As Catholic Christians, we know and value the power of prayer. Even if our prayer life needs some bolstering, prayer is where we turn when we are sad, confused, frustrated, and happy. There are many types of prayer available to us that suits our personality, preference, and mood. Last year when I was in the hospital for a minor surgical procedure and was in quite a bit of pain, rote prayers were the perfect answer because I didn’t need to think – the familiar words just poured out. Other times, when we just want to talk to God, extemporaneous prayer is the right choice. Our Protestant brothers and sisters are much better at extemporaneous prayer than we are, but if you follow the simple 5 – Finger Rule, it is quite easy: Thumb – invocation (Dear God), Index Finger – One sentence praising God, Middle Finger – One sentence thanking God, Ring Finger – One sentence asking God for help, either for yourself or someone else, and Pinky Finger – Closing (In Jesus’ Name we pray).
Another type of prayer is brought to us by the Jesuits. At the end of the day, Ignatian Spirituality teaches that it is important to conduct a Daily Examen. The method is a technique described by Ignatius Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises in which you review the day in the presence of God. It is more of an attitude than a method, and the five steps are as follows:
- Ask God for Light (I want to look at my day with God’s eyes, not merely my own.)
- Give Thanks (The day I have just lived is a gift from God. I am grateful for it.)
- Review the Day (I carefully look back on the day completed, being guided by the Holy Spirit.)
- Face Your Shortcomings (I face up to what is wrong – in my life and in me.)
- I Look Toward Tomorrow (I ask where I need God in the day to come.)
St. Michael’s School is in the process of its own Examen. Where are we serving God to our best ability, and where might God want us to make some changes/improvements? We look carefully at “the present day” – giving thanks for all of the gifts that have been given to us by God, but we also look toward to “tomorrow” and discern any shortcomings we need to correct.
Our school is accredited through the Western Catholic Education Association (WCEA), and the Western Association of Colleges and Schools (WASC). In February, 2019 we received a full, six year accreditation; our next visit will be in the Spring of 2025. During the six year span between visits, we are engaged in much work honing our practices to ensure our students are improving and learning to the best of their ability. We have experienced some wonderful affirmation in the years since our last accreditation, including our recognition as a Visible Learning Associate School, our partnership with The University of Notre Dame as a STEM school, and in our two teams who won First Place at the Regional Future City Competition, in 2020 and this year. But we cannot rest on our laurels – we continue to give thanks, reflect, and make plans for tomorrow.