By Doris Yu
October 4, 2017 — Today, on the Feast Day of St. Francis, the saint most identified with care for creation, two Jesuit organizations have partnered to produce what’s being called an Ecological Examen. While St. Francis provided part of the inspiration for the examen, the other muse is St. Ignatius of Loyola, co-founder of the Jesuits and the man responsible for popularizing the examen, also called the examination of conscience.
Developed by the Jesuit Conference, the organization that represents the Jesuits of the U.S. and Canada, and the Ignatian Solidarity Network, the Ecological Examen is similar to a traditional Ignatian examen in that it offers five simple steps for reflection.
Pope Francis visits survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in January 2015.
Unlike a traditional examen, though, this new one takes cues from Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, asking for reflection on an individual’s relationship with creation, on questions of ecological justice and on how we can all stand in solidarity with those most impacted by environmental harm. The five sections are categorized as gratitude, awareness, understanding, conversion and reconciliation.
In the examen, readers “give thanks to God for creation and for being wonderfully made” and “ask for the grace to see how my life choices impact creation and the poor and vulnerable.”
Cecilia Calvo, senior advisor on environmental justice at the Jesuit Conference said, “We hope this ecological examen helps individuals in their homes, parishes, schools, universities and communities to examine their relationship with creation, to hear the cry of the earth and the poor, and reflect on ways to reconcile their relationship with God’s creation.”
Lucas Sharma, SJ, a Jesuit scholastic at Seattle University, penned the first draft of the examen while working with the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology last summer.
Christopher Kerr, executive director of the Ignatian Solidarity Network, said, "Now more than ever, we need to reflect on the ways our care for the Earth impacts our brothers and sisters throughout the world. This examen provides a prayerful way for institutions and individuals can engage in ways that lead us into deeper relationship with God, creation, and others."
Jesuit Father Timothy Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference, has provided a video introduction to the examen below.
“The beauty of the examen is that it takes repetition,” Fr. Kesicki said. “Our relationship with God takes time, and in that relationship, we’re called to conversion.”
The full examen, a one-page summary, prayer card and all related materials are available at ecoexamen.org.