The daily examen is a spiritual practice beneficial to all people. It enables us to prayerfully reflect on the day, see God’s presence in our lives, and determine where or to what he is calling us. There are many ways to go about an examen, the most widely known method likely being St. Ignatius’ five steps. While a critical habit to a healthy spiritual life, it can be difficult to stick with a daily examen or even know how to stay centered while praying one. This checklist can be a helpful add-on or launching point to your examen, especially if you are in a state of singleness and searching for ways to deepen your relationship with the Lord and others. Prayerfully consider each question, ask the Lord to shed light on both your failures and successes, and, with hope and thanksgiving, pray for the grace to do his will more faithfully tomorrow.
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Also check out “A daily check-in for a happy marriage.”
1. Did I perform any spiritual or corporal works of mercy today?
Singleness can be a wonderful opportunity to energetically engage in performing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. (Certainly, all the faithful are called to do so; it just looks different when you have a spouse and children to attend to during a majority of your waking hours). So, embrace this time to volunteer at the soup kitchen or hospital, teach RCIA classes and go on mission trips!
2. Did I do at least one thing to better myself physically, intellectually and spiritually today?
We are called to constantly be becoming the woman he created us to be. This involves taking care of our physical beings, increasing our knowledge and understanding, strengthening our faith and deepening our love for God and others.
3. Did I take time to sit alone with the Lord?
If in the blessed time of singleness, one should still go on dates. The Lord himself is waiting to spend time with you if you but accept his invitation.
4. Did I entertain any negative self-talk?
How easy it is to forget that we are fearfully and wonderfully made! Allowing critical thoughts to take hold in our minds harms us and, therefore, our relationship with our loving Father.
5. Did I joyfully encounter strangers, allowing God’s light to shine through me?
Every path we cross is an opportunity for love. The Lord knew before time began that we would encounter this person and that person; so do not think that even the briefest or most routine contact with a stranger (yes, even the grocery store cashier) is insignificant. Plant seeds of joy and allow God’s love to take root all around.
6. Did I thank God for my present state in life?
You may be hoping and praying for what is to come in one year, two years, five years; but the Lord wants us in the present, for, as C.S. Lewis writes, “The present is the point at which time touches eternity.” So, thank God for where he has you right now. He is working wonders.
7. Did I complete my duties and obligations to the best of my ability, both challenging myself and recognizing my need for his grace?
Perhaps you’re a student or you’ve stepped into a career or you’re somewhere in between. Regardless of what your state in life is, you have commitments and responsibilities. Even if it is not exactly what you want to be doing, the Lord has given you these duties as a gift — an opportunity to love deeper, grow in holiness and lean on him.
8. Did I set aside my own preferences and desires for the good of others?
Something as little as giving up the closer parking spot for a stranger or leaving the last corner piece of brownie for your friend can be so sanctifying when it is done out of love for the other.
9. Did I pray for my future vocation today?
Even while staying rooted in the present, it is good and right to pray for your future vocation so as to stay attentive to God’s voice and his direction for your life. Do so without anxiety, placing complete trust in his plan.
10. Did I go about my day with a smile on my face?
A good tree bears good fruit, and a soul in love with the Lord bears a smile on her face.