Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Beginning Lent with a day of reflection
on Ash Wednesday in Skerries

A day of reflections in Skerries … the courtyard in the Olive Café (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015

Patrick Comerford

I spent most of today in Skerries at the annual Ash Wednesday Retreat for the staff and students of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute.

We go away for a full day of prayer, guided reflection and silence. We begin with the Liturgy of the Word, followed by an opportunity for the imposition of ashes. The day concludes with the Liturgy of the Sacrament.

Yesterday, we had our Ash Wednesday retreat in Skerries, where we were guided though the day by the Revd Garth Bunting of Christ Church Cathedral.

We spent most of the day in Skerries Sailing Club, with views out across the Harbour and down onto the two beaches with which Skerries is blessed, and ended with our celebration of the Eucharist in Holmpatrick Church.

It was a day for prayer, guided reflection and silence. We began with the Liturgy of the Word, followed by an opportunity for the imposition of ashes. The day concluded with the Liturgy of the Sacrament.

After a night and a day of stay-at-home illness, it was good to be out and about again, with physical and spiritual refreshment.

Walking the beach in Skerries this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford 2015)

Throughout the day, where we were guided by the Revd Garth Bunting of Christ Church Cathedral, who introduced us to the Prayer of Examen

The Daily Examen is an Ignatian technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience.

The method is adapted from a technique described by Saint Ignatius Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises. Saint Ignatius thought that the Examen was a gift that came directly from God, and that God wanted it to be shared as widely as possible.

One of the few rules of prayer that Ignatius made for the Jesuit order was the requirement that Jesuits practice the Examen twice daily – at noon and at the end of the day.

This is a summary of the version of the five-step Daily Examen that we were introduced to today:

1, Recall that you are in the presence of God.

2, Spend a moment looking over your day with gratitude for this day’s gifts.

3, Ask God to send you his Holy Spirit to help you look at your action and attitudes and motives with honesty and patience.

4, Now review your day.

5, The final step is your heart-to-heart talk with Christ … Look toward tomorrow.

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