April 26, 2011 |

Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Lord.

Text for Prayer: Spiritual Exercises no. 230-237

Reflection: 

The retreat, as Ignatius envisioned it, is a time of receiving many graces. Ignatius, though, was not content simply with receiving graces; he wanted us, after receiving generously from the Lord, to make an offering in return.  Ignatius’ ideal was to be a ‘contemplative even in action,’ to allow the knowledge given in prayer to find expression in service.  And so the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises is the Contemplation to Attain the Love of God. One of the graces of the retreat is to allow things we all know about God to sink into our hearts, to become ‘felt’ knowledge.

Before entering into this contemplation, Ignatius calls to our attention two points. First, love ought to manifest itself in deeds more than in words. Second, love consists in a mutual sharing of goods, where the lover shares everything with the beloved, just as every good is shared between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.

With those points in mind, we place ourselves in the presence of God and His angels and His saints, who intercede for us, who have prayed for us throughout the retreat.

Let us then consider four points, making an offering of myself after each one.

First, consider the blessings of creation and redemption, how God has called me into being and how Christ has suffered and died, so I might be reconciled to the Father. When I reflect upon the gifts of creation and then redemption, what sort of offering should I make?  Ignatius gives a model of how we might make an offering, a prayer known as the Suscipe:

Take, Lord, and receive
all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
all that I have and possess.
Thou hast given all to me.  To Thee, O Lord, I return it.
All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to They will.
Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

Second, consider how God dwells in all creatures, in plants and in animals and in humans. Indeed, He makes a temple of me, since I have been created in His image and likeness. When I reflect upon this marvelous honor bestowed upon me, what sort of offering should I make?

Take, Lord, and receive
all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
all that I have and possess.
Thou hast given all to me.  To Thee, O Lord, I return it.
All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to They will.
Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

Third, consider how God is laboring for me in all the creatures on the earth. He is not content simply to set things in motion, but toils for my benefit. He makes trees bear fruit for us, He makes the sun shine upon us, and never ceases to work on my behalf. When I see the Lord laboring without rest for my good,  what sort of offering should I make?

Take, Lord, and receive
all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
all that I have and possess.
Thou hast given all to me.  To Thee, O Lord, I return it.
All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to They will.
Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

Finally, consider how all blessings and gifts come from heaven, like water from a fountain. All the power and justice and goodness and mercy that I possess come from God, who rains them into my soul. When I see all the gifts God has showered upon me, what sort of offering should I make?

Take, Lord, and receive
all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
all that I have and possess.
Thou hast given all to me.  To Thee, O Lord, I return it.
All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to They will.
Give me Thy love and Thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.

The final meditation of the Exercises is a summons to live life with gratitude.  And not a passive gratitude, but a gratitude that yearns to manifest itself in deeds. Ignatius saw ingratitude as the root of every sin. Gratitude, an ongoing recollection of the innumerable blessings the Lord has bestowed, will animate our faith, our hope and our charity.  Be grateful, and you will walk in the light.

April 26th, 2011 | |