Discernment and Consciousness Examen

Discernment and the Consciousness Examen

Our lives as Loreto Sisters are influenced by the spirituality of St Ignatius of Loyola and Mary Ward.   The essence of this is finding God in all things.  It is easy to find God in life when everything is going great and all is wonderful.  It’s another story to find God in the messiness of life.  It is where we believe the face of God is evident because we believe in a God who became flesh and who is now present and active in the world and in the lives of people in all of their human reality – the shadow and the light.  Socrates said that an unreflected life is not worth living.   Reflection on life, our actions, choices, in the ordinary everyday events of life and finding the face of God evident in that reality is central to our tradition.  Our helpful structure for his reflection is the following.  We call it the Consciousness Examen; it is the practice of discernment in the little things of life so that when it comes to bigger things which have to be discerned our awareness is more heightened in order to be able to make a Spirit-filled decision.  

Discernment is rooted in the understanding that God is ever at work in our lives – inviting, directing, guiding, drawing us into the fullness of life.  Discernment’s central action is reflection on the ordinary events of our lives.  It seeks to discover God’s presence in these moments and to follow the direction and guidance God gives us through grace.  It is not the events themselves that are of interest, but rather the affective responses they evoke in us – feelings of joy, sorrow, peace, anxiety and all the indefinable ‘somethings’ that arise and stir within us.  It is precisely here that through faith we can discover God’s direction and guidance in our lives. 

Discernment presupposes several things: that you can reflect on the ordinary events of your life; that you can describe what you experience; that you have a habit of personal prayer; that you know yourself; that you know your deepest desires; that you are open to God and to God’s direction.

We could call the Consciousness Examen a type of mindfulness – being mindful of what is happening, reflecting on our daily lives.  The daily Examen takes about 15 minutes.  The following points will help you:

  • Start by asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to reflect honestly on your day.
  • Recall the gifts and blessings of your day, what you are grateful for, and give God thanks. 
  • Reflect on how God has been present in the events, experiences, encounters, and emotions of  your day.
  • How did you meet Jesus in the people and events of your day?
  • How did God call you to respond in these encounters?
  • How did you respond to these opportunities and calls that God gave you?
  • How did you respond to Jesus in the people God put in your path today?
  • Let God know that you are sorry for the times that you did not respond well to these calls and opportunities.
  • Reflect on what particular way God is calling you to grow at this time.
  • Ask for the grace to find Jesus in your experiences and encounters, to hear God’s calls to you tomorrow, and to respond to them. 

Pope Francis's Encyclical Lumen Fidei

On the following link is the full text of Lumen Fidei, The Light of Faith, the encycial of Pope Francis, published on 29 June 2013:

Lumen Fidei

Praying Hands 2

Misean Cara Conference Papers

The Conference papers for the Mission Today and Tomorrow Conference which took place in All Hallows in June 2013 are now available through the Misean Cara website.  For further information, see the details by clicking on the following link:

Mission Today and Tomorrow Conference Papers

Pope's Homily for Pentecost 20 May 2013

Read the full text of the Pope's Homily for the feast of Pentecost on 20 May 2013 here in this section.  There are three core points about the working of the Holy Spirit to which he refers in his homily: newness, harmony and mission.  It is inspiring, thought-provoking and challenging.  

Read the full text by clicking on the following link:

Pope Francis's Homily for Pentecost

Pope Francis

Maybe we could take some time to reflect on the questions he poses in his homily:  Are we open to God's surprises? Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which Gods newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?  Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the Church and with the Church?  Do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?  Let us listen to the Spirit speak to our hearts.  


The following article published in The Furrow, April 2013, was based on a talk given by Cathy Molloy at the Pobal Dé Conference , 2 March 2013, at the Jesuit Conference Centre, Milltown Park, Dublin 6.  Cathy is a member of the Steering Committee of the newly-established Association of Catholics in Ireland.  Click on the following link to read the text:

A Future for Faith?

Cross at Laytown 1

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