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 know the mercy of the Father and His unconditional love for me in the midst of my sinfulness.
Text for Prayer: Lk. 15:11-32
Reflection: Jesus’ story of the prodigal son provides a uniquely comprehensive vision of the nature of our own sinfulness, the mercy of our heavenly Father even in light of that sinfulness, and the beauty of the encounter when we finally come home to that mercy.
To start with, it is good to note that for the son to go and ask for his inheritance while his father is still alive is effectively proclaiming to the father that he might as well be dead as far as he is concerned. The radical selfishness that takes over the son’s desires has no room for concern for anyone else, including the one who gave him life itself. The son proceeds to operate unhesitatingly according to this self-centered worldview as he goes to a “far off country”—far from home and far from the source of his life.
Grace: To have a heartfelt knowledge of God’s unconditional love for me and that I may find the spiritual freedom to love him in return.
Text for Prayer: Lk 15:11-32
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. (Confessions)
Reflection: Those are the words that St. Augustine of Hippo used to describe his conversion. He sought beauty, love, truth and joy everywhere, but only found them when he looked within. I have always found comfort and solace in those words. They disclose the journey of a soul as it learns to truly love and accept True Love.
The parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32), chronicles such a journey—the quest of a wasteful man, through the misery of his own ingratitude, to the joy of restored communion with his father and the members of his household. The tale begins with the prodigality—the extravagant wastefulness—of a son who asks his father for his share of the inheritance. The son, who I have always called Marty, is wasteful because he fails to understand that everything is grace. He has lived with plenty his whole life. He benefited from his father’s wealth but was never truly grateful for it.
Grace: To gain knowledge of what I have lost through sin and to then have the courage to return to the Father who loves me.
Text: Lk 15
Reflection: In the three parables from today’s text for prayer, we hear of three people who go searching for what they have lost. Whether each has lost a sheep or a coin or his very own beloved son, they all search for it earnestly until it is found. The motivation for their search arises from their knowledge of not only that the item or the person has been lost, but also of the value of what has been lost. The search itself shows us that the person who has lost something desperately wants to find it and is willing to expend great amounts of energy in order to once again hold what is lost close to his (or her) heart.
This obviously applies to the search of the Father for the son, for (while the son is still a long way off) the Father rushes out to him and puts a ring on his finger and a robe on his shoulders. His eagerness is evident from his meeting the prodigal one after his first signs of repentence and his first attempt to return home to the Father. Rejecting the base and vile existence that he once chose for himself, the son’s return is a source of great joy and gladness for the Father.
Grace: To know the mercy of the Father and His unconditional love for me — even in the midst of my sinfulness.
Text for Prayer: Lk. 15:11-32
Reflection: The Prodigal Son story is one of the most familiar parables in the New Testament that one can return to time and again. We recall the basic outline: The son, wanting to strike out on his own, approaches his father for his inheritance early. He travels into the far country, away from what is known and safe, and gives himself to a life of debauchery and misery. Exhausted and penniless from trying to go it alone, he finds his way back to his father’s house in fear and trembling of his father’s rejection. And upon his return, his ever-watchful father sees him coming and “was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.”
With familiarity, it is easy to breeze through the parable’s narrative. “I’ve seen this movie before,” we say, and besides, most of us take for granted that when you reach a certain age, you move on from your parents’ home, and learn from your own mistakes. And as frequently happens nowadays, people move for jobs or higher education halfway across the country with little thought of duties to their parents. Our culture revels in breaking free and experiencing the world. The idea of living with one’s parents is unusual and unwelcome.