Examen on Attentiveness to God’s Presence

Place yourself in the presence of the Lord and pray for enlightenment. Relax. Breathe deeply. Run quickly over the past few hours or days, allowing your real feelings to surface about the events that have been part of your life, the feelings you’ve buried so that you could make it through the day.

Pay attention to the way in which the Lord has been present to you. Where have you felt drawn to the Lord or moved to knowing his loving presence? Where have you met the Lord when you felt afraid … misunderstood … tempted … relieved … happy? Turn to the Lord with gratitude.

Choose one incident or reaction that stands out particularly for you at this time and which is still not settled for you. Recall to mind the details of the incident and its context, the people involved, and how you feel about it.

Read in the Bible the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42)

Allow Mary to show you how to remain in God’s presence.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’

The story of Mary and Martha is a familiar cautionary tale. Martha is running around the house, preparing food, cleaning up after her guests, and doing her best to be a courteous hostess. After all, Jesus himself has just walked through the door! She becomes frustrated when her sister Mary does not offer to help because she sees hospitality as a sign of respect for the Lord.

Read through the passage again and ask yourself how you would prepare to welcome Jesus into your home. Would preparations be different from when a family member or friend visits? Would you think about what you would want to say to him?

Martha takes care of all of the household tasks during Jesus’ visit because she loves him and wants him to feel at home. But as she does this, she realizes that things are not going as she planned. Perhaps she burned the food or spilled trash over the floor. She becomes frustrated and overwhelmed by the fact that her sister Mary does not offer help, and asks Jesus to tell her to contribute. Jesus surprises her by revealing that he did not come to their house for the food or the clean floor to sleep on; he came for Mary and Martha.

The greatest gift that you can offer God is your presence. The greatest sign of love that Mary could show to Jesus was simply to sit at his feet and listen to him. In sitting with Jesus and acknowledging his presence, she also came to know something about who she was and how she was loved by him. Take a moment now to sit in God’s presence. Do not feel the need to say anything, but simply close your eyes and come to an awareness that he is with you.

Having an awareness of God’s presence is a way to center your identity in God’s love. As you reflect upon the events of your day for your examen, think about where God was present. How does it feel to know that you do not have to earn God’s love, but that it is already with you? Allow Mary to show you how to focus on sitting in the presence of Christ.

God’s great love for you is made manifest in the experiences of your life. As you make this examen, the Lord is right now moving your heart toward knowing his presence.

Spend some time talking over with the Lord what you are learning and experiencing. With simplicity express your sorrow for any times you have not recognized God’s presence in your life and your gratitude for any movements you sense toward greater awareness of his presence through God’s grace.

Identify one step toward becoming a more aware of God’s presence that you want to take going forward, a step that is actually possible for you. This could be starting the day with lighting a candle and saying a prayer or driving to work in silence. Pray for the grace to become more aware of God’s presence.

Image by marthaartess from Cathopic

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