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Take a Closer Look

It is not happiness that brings us gratitude, but gratitude that brings us happiness. Karen May, Amayzing Graces

Before we lose Thanksgiving in all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, I'd like to give you a small tool to help keep you in a state of gratitude.

It's a simple practice, devised by St. Ignatius Loyola, that invites us to review our recent past. It allows us to see ourselves truthfully every day if we will do it.

This simple prayer is called The Examen. We examine our day, our actions within it, and God's presence and action through it.

It is telling that it begins with gratitude.

I have an app that leads you through many variations of the Examen, and I would like to share part of the traditional prayer from it with you.

First, "I get into a comfortable position. I let my muscles relax and my mind quiet down. I take a deep breath and ask God to make his presence known around and in me. I feel this presence and soak in it."

Second, "I ask God to reveal all the gifts and graces he has given me today, from the big ones (life, safety, love) to the small ones (a good night's sleep, a phone call from a friend, a compliment). I thank God for each of these gifts."

(Reimagining the Examen - available in the App Store - Get it!)

There are more steps, including asking God to guide the rest of the prayer, reviewing the day giving thanks for the gifts in it, asking forgiveness for the times we fell short, and finally resolving to do better tomorrow, knowing that God will honor this request.

If you're having a hard time finding your gratitude, and even if you're not, try this prayer. It just takes a couple minutes, and it's well worth your time.

Photo: L May

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