The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola are best suited for prayer during a silent retreat. However, Ignatius knew that they could also be effective when employed in a less isolated environment. It is the hope of the authors of this blog that you, the reader, find the meditations that we offer here useful in your own search to encounter Christ in prayer in your daily life. The meditations are intended to be prayed in order, from as close to the beginning as possible, perhaps over the course of a dedicated time such as the season of Lent. (more…)
Grace: To have a growing intense sorrow and, if God so wishes, even tears for my sins.
Text for Prayer: The Third Exercise of the First Week, Spiritual Exercises no. 62-63
Reflection: Why three colloquies? Every time that St. Ignatius calls for the triple colloquy is one that can be very emotional, and one where significant decisions and commitments are called for. Whenever I was little and very upset, I would run to my mother and tell her the whole story, typically in a very quick and jumbled way. My mother (like most mothers) would tell me to calm down and repeat myself. When I did, things usually became clearer for both of us. In making the colloquy three times, we are given a chance to sort out what it is we are saying. The full meaning of what we are asking can become clearer. We can make connections that we hadn’t made before. Implications to what we are asking can arise that hadn’t occurred to us before, and the gravity of what we are asking has a chance to sink in.
In addition, making three colloquies allows for a surer response. A lot can come up in each of these prayers and potentially overwhelm us. The Evil Spirit is accustomed to extracting promises from us at times when we are emotional and not thinking clearly only to then tell us that we cannot go back. God, on the other hand, allows time for clarity to set in. In making the colloquy three times, we have a chance to obtain that clarity and become more confident in what we are asking, relying less on emotions that are more liable to change. This, in turn, provides a safeguard against the temptations from the Evil Spirit that what we asked for or decided was a hasty decision made in the heat of the moment. If those temptations arise, we can remind ourselves that it was not just a quickly made decision, but one that we were asked to confirm ourselves in by making the colloquy two additional times.
Grace: To let go of secondary things and focus on what is truly important during this Lenten season.
Text for Prayer: Matthew 7:7-8
Reflection: At the end of several meditations in the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola recommends having a “triple colloquy” (see SpEx #62-63) to conclude the prayer period. Here he invites the retreatant to have a conversation in his imagination with Mary, begging her for the grace to be placed with her son beneath the cross, indifferent to one’s own comfort for the sake of following Christ. Ignatius asks the retreatant to speak to Mary in his or her own words and then conclude with a Hail Mary.
Rather than ending the prayer there, Ignatius then invites the retreatant to have two further conversations about the same topic. He asks the retreatant to repeat the same conversation with Jesus, begging more insistently for the same thing and ending with the Soul of Christ prayer. Finally, he instructs the retreatant to go to the Father Himself, begging with all of the passion one can muster and ending with an Our Father.
Grace: I ask for the knowledge of the true life exemplified in Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God, and the grace to live my life in his way.
Reading: Matthew 17:1-8
Reflection: I recently discovered a fascinating nugget of trivia from one of those often forgotten coffee table magazines. It stated that the average man speaks about 13,000 words per day and that the average woman speaks about 20,000 words per day. The article went on to claim that each person hears thousands more words than he or she will speak. I had never thought about that statistic before, so the numbers astounded me. (more…)
Grace: A growing intense sorrow and, if God so wishes, even tears for my sins.
Text for Prayer: the Third Exercise of the First Week, Spiritual Exercises no. 62-63
Reflection: In the Gospel of St. Luke, Our Lord tells the story of the persistent widow who won consideration from the judge because of her perseverance. Here in the colloquy we are called to persistence in prayer to obtain in a most particular way that grace which we desire in this First Week – to know our sins so as to reject them entirely and no longer offend God. In this prayer it is especially good to focus clearly on the grace we have been so earnestly seeking in our prayers to this point.
Certainly, prayer to Mary, Christ, or the God the Father is effective on its own; however, in combination and succession, this way of speaking with those who can most help us achieve our eternal good is especially efficacious. This is St. Ignatius’s genius.