The first weekend of Lent we were expecting another epic snowstorm. Minnesota has seen record snowfall and low temps this season, which is saying something for our tundra state. With the necessity of hunkering down upon me, I decided to tackle a project begging to be completed for too long to estimate.
The majority of the walls in our modern farmhouse are white.
With eight kids, that makes sixteen sticky, muddy, chubby little hands to leave their imprint and their artwork. Our walls were beyond being scrubbed clean, I needed to start again.
I began my mission to freshen up with a bucket of white paint and a critical eye. As I examined more carefully, I realized the dirt and grime was even worse than I thought. The sight of the roller erasing the muck and crayon was therapeutic, I was determined to end the weekend with a clean slate.
As I quietly worked, I was reminded of the practice of a daily Examen, made popular by a favorite family saint, Ignatius of Loyola. In a daily Examen, we reflect on the blessings of each day, we seek forgiveness for our sins, and make a resolution for going forward.
When we review regularly, we become increasingly aware of the scuff marks and stains on our souls.
Closer reflection reveals habitual offenses and eventually a more intimate view of the root of our sin. Daily inventory of our shortcomings prepares us to regularly make a truly contrite Sacramental Confession where we receive the graces necessary start anew. It’s like taking a fresh coat of paint and covering our guilt and shame with Jesus’ love and mercy.
If you’re interested in praying a daily Examen, there are many resources available. Recently, I discovered the app “Examen Prayer” which guides you through the steps of daily Examination of Conscience along with video presentations from Father Michael Denk and a helpful journaling tool.
The season of Lent is a great time to begin a daily Examen in preparation to welcome our Risen Lord.
I was compelled after a few hours of freshening the interior of my home to bundle up, brave the looming storm, and receive the graces available in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, followed by Anticipatory Mass with my family. I ended the weekend with brightened walls and a refreshening of my soul, made white as snow by a merciful and loving Savior.