Getting Started

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…)

March 6th, 2014

March 20, 2014 |

Grace: Not to be deaf to the Lord’s call, but prompt and diligent to accomplish His most holy will.

Text: Spiritual Exercises 91-98

Reflection: Today Ignatius calls us to ponder the call of an earthly king. Imagine his stirring speech as he inspires his citizens join him on a noble campaign for a just cause. He promises us that we shall have to go through hardships: going to bed hungry many nights, battling biting cold and fierce heat, arduous marches, doubts about our ability to succeed. We shall suffer much, but on the day of victory we shall share in the victory with the king.

Most of us today do not live under kings but we can still find parallels to what Ignatius is describing. We all have experiences of taking on hardships for the sake of a cause greater than ourselves.  Maybe it was being on a sports team in high school. Maybe it is marriage and raising a family. Maybe you felt this after 9/11. Whatever it might be, call to mind a time when you united yourself with others for a good purpose, even though it meant encountering difficulties. Recall what moved you, as you looked at the difficulties and still said “Yes!” Recall how you forgot about yourself and felt your heart on fire with generosity.

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March 20th, 2014 | |

February 28, 2013 |

Grace:  That I hear the call of Christ, and be ready and willing to answer it.

Text for Prayer:  Luke 4:14-31

Reflection:  Our lives are guided by ideals—we use them to measure our failures and successes, to orient the desires of our hearts, to motivate ourselves or others when the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, and for a number of other reasons.  We have a vision of what a perfect life would be like: a beautiful and virtuous spouse, a number of wonderful children, a beautiful home, financial security, enough material wealth to share with friends and family, being involved in Church, having a meaningful and profound relationship with God, justice and peace in our neighborhood, our city, our state, our country, our world.  We can tweak this however we want, but this is what we would ultimately have the world if we were given the power to make it so, right? Daydreams are where these ideals come alive in our imagination, and help to motivate us to take action.

We all know the world needs help.  Open a newspaper and read the headlines—tragedy and strife are in great supply.  If it were up to us, how would we fix the world?  What the world be like?  How would we run things if we had the power and authority to make a difference?  How would we get others involved?  How would we try and inspire others to live better lives, to contribute to our plans for a better, more loving, and peaceful world?  How would we endure the hardships that come with great responsibility?  How would we share the glory and prestige of making the world better with others?

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February 28th, 2013 | |

March 8, 2012 |

Grace: Not to be deaf to the Lord’s call, but prompt and diligent to accomplish His most holy will.

Text: Please briefly read Spiritual Exercises 91-98 before reviewing the Reflection below.  After reading the Reflection, please review the text from the Exercises, and feel free to repeat this exercise as long as you are drawing fruit from it.

Reflection: St. Ignatius is first calling us to imagine being exhorted by an earthly king to follow him so that we may thereby better recognize Jesus as our Eternal King and hear His call.  But unless you live in Downton Abbey, it might be hard to imagine what it would be like to hear the call of an earthly king.

What do you think of when you hear the word king?  Does Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings come to mind, or another fictional character?  Since we do not live in a medieval age, the notion of kings and knights might be foreign to us.  In this contemplation, it is completely appropriate to utilize an imaginary king or leader as from a novel or a fairy tale since few of us may have had any lived experience of an earthly king. (more…)

March 8th, 2012 | |

March 4, 2010 |

Grace: not to be deaf to the Lord’s call, but prompt and diligent to accomplish His most holy will.

Text for Prayer: Spiritual Exercises 91-98

Reflection: One of the hallmarks of Ignatian spirituality is the virtue of magnanimity, greatness of heart.  Ignatius, being a former soldier and member of a royal court, transformed the ideals of that system and directed them toward Christian ends.  In the royal court, the magnanimous man was one who devoted himself to great ventures and high ideals in the service of a king or queen.  For Ignatius, Christian magnanimity also strives after high ideals and great ventures, but all oriented toward Christ and His Kingdom.

In today’s meditation upon the Kingdom of Christ, we want to keep in mind, first of all, that the desire within our heart is brought to fruition, not by ourselves, but by our relationship to Jesus.  We begin our meditation asking our Lord for the grace “not to be deaf to His call, but prompt and diligent to accomplish His most holy will.”

We take the attitude of the lowly page, waiting in anguish for that moment when the King looks our way and finally calls us to action.  Imagine that page who has spent his life preparing for the day when he might be of some small service.  Then consider the moment when the good and noble king arrives to announce to his subjects that he has a glorious campaign in mind, how he seeks to go throughout the world in order to vanquish barbarism and lift up lands to a noble order.  The campaign would be difficult.  There would be evenings of cold and hunger.  There would be moments where one would doubt his ability to accomplish the task before him.  But those who share in the sufferings will share all the more in the glory.  Consider the burning heart of the magnanimous page who devotes himself to a good and generous king.  Consider also the pusillanimous (small-hearted) page who sluggardly returns to his home to enjoy his private comfort.  Who would you rather be?

Having prepared your mind with this or some other analogy of an earthly ruler, then shift your attention to Christ who has also gone out into the world and called subjects to himself.  He also has a campaign in mind to establish God’s Kingdom in the hearts of all.  Being faithful to the call He received from His Father, Jesus suffered trial and temptation, cold and hunger, rejection and death.  But the Father raised His Son to glory, and from the Father’s right hand Jesus still calls us into his service.  We will suffer the same trials as He, but we will also share in the glory of the Father.  What is our response?  Ignatius composes a prayer to help us formulate how we might answer:

Eternal Lord of all things, in the presence of Thy infinite goodness, and of Thy glorious mother, and of all the saints of Thy heavenly court, this is the offering of myself which I make with Thy favor and help.  I protest that it is my earnest desire and my deliberate choice, provided only it is for Thy greater service and praise, to imitate Thee in bearing all wrongs and all abuse and all poverty, both actual and spiritual, should Thy most holy majesty deign to choose and admit me to such a state and way of life.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8f/StJohnsAshfield_StainedGlass_King.JPG

Questions:  How does Jesus appear to you in this mediation?  What is your reaction when you hear Jesus call you?  In what way does the Call of Christ set your heart ablaze?  How does your experience of praying through your own sin affect how you pray with this meditation?

March 4th, 2010 | |