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

April 8, 2014 |

Grace: An intimate knowledge of our Lord, Who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely.

Texts for Prayer: Mt. 4.18-22Mk. 1.16-20, Lk. 5.1-11, or Jn. 1.35-51

Reflection: We begin the Exercises by contemplating our sins, and how God’s love calls us to reform our ways. But the call does not stop there. From the start of the Second Week, with the call of Christ the King, we have been considering and mulling over in our hearts and minds what more the Father calls us to in the context of Jesus’ example of continually responding to the Father. Now, we see the call of the apostles, the first citizens of the kingdom that Christ is establishing “on earth as it is in heaven.”

As C.S. Lewis was fond of saying about Christianity, “it’s a religion you couldn’t have guessed.” This is certainly true with the call of the apostles. No theological training beyond whatever catechesis any Jew of the day would have gotten, no special eloquence, not even a high success rate at being disciples once they were called. It seems as though half the stories in the gospels about the apostles are about how they were getting things wrong. But with every failure they got back up and continued to follow Christ; eventually even Peter, who out of fear denied knowing Jesus at all, asked out of love for Jesus not to be crucified in the same way Jesus was, as he was not worthy to die in the same manner as the Lord.

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April 8th, 2014 | |

March 19, 2013 |

Grace: An intimate knowledge of our Lord, Who has called me, that I might love Him more and follow Him more closely.

Text for Prayer: John 1: 31-51

Reflection: The Apostles who were called to follow Jesus are well described by the motto of Pope Francis: miserando atque eligendo (“miserable yet chosen”).  None of the Apostles are particularly well-suited to the task prior to Jesus calling them. For that matter, they are not particularly well-suited to the task even after Jesus calls them. On one occasion in Mark’s gospel, they fail to drive out a demon, requiring Jesus to do so for them. When they are uncertain as to why they failed, Jesus responds that “this kind can only be driven out through prayer” (9:29). Evidently, the Apostles did not realize that spiritual warfare required communion with God. Of course, as time goes on we see multiple misunderstandings (one of which caused Jesus to call Simon “Satan” moments after naming him “Peter”) and the Apostles desert Jesus during the Passion. Throughout Jesus’ life, the Apostles have no difficulty living up to the first part of Francis’ motto. Mercifully, the story goes on.

Jesus is persistent in His dealings with the Apostles. Were He a savvy businessman, Jesus would likely have shown the Apostles the door after failing to live up to the corporate mission statement. But these are the people whom He has chosen, and He will not abandon them—even if they do not always return the favor. He constantly forms them, constantly teaches them, constantly strives to help them live up to the glory of their vocation as His followers.

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March 19th, 2013 | |

March 27, 2012 |

Grace: An intimate knowledge of our Lord, Who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely.

Texts for Prayer: Mt 4.18-22Mk 1.16-20Lk 5.1-11, or Jn 1.35-51

Reflection: One of the most striking things about all of the passages about the calling of the first disciples is the fact that Jesus calls each of the disciples in pairs. Although He would build His Church on the foundation of Peter, He also calls his brother, Andrew. Likewise with James and John, Philip and Nathan’a-el. In a similar way, Jesus not only calls each of the disciples to their ministry with a companion, He also sends them out in pairs (Mk. 6:7). That might seem like a waste at first, for they could have reached twice as many people if they had gone out individually. But Jesus chooses to be among us wherever two or more are gathered (Mt. 18:20), and the disciples’ ministry to the wider world is drawn not just from the depths of the individual minister’s own gifts and abilities. Rather, it is the disciples’ sharing of the communion that already exists between them that helps to bring about conversion in those to whom they are sent. In community, the disciples are strengthened and—in community—they are sent out on their mission to follow the Lord.

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March 27th, 2012 | |

March 23, 2010 |

Grace: an intimate knowledge of our Lord, Who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely.

Texts for Prayer: Matthew 4.18-22, Mark 1.16-20, Luke 5.1-11, or John 1.35-51

Reflection: During the “First Week” of the Exercises, we heard Christ’s call to repentance and reformation of life.  In that week we gain a “felt knowledge” that God has created us in His love and redeemed us in Christ.  He never abandons us.  No, He goes so far as to search us out in order to bring us back to a fuller and more abundant life in His presence.

But the call to reform one’s life is not the only call we hear from God.  Looking at the example of Jesus, we see that Christ was in constant conversation with his Father.  Tired from an exhausting day of proclamation and ministry, he went off to a quiet place and spoke with his Father in heaven.  From there, the Father sent Jesus out in the Spirit to minister to the people, to gather disciples, to move to new towns, and finally to journey toward Jerusalem.  God’s continual call is not lacking to us, either.  Like Jesus, we also will hear the Father’s voice, provided we have ears to hear.

Today we pray with the apostles who experienced the manifold call of God.  As St. Ignatius points out, the apostles first became acquainted with the person of Jesus and then heard his call to repentance.  They experienced the “first week” as John the Baptist and Jesus preached repentance through the hillside of Galilee.  The apostles, however, heard yet another call: leave all behind and follow me.  In the mystery of the Trinitarian design for the world, these particular people were called to extraordinary tasks in furthering the kingdom of God.

Notice while praying with the call stories that there is nothing to recommend the apostles over others, unless one counts fishing as the most exalted profession.  St. Ignatius assumes that they are simple and uneducated men.  Yet Christ’s call raised them to a great dignity. Do we think ourselves unworthy of the call of Christ?  Of course we are.  We know that enduring the difficulties of following Christ’s particular call is beyond our own strength.  We need God’s assistance.  That is exactly what Christ is offering in these stories.

Remember that the grace sought during the “second week” of the Exercises is a deep interior knowledge of Jesus so that, loving Him, we might grow in our desire to follow His call.  Let this grace remain within you as you continue through the second week.

March 23rd, 2010 | |