroads Publishing, 2006
192 pages, $16.95
To order: cpcbooks.com
BY ELIZABETH YANK
Prayer life dull? Lacking in something? Can’t seem to articulate what?
Maybe what you need is The Examen Prayer: Ignatian Wisdom for Our Lives Today.
Often associated with St. Ignatius of Loyola, the examen is a form of meditation, a way of discerning God’s active, loving presence in our lives. As Father Timothy Gallagher of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary says, it is a “way to live Ignatian discernment beyond the retreats, in daily life.”
Jesuit Father George Aschenbrenner says in the forward, “The examen is about love, a love that all our hearts yearn for, a love beautifully manifested in many human examples but, finally, a love beyond anything we can fully experience before death.”
With fresh insights and concrete guidance, The Examen Prayer provides plenty of answers to questions such as how to pray the examen, how it will help you and how to fit it into your busy schedule.
You don’t need to have done the examen before or even be familiar with the spirituality of St. Ignatius to find this book useful.
Father Gallagher opens the book by relating his personal journey with praying the examen.
“I first learned of the examen 30 years ago, early in my seminary training.” With refreshing honesty, he shares his ups and downs. Throughout the text, he includes comments on how others have used the examen in their lives, including St. Ignatius himself.
After outlining the five basic steps of the examen, Father Gallagher shares testimonies by those who have used the prayer, allowing us to see how others conquered their difficulties and experienced the fruits of their prayer.
Father Gallagher gives a background sketch on each person who presents a testimony.
“Kevin is a deacon in his final year of seminary studies,” he writes. “He loves the Lord and sincerely seeks spiritual growth.”
Father Gallagher then explains the particular difficulty.
“As he prays the examen today, Kevin notes that recently his studies and his relationships with his fellow seminarians have been more difficult than usual.”
Father Gallagher then goes on to relate how the person applied the examen to the problem.
“Kevin, too, has practiced step five of the examen with spiritual profit. He has looked back over his recent experience and understood that with good intentions he has overextended his physical and emotional energies.”
Even though some of the personal anecdotes are rather intense, such as dealing with cancer, they do not dwell on the human drama involved.
In our hectic lives, we may feel like we don’t need another thing to do. The answer comes down to spending time with “the God ‘who loves me more than I love myself.’”
Our hearts yearn to grow in our relationship with the God who loves us. If you are looking for a deeper, more profound relationship, The Examen Prayer will give you the tools to deepen and enrich your prayer life, discerning his many acts of love throughout the day.
Elizabeth Yank writes from
South Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
- November 25 - December 1, 2007