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How to do a Yearly Examen for spiritual clarity in the New Year

The best way to move forward in the spiritual life is to look back and examine what worked and what didn’t.

The New Year often fills us with hope, as we say to ourselves, “Next year will be better!” The last 12 months may not have gone exactly as we had wanted and our original New Year’s resolutions may have only endured to the middle of January. Whatever may be the case, we look forward to the future and have a glimmer of hope that our current situation will improve.While looking forward to what could be can keep our spirits up for the moment, a much deeper exercise that provides more nourishment to the soul consists of reviewing the entire year and being thankful for the many blessings (and crosses) that God has given us.

This process allows a person to understand where they are and where God’s actions may be leading them. In other words, it is only in looking back that one can move forward.

One way to reflect on the past year is to make a Yearly Examen. This practice is simply an extension of the Daily Examen that is a central part of Ignatian spirituality. The Daily Examen is practice where an individual stops two times during the day (at midday and at the close of the day) to examine God’s activity and to recognize any faults or sins committed.

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