Ignatius's visit to Montserrat was part of an intense and difficult period for him: he was recovering from a battle injury to his leg, and he was struggling to leave behind his privileged and prestigious past as a noble man.
At Montserrat, Ignatius began to live his faith, spending all night in prayer before the statue of the Virgin. He put on simple clothes and gave his expensive clothing to a beggar.
After Ignatius?s visit to Montserrat, he stopped at Manresa, a small town nearby. He planned to spend to spend a few nights writing down his thoughts, but he stayed for 11 months and left profoundly changed. The fruit of Ignatius's reflections at Manresa became one of the greatest works of Christian spirituality, the Spiritual Exercises.
Spiritual writers tell us that it is good for us to review our choices and actions at the end of each day. They say that we should focus on the good choices we made as well as the bad ones. The idea is not to create guilt feelings but to make us aware of the direction in which we are going so that we can change direction whenever necessary. The focus ought to be not just on what I did but why I did it. What were my priorities? An examination of conscience can have a different focus each time—my family, my job, my life in society—and it can be based on different perspectives.
St. Ignatius of Loyola described a five-step Examen. Try the Daily Examen here.