An Examen for the Environment

October 13, 2017

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Lucas Sharma, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic who joined Seattle University’s Arrupe Community this year, played an integral role in creating a new resource for contemplating the challenge of climate change. 

Modeled on the Examen, a technique for prayerful reflection that Jesuit founder St. Ignatius incorporated into The Spiritual Exercises, “Reconciling God, Creation and Humanity: Ecological Examen” invites us to a deeper understanding of our responsibility for the environment and those communities that are most impacted by its degradation. 

Sharma, an instructor in the Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work, wrote the first draft of the Examen while working as an intern with the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology last summer. The conference, which represents the Jesuits of the U.S. and Canada, collaborated with the Ignatian Solidarity Network to produce the Examen. 

“The hope of the project was to bring together our rich tradition of Ignatian spirituality, Pope Francis’ call for ecological justice in Laudato Si’, and our most recent Jesuit General Congregation’s call that we be persons who work for reconciliation in our world today,” explains Sharma. “Together with the Ignatian Solidarity Network, I wrote this examen to ask how we might connect what we know about climate change and environmental destruction with our knowledge that the poor are often disproportionately affected by environmental damages. Certainly too, we hope that people would pray with this tool in a way that would call for increased protection and reverence of our common home and the people who we live with on our earth.” 

A member of the Jesuits West Province, Sharma has a master’s in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago and an M.A. in Philosophy from Fordham University. 

“The experience (of drafting the examen),” he says, “was a part prayer in itself—looking at my own experience with the Examen Prayer and asking, what might Ignatius’ (examen), which has been powerful in my own life, teach us about creation? Doing that, I saw in myself ways that my own choices negatively impact the earth and my local communities. This quickly turned into a larger discussion between the Ignatian Solidarity Network, the Jesuit Conference and other Jesuit and lay partners committed to environmental justice. Together, we offer this tool as a way for individuals and groups to enter into conversations about care for creation.” 

You can read more about the Examen and follow a link to the full set of related materials at Jesuits.