Thursday, March 24, 2016

EXAMINING THE EXAMEN

Back to class today--I am warming to the former nun turned "Interfaith Pastor".  I do not think we are on the same page entirely--but much of what she talked about today aroused my sense of examining my faith practices.  The goal---is to draw nearer to God--to deepen my relationship with Him, and some of her teaching today made a great deal of sense.



Lectio Divina---"Sacred Reading".  This is a way of reading scripture, searching for its meaning, and applying it to your life.  She uses this same method when reading poetry or other literature---her more liberal interpretation was peeking around the corner when she spoke of this.  I have encountered a form of this method when using the BSF method of studying scripture.  The one weakness I see in this practice of Lectio Divina according to her instructions is placing too much emphasis on what you are feeling is being said---and not enough on what God is actually saying to you.



THE EXAMEN-is exactly what it sounds like--examining.  Two periods of practicing this were discussed.

Morning-When you set your intentions for the day.  The 6 "suggestions" for this morning practice of setting your intentions for the day-

1.  Be present and enjoy each moment
2.  Withhold from judging myself and others
3.  Be kind and compassionate to everyone I meet
4.  Consciously listen to what others are saying
5.  Find the good in any unexpected setback
6.  Listen more than I speak

Again, I found this a little strong on the "me" side.  My personal morning Examen involves a prayer for God to show me what HE intends for my day.  This seems to leave one open to being far more in control than I feel most days, and might lead to a sense of having failed when the day does not work out as you intended.

Evening--When you reflect and review upon the just completed day, remembering the high moments and low points.  She informed us the positive psychology research has demonstrated the optimal ratio of positive to negative is 5:1.  There you have it friends---your goal to shoot for.

Now in fairness, I think this is an excellent habit to form---when also giving thanks for all God has placed before you in the day.  There is not much mention in the class as to how God uses ALL---good and bad for our own good.  And to learn to thank Him for the REALLY BAD--because we KNOW He has a perfect plan---can be as difficult as me swallowing a big bite of liver---GAG ME!  That's where faith and submission comes to play---swallowing that big bite with thanksgiving and a big gulp.



So I am learning---I am thinking---and will settle on what God directs me toward.  The candle and prayer beads she suggested while meditating are not my cup of tea--or better said--not in my spiritual heritage.  The thinking--the conscious seeking of God and the meeting the day with the purpose of serving Him---I am on board.  Stretching and growing --hearing how others seek God---all part of my own quest for a deeper relationship with Him.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. 
James 4:8




8 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Ah, My Friend-smiling right back at you.
      Blessings!

      Delete
  2. There's a lot of good sense in what you say here, Lulu.

    Sacred Reading: I agree with you. We should concentrate on what God is saying to us, rather than what we fell. Such reading is best done as a group so that we learn from each other. Or by discussing readings with someone else. For example, writing to/or phoning someone and asking what they make of scripture you have read. Or even using your blog by seeking an explanation of something you have read in scripture.

    The Examen: Again, I agree with you here. Rather than focussing on self; we should be asking what has God done for me today, and what does He want me to do. We start each day (or end each day) by analysing how we have used our time in glorifying Him. Have we done enough good onto others, have we been a good example for others to emulate, are we paying more than lip service to our Christianity, is there enough evidence in our lives that we are Christian>

    "There is not much mention in the class as to how God uses ALL---good and bad for our own good. And to learn to thank Him for the REALLY BAD--because we KNOW He has a perfect plan." I could not agree with you more on this. We should thank God for all that happens to us; good and bad. Especially bad. Especially when things go wrong, really wrong, in our lives. We are not thanking and praising Him BECAUSE things have gone wrong, but because He is still in control of events. He has allowed them to happen for a purpose known only to Him. By praising Him we somehow open a channel which allows Him to turn a bad situation into good, for ourselves, or perhaps for others. I have seen this happen many times, Lulu.

    This is an interesting post. Thank you for taking the time to share your views with us.

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your insightful comment, Victor.
      Blessings, Friend!

      Delete
  3. Sorry about the bad typo: I meant to say in the third line "... what we feel".

    In your last para you mention prayer beads. Seeing this nun is ex-Catholic I take it she means the Rosary. As you know, Rosaries are used often by Catholics to repeat/pray over and again the same prayers. You start with the Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary and Glory be, then you say One Lord's Prayer, ten Hail Mary's and then repeat The Lord's Prayer and Hail Mary's in total five times. - i.e. 5 Lord's Prayers and 50 Hail Mary's. In between there are readings which you meditate on.

    I have mixed views on this. I can understand the need for such prayers in some people, and have indeed recited the Rosary many times. But then I wonder ... as I am want to do ... and think ... (perhaps I shouldn't). Does God really want repetitive prayers over and over again? Do they serve Him any good. Is it not like you and me watching the same TV program over and over again? Would God not rather have us get off our knees and repetitive prayers and go out and do some good for someone else? If we meet a poor person in the street; or an elderly person needing help, oe someone who is house-bound because of sickness. What is better? To do something to help them; or to say I'll pray a Rosary for you?

    Perhaps I should stop here. Please do not share what I have said with the Pope in case he excommunicates me.

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had this very discussion today here, Victor. I think it is not unlike reading scripture- when we are performing the act for the sake of checking it off our list- our intention is not to hear God. When instead we earnestly seek to hear God whether through prayer or His Word- We are much more likely to communicate with Him. An exercise done devoid of intent and only for the sake of the exercise will return empty results.

      As for The Pope- for some mysterious reason he does not read my blog-he doesn't know what he's missing!

      Delete
  4. The best way to understand the Scripture is to read it while understanding "the word rightly divided" [II Timothy]. Once one understand that not all Scripture is our "mail", or for this dispensation (but all is for instruction), God's Word makes sense. I suggest the book "Dispensational Truth" by Charles Larkin and there's several others that will lift the veil of uncertainty. It's wonderful to stop floundering around looking for answers when everything is right in front of us.
    Prayer beads are for the heathen. Chanting does NOT please God.
    Have a blessed day. ~:)
    Another excellent source: www.bereanbiblesociety.org

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sparky, for your insight and information.
      Blessings!

      Delete

Your comments keep my writing and often cause me to think. A written form of a hug or a pat on the back and an occasional slap into reality---I treasure them all!