As we enter the Easter Season, we also begin our next series, “Growth in the Spirit”. This series will explore the various ways Ignatian spirituality guides us in being able to notice that the Risen Christ is right in front of us.
I see myself in the disciples as they experience the Resurrection. Like them, the Risen Christ is right in front of me, and I simply cannot see him or understand it is him at first. It is only later that I am able to see. I am like Peter in John’s Gospel, when Peter suddenly understood and exclaimed… “It is the Lord!” (Jn 21: 7).
Sometimes I wonder what my life would look like without having the wisdom and practices of Ignatian spirituality. To be honest, I am not sure I really want to know. The wisdom and tools that St. Ignatius gave us continues to help me see what Peter saw — – It is the Lord!
One of Jesus’ promises to his disciples was that he would send the Holy Spirit to be with us always. That promise was fulfilled at Pentecost and we continue to receive the fulfilment of his promise today. And as St. Paul reminds us in the letter to the Galatians, we can come to know the presence of the Risen Christ in our lives through the fruits of the Holy Spirit:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Gal 5: 22-23)
St. Ignatius offers us the prayer tool of the Examen that we can lean on in our daily prayer. The Examen can help us to grow in awareness of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As we review our day with the Risen Christ’s help, we are invited to name moments where we experienced consolation or a moment where we encountered a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
When I am simply living my life, how often do I miss the “It is the Lord!” moment in an experience of kindness or gentleness from someone? How often do I miss the Risen Christ right in front of me when I have a moment of interior peace or when joy or love rise within me?
Ignatius invites us to slow down, to pause, and to review our day so we can savor the abundant “It is the Lord!” moments in our day. As we grow in our awareness of the presence of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, we also begin to name the presence of the Risen Christ in our lives in good times and in hard times.
The Holy Spirit brought the Examen into my life over fifteen years ago just months after Hurricane Katrina. Because so many were suffering, it was really hard for me to see Christ’s presence. Matt Linn, SJ taught me the Examen during a silent retreat at a retreat house in New Orleans. The retreat house was next to the very shores that did so much damage during the storm. As Fr. Linn guided me through the Examen, I was able to see in ways that I had never experienced before. Like Peter, I was finally able to see, “It is the Lord!”
Not only does Ignatius invite us to notice the fruits of the Spirit showing up in our lives during the Examen, but also to recognize whether or not the fruit of the Holy Spirit is being born through our actions into others’ lives. Our relationship with God calls us outward to share what we receive with others just as Jesus sent the disciples out to share what they had experienced with others.
A sure sign that we are growing in the Spirit is when others experience an “It is the Lord!” moment from our actions. The Examen invites us to ask ourselves: Do our encounters with others bring forth a fruit of the Holy Spirit into their lives?
As we lean into this Easter season, I invite us to lean on this Ignatian prayer tool of the Examen, so that we can grow in our awareness of the Risen Christ’s Presence in our lives and the ways we are invited to bring the Risen Christ into the lives of others.
- Download a prayer card with the steps of the Examen here.
- Pray with a guided audio Examen here.
- Read more on praying the Examen as a family and with teens.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.com