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. Also, we highly recommend that anyone beginning these exercises does so under the supervision of a trusted spiritual director.
Each post during the retreat will have roughly the same format. It will begin with a grace to ask the Lord for as you begin your time of prayer and reflection. Then, it will provide a text for prayer, either from the Scriptures or the Spiritual Exercises. After this will come the main part of the post, a reflection based on a meditation from the Exercises. Then, questions or a prayer that will help you reflect with greater depth on how the day’s reflection applies to your own relationship with God. Having read the reflection and gone over the questions, you might then want to use the day’s text for further prayer, using your imagination to enter into the scene.
As you read these daily reflections to grow in your relationship with the Lord, you should feel free to use as much or as little as you need, and spend as much or as little time as you have. If you have five minutes to read the reflection of the day, that will be five minutes well spent. If you wish to spend 30 minutes and use the reflection, the questions, and the texts, that too, is fine. Likewise with anything in between, or even more time in prayer if you so desire. The ultimate goal of this blog is to help everyone who reads it to grow in their love and knowledge of the Lord and to better discern His will in their daily lives. We would encourage you to let that goal of growing in the love of God be the one measure that you use to determine how much or how little you make use of the materials provided here and how much or how little time you spend in prayer. Let all things be Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam: for the greater glory of God!
If you are starting the retreat sometime after the beginning of Lent, look at the list of posts first. Once you are caught up, just come back to the blog everyday for the newest posts.
Grace: to be glad and rejoice intensely because of the great joy and the glory of Christ our Lord.
Reflection: Today we begin celebrating the Resurrection of Christ Our Lord. In fact, liturgically the Church considers the entire week that follows, called the Octave of Easter, to be one prolonged Sunday. We ought to ask the Lord that our rejoicing in Him today be deep and full. His victory is final and utterly complete.
St. Ignatius had the sense that the first person to share in the joys of the Resurrection would be the one who had most loved, trusted, and served God in her earthly life – Mary. So St. Ignatius encourages us in the Spiritual Exercises to consider Jesus meeting His Mother on the Resurrection morning.
She had loved her Son to the bitter end – enduring His separation from her while teaching and preaching, His painful walk along the Way of the Cross, and ultimately His Crucifixion and death. She never left Her Son’s side. Could one have given any more than Mary? And even as she lost Her Son, He gave her as Mother to all humanity from the Cross. Her love, trust, and work is ceaseless.
Moreover, Mary is Jesus’ Mother. She, human like us, loved Jesus in the home at Nazareth perfectly. She searched for Him the day He remained in the temple when Mary and Joseph left in the caravan. She lived with Him until He was about thirty years old and began His public ministry. Could we begin to imagine the joy shared between these two who loved one another so trustingly and completely?
Considering well then the amount of love, labor, and persevering trust that Mary showed, as well as the deep affection that abides between Mother and Son, let us sit with the scene of Jesus meeting Mary in His resurrected glory. Let us imagine their faces, their words, their feelings. With them this Easter, let our joy be complete.
Questions: Taking Mary as an example, at moments when the cost is greatest and the need for generosity and trust the most, can I continue to be faithful?
How can I come to trust more deeply that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord, completely victorious over sin and death, and that He will lead, console, and save me?
Speaking to Jesus as a friend, what joy do I want to share with Jesus upon His Resurrection?
April 24th, 2011