Why is it so very difficult in our privileged society to be grateful for the countless gifts we have been given? How do we raise grateful children when they have never really experienced a lack of anything? These are the two questions I was pondering when I went in search of a Catholic app on gratitude. Not really too many options, but this app did come up and I’m really glad it did. It’s called ‘Reimagining the Examen’ and is it available on Android and iOS today.
Although the practise of a daily examen is an ancient one in the Church, I first learned about it through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. He thought that the Daily Examen was a gift from God and it was part of the Jesuit’s rule to conduct an Examen twice a day. I found this site to be particularly useful in learning about St. Ignatius and the Daily Examen:
If any of you have tried to follow the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, you know it is somewhat intimidating. It is definitely not a commitment I feel able to undertake at this time in my life. In fact, I have always found doing any type of examination/ examen/ meditation somewhat difficult. I can’t seem to quiet my soul long enough, I know, that’s probably an issue! It could also be the fact that I have four children under 11 (excuse).
The Daily Examen as presented in this app is so easy to implement into my daily life though, and the simple way it lead me through each day was so effective. What does this app have to do with gratefulness you might ask? Well, one of the examinations focuses on gratitude, I found it to be very effective. Let me explain how it is set up.
There is nothing complicated about this app. It is free which is great. It took about 20 minutes to fully install, on my old iPod. It opens right up to a Daily Examen page and it’s ready to go.
There are 34 Daily Examen in total, each with a pretty background picture and a different focus for the Examen exercise. You can let the app choose the topic of the day, or you can use the menu at the left hand corner to choose your topic of choice. There is the option to have sound, I found it somewhat distracting and each topic had a different sound associated with it.
I found that annoying, I wanted to keep a specific sound in the background, but everyday it would change it on me! I personally didn’t find the sound of birds chirping or a campfire burning very conducive to prayer, but that might just be me – again its hard enough to quiet my soul!
The list begins with the traditional format of the Daily Examen, which doesn’t have a particular topic, but leads you through an Examen of your whole day. This was a great way for me to easily get through an Examen without feeling the anxiety of trying to get through the process just in my head. I loved the simple way this was laid out and the simple language that was used.
The app leads you through the process of the Examen with a series of slides which have a meditation, teaching, guided reflection, etc. on it. I found the topics they chose to be so meaningful and relevant to the challenges I face on a daily basis. The gentle way the app leads you through the Examen was so effective in drawing me into prayer.
As I mentioned earlier I wished I could set the background noise permanently. Also when the sound was on, on top of the background sound, there was an additional sound every time I swept to the next slide. I found that to be disruptive to the meditative mood I was drawn into by the material.
The other annoyance was that the swipe for the slides didn’t always respond right away. I can’t figure out if that was a purposeful thing, to get me to stay on the slide longer and reflect more or if it was being glitchy :). I’m pretty sure it’s the latter! If it isn’t that’s a bit annoying that the app would determine how long I should stay on the slide, but now I’m showing my control freak side.
Overall, I LOVED this app for the content and beautifully simple design. Most importantly I LOVED how this app lead me through prayer and reflection drawing me closer to God – it doesn’t get much more useful than that. Just this app alone at the end of the day would be enough to deepen your faith and prayer. But I think that as I got into the rhythm of this self-guided examen, I would find myself getting more and more in touch with God and with His love.