March 12, 2011

The weekends will be dedicated to repetitions– going back to your prayers in order to allow a particular grace from that prayer to deepen. The purpose of repetitions can be made clear with two examples: one from the life of St. Ignatius, one from contemporary life.

In his Autobiography, St. Ignatius recalled how when he was having his experiences in the caves of Manresa that would later become the Exercises, God treated him “just as a schoolmaster treats a child whom he is teaching.” By his own admission, in those days Ignatius was not always the quickest learner when it came to the spiritual life. Ignatius had his own ideas of how to follow God’s will, and the Lord patiently instructed him otherwise. Eventually, Ignatius recognized the truth of that old adage repetitio mater studiorum (“repetition is the mother of studies”), and saw how it applied equally to the classroom and the chapel. In the classroom, we rarely ever understand a lesson by giving the textbook just one look. Often, we’ll need to go back a few times to see what is being said, and a few more times to see how it fits in with everything else that we’ve learned. So too in prayer: often, we’ll need to go back a few times to understand what is going on in a prayer period, and a few more times to see how the grace of the prayer fits in to our own lives.

A more modern example can be found in watching a movie. I remember reading about this group of people who would watch the movies of a certain director with great care. First they watched the movie all the way though, and then they would go scene by scene in slow motion, to analyze the shots– why is the clock positioned there, what is the significance of the items on the shelf, etc. By looking at these details, they were then able to have a richer understanding of the whole movie. When we pray in Ignatian contemplation, we offer up our imaginations to the Lord, allowing Him to show us various things (scenes from the Gospels, events in our own lives, etc.) through ourĀ imaginationsĀ so that we may have a stronger relationship with Him and follow His will in all that we do. As we go back to a prayer, we may find that there was something that really caught our attention and that we want to go back to. Going back to the prayer allows us to focus on these details that God was presenting to us in prayer, and appreciate the grace of the prayer more fully. With this, we may better understand how to integrate the grace into the whole of our lives.

So, over the weekend, we invite you to go back to a post that you found particularly helpful or moving in prayer, and to go back to that prayer, asking the Lord to continue to teach you the grace as a schoolmaster teaches a lesson to a child.

March 12th, 2011