I can’t decide whether it is fitting or ironic that the Gospel on the last day of our calendar year starts with the words “In the beginning.” In the next few days, many people will be making New Year’s resolutions to exercise more, eat healthier, read more books, etc. Today, though, on this last day of 2013, and the seventh day of Christmas, we also have the opportunity to look back on our year and see how God has been working in our lives.

One of the most fundamental Ignatian prayer tools is the Examen. This daily prayer can help us become more aware of God each day. Another way of looking at the Examen, though, would be to look back over the past year and take note of where we have experienced God. The Gospel reading reminds us that God, the Word, “made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth.”

As I examine the past year in my life, I go through this modified Examen process:

1. Take time to simply be in God’s presence

2. Reflect on those gifts from the year that I am thankful for

3. Review the year, taking special note of the instances where I felt God’s presence, or an increase in faith, hope and love

4. Take note of the instances where I struggled to find God, or felt a decrease in faith, hope, and love

5. Look ahead to next year: What is God inviting me to in 2014?

Happy New Year!

—Lauren Gaffey is Director of Programs and Administration at Charis Ministries. Founded in 2000, Charis Ministries reaches those in their 20s and 30s nationwide, nurturing their faith through retreats based in Ignatian spirituality. www.charisministries.org