Jesuit Father Rick Malloy doesn’t have to go far to get to his “mission territory:” he simply walks down the hall from where he lives in a college dorm at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. While the journey isn’t far, Fr. Malloy says it can be difficult to be noticed in the territory where he’s sent: the minds, hearts and imaginations of young adults.
As vice president for university ministries, Fr. Malloy searches for ways to get today’s young adults to be open to God’s action in their lives. He’s found that one way to get there is the short spiritual exercise made famous by St. Ignatius of Loyola: the Examen.
The Examen involves a review of one’s day, listening for where God was present and active. According to Fr. Malloy, University of Scranton students are finding the finding the 10- to 15-minute Examen doable, transformative and comprehensible.
“St. Ignatius championed this form of prayer and counseled this was the one spiritual exercise that should never be left aside,” says Fr. Malloy. “In order to make this prayer even more accessible, I offer this description of the traditional five steps of the Examen: 1) the prayer to the Spirit for inspiration; 2) thanksgiving; 3) examination of consciousness; 4) firm resolve to improve; and 5) trust and hope for the future.”
Fr. Malloy says he is very aware that what he’s asking students to do—slow down, be attentive, be reflective—is alien to the culture in which they are immersed, with constant texting and tweeting, flashing images and video games. “The Examen can serve as an antidote to the spiritual maladies of our age,” he says.
Paralleling St. Ignatius’ five steps, Fr. Malloy has developed the five “P's” of the Examen—presence, praise, process, penance, promise—in order to make this prayer even more accessible to young adults.
“There is no ‘proper’ way to practice the Examen,” says Fr. Malloy. “Some people like to sit in a chapel. Some turn off the radio and pray the Examen as they drive home from work. Some people pray the Examen in the shower. … However and wherever you pray the Examen, God will find you and guide you.”
To read more about Fr. Malloy’s five “P’s” of the Examen, visit the St. Anthony Messenger website.