The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to the Daily Examen

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 - 8:27am

The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to the Daily Examen

Inside: This introduction to practicing the Daily Examen will give you everything you need to get started today!


His deep booming voice echoed throughout the chapel as I looked at the stained glass window of St. Joseph.  Each question spoke directly to me and I wanted to remember them.

"Have I consistently led my family in prayer?"

"Have I let fear guide my actions?"

"Did I waste time when I could have been spending more time reading God's word?"

I wish I could say that the answer to all of the questions was a resounding "yes!"

But it was definitely a muted "no".

I've been at this for a while now. So, I should be able to answer "yes" at this point, right?


Bonus: Download free guides of two Daily Examens to help you grow in virtue.


But Here's the Truth

You are never going to be perfect in this life and if you think you will be then you need to shift your focus growing your relationship with Jesus.  

If you want to grow in holiness and improve living a life of virtue, it is imperative to consistently do a brief daily examen. This is because it gives you time daily to reflect where you saw God working in your life, so you have the opportunity to thank Him for his blessings and grace.  Additionally, it gives you the chance every day to see where you went wrong and need improvement.  How can you make progress in the spiritual life if you don’t pay attention to your mistakes?  You can’t, unless you do a daily examen.

This is similar to sports.

In baseball, you have to keep your eye on the ball to hit it.  If you keep striking out, you start to see where you are going wrong.  You may try to tweak your stance, your grip, or whatever you need to tweak to get the hits.  You won’t improve unless you pay attention to what you are doing and make the change.


It’s the same with growing in virtue.  You have to know what to tweak in order to get better at avoiding the same attachments and sins day in and day out. 


Therefore, in order to pay attention to your day when it comes to living in accordance with God’s will, avoiding sin and growing in virtue, it is encouraged for you to start practicing this form of reflection.

Related: 4 Astoundingly Easy Ways to Find a Spiritual Director

The Best Time For Conducting a Daily Examen


The best practice is to incorporate it into your night prayer or replace your night prayer with it, before you go to sleep. 


You can and should do this with your spouse and children to encourage spiritual reflection and growth in virtue.  Of course, don't mention your sins to your children! 

Many people get discouraged by their inability to remove certain sins from their lives.  The daily examen, daily rosary, and frequent confession are sure ways to make progress.  God gives us the grace to overcome any sins if we take the time to repent and atone for them.

There are many options out there with questions to ask yourself, and then think about.  Here, we will guide you through a very brief daily examen to use for before you shove off to sleep.


Finally, if you begin to realize that there is a specific sin that you are having difficulty with, you will definitely want to go to confession, but also try doing a particular examen which is a form of the examen where you scrutinze your actions pertaining to a particualr sin.


The following examen is created using a compilation of the traditional, particular, and general examens.  Use it as a guide and tweak it to work for you.  There are two options included.  One is for if you are in a rush and need to do it quickly.  The other is for really taking your time.  There are definitely more thorough ones out there, so if you are looking for something different, you can search around.  If you want to know more, check out Fr. John Hardon’s brief explanation.

Download: Two Daily Examens to Help You Grow in Virtue



The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to the Daily Examen



The Guide to the Daily Examen


Version 1 – Very Brief Daily Examen


  1. Place yourself in the presence of God asking him for illumination on your day.

    Ask yourself the following question while reflecting for 30 seconds:
  2. Where did I see God working in my life today?

    Then ask yourself the following question while reflecting for another 30 seconds:
  3. Where were the times that I slipped up and could have done better living virtuously?
  4. Ask God for true contrition for your sins and to understand the impact on Him and others, and for His help in avoiding sin.
  5. Make a resolution on one specific sin that you need to improve on, and to not do again tomorrow, and remember it.
  6. Pray the “Act of Contrition”

    Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and detest all my sins because of Thy just punishment; but most of all because I have offended Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

Related: The Essential Catholic Guide to Meditation


Download the Free "Very Brief Daily Examen" Booklet

Version 2 – In Depth Daily Examen
(The Five Wounds of Christ)

Best Done in Front of a Crucifix


  1. Opening Prayer

    Dear Lord Jesus, living in Mary, come live in Thy servants, by the spirit of Thy holiness, by the fullness of Thy power, by the perfection of Thy ways, by the truth of Thy virtues, and by the communication of Thy mysteries. Triumph over all enemies by Thy spirit for the glory of the Father. Amen
  2. Prayer for Illumination (Prayer of St. Ephrem)

    Dear Lord Jesus, open the eyes and ears of my heart, that I may understand Thy oracles (truths) and perform Thy holy will.
  3. Reading of the New Testament – (Omit if in a hurry, but try to do it because it’s important)

    Read an excerpt from the New Testament and reflect on what you read – take a minute or two.
  4. Thanksgiving (Wound of the Right Hand)

    Take a moment and think about the Wound of Jesus’ right hand and give thanks.

    I adore you and thank you, Lord, for the pain of enduring the Crucifixion. Thank you for your mercy. Thank you for your graces. Thank you for your blessings. Thank you for your favors. Thank you for loving me. Add any additional words of thanks here_________.

    Kiss the Right Hand

Related: The Essential Catholic Guide to Meditation

  1. Petition (Wound of the Left Hand)

    Take a moment and think about the Wound of Jesus’ left hand and ask for Divine Light so you can know your faults.

    Dear Lord Jesus, I beg you to give me the grace of knowing, despising, and rejecting my sins. Please grant me true contrition of my sins, that I may better understand their effects, that I may turn from them with greater vigilance, so I may not displease you anymore. Please Lord, I want to grow in holiness and virtue. Please give me the strength to love you with all that I am.

    Kiss the Left Hand
  2. Examination of Conscience (Wound of the Right Foot)

    Take a moment and think about the Wound of Jesus’ right foot as you contemplate the times you have sinned.

    Dear Lord Jesus, who was overwhelmed with sorrow when you took on the weight of my sins in the Garden, please fill my heart with that same grief, that I may have true contrition for my sins. Amen

Read the Following Questions and Reflect


  1. I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.
  • Did I put God first today, make time for prayer, remember to offer Him my joys and sufferings?
  • Did I defend my Catholic Faith by my words, and deeds?
  1. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  • Have I wished evil upon anyone?
  • Did I use foul language, laugh or participate in crude conservation, especially in front of children?
  1. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
  • Did I make time to rest, pray, and spend time with my family?
  1. Honor your father and mother.
  • Did I bring peace into my home life today?
  • Was I a good example to my family today?
  1. You shall not kill.
  • Have I held a grudge, resentment or failed to forgive someone?
  • Did I pray for my enemies?
  • Did I abuse food, alcohol, drugs, etc. today?
  1. You shall not commit adultery…You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
  • Did I practice custody of the eyes in all that I allowed myself to view?
  • Did I dress modestly?
  • Did I do, say, or not say anything that is contrary to Church’s teaching on sex, marriage, or life?
  1. You shall not steal…You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
  • Did I waste time at work or at home?
  • Was I jealous of what someone else has?
  • Was I greedy or selfish?
  1. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
  • Did I lie about something today?
  • Did I gossip about someone today?
  • Was I critical, negative, or uncharitable in my thoughts about someone?

    Kiss the Right Foot
  1. Atonement (Wound of the Left Foot)

    Take a moment and think about the Wound of Jesus’ left foot and repent.

    Dear Lord Jesus, I will never know in this life how my sinfulness has burdened you and others. I have allowed evil to enter the world by my rejection of you, your truth, and your love.

    Act of Contrition

    Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and detest all my sins because of Thy just punishment; but most of all because I have offended Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

    Kiss the Left Foot


  1. Resolution (Wound of the Heart of Jesus)

    Take a moment and think about the Wound of Jesus’ heart and pick one sin to work on for tomorrow.

    Dear Lord Jesus, please give me the strength to keep my resolution. In your name, Jesus Christ, I renounce (name the sin) and I beg you to give me the grace to follow through, so that I may draw closer to you. Amen.

    Kiss the Wound of the Heart of Jesus



Download the Free "In Depth Daily Examen" Booklet

We hope this will help you hone in on trouble areas in your life as you try and grow in virtue and draw closer to our Lord, Jesus Christ.  May it also bring you peace as you prepare to go to sleep each night.



Tony and Kendra


Prayers and prayer excerpts found in Particular Examen, by James F. McElhone, C.S.C., Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1952.

The Beads: Rosary Meditations Guided by the Saints


This Rosary Meditation Guide will help you meditate on the life of our Lord, Jesus Christ by taking you bead-by-bead on a journey using reflections from the Douay-Rheims Bible, St. Alphonsus De Liguori, and St. Bonaventure.

If you're looking for a new resource to help you pray the Rosary better and stay more focused, definitely check out "The Beads."


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