Ignatian Retreat in Daily Life

"FInding God in all Things"

Heaven at Hand

                                                        (Printable version in Word)

Theme

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

 

Preparing for the period of prayer

 

1.                  I consciously bring myself into the presence and loving gaze of God. I keep in mind that God looks upon me with longing, and I ask for God’s blessing on my efforts at this prayer.

 

2.And now I ask of God what I yearn for, the grace/desire for today: That God will continue to reveal to me the mystery of sin in my life and move me to sorrow for that sin so that I seek more and more to surrender into the forgiving and renewing love of God.

 

3.  I address this prayer of desire, first to God the Father, then to Mary, the mother of Jesus, then to Jesus, himself. Or,

 

4.  I address this prayer of desire, first to God the Source of Life, then to God the Source of Wisdom and Goodness, then to God Creator and Comforter.

 

5.  Continue below.

 

 

During This Period of Prayer

 

I read slowly, the material below, asking God to help me notice, with God’s eyes, the movements that stir within me. And I talk with God about what I notice.

 

 

Imagine you have a radio that no matter how you turn the knob picks up only one station.  You have no control over the volume.  At times the sound is barely audible, at others, it is so loud that it almost shatters your eardrums.  Moreover it is impossible to turn it off; at times it will be slow; it will suddenly begin to blare away when you want to rest and sleep.  Who would put up with this kind of performance in a radio?  And yet when your heart behaves in this kind of crazy fashion you not only put up with it but even call it a normal and human.

 

Think of the numerous times you were tossed about by her emotions, that you have suffered the pangs of anger, depression, anxiety, when in every instance it was because your heart became set on getting something that you did not have, or on holding on to something that you had, or on avoiding something that you did not want.  You are in love and you felt rejected or jealous; suddenly all your mind and heart became focused on this one thing, and the banquet of life turned to ashes in your mouth.  You are bent on winning an election and in the din of battle it was impossible to hear the songs of the birds: your ambition drowned out every other sound.  You were faced with the possibility of a serious illness or the loss of a loved one and you found it impossible to concentrate on anything.

  

To put it briefly, the moment you pick up an attachment, the functioning of this lovely apparatus called the human heart is destroyed.  If you want to repair your radio, you must study radio mechanics. 

If you want to reform your heart, you must get serious, prolonged thought to four liberating truths.  But first choose some attachment that troubles you, something that you are clinging to, or something that you dread, or something you're craving for, and keep this attachment in mind as you listen to these truths.

 

The first truth: you must choose between your attachment and happiness.  You cannot have both.  The moment you pick up an attachment, your heart is thrown out of kilter and your ability to lead a joyful carefree serene life is destroyed.  See how true this is an applied to the attachment that you have chosen.

 

The second truth: where did your attachment come from?  You are not born with it.  It sprang from alive mature society and your culture have told you, or a lie that you told yourself, namely, that without this or the other, without this person or the other, you can't be happy.  Just open your eyes and see how false this is.  There are hundreds of persons who are perfectly happy without this thing or person or situation that you crave for and which you have convinced yourself you cannot live without.  So make your choice: do you want your attachment, or your freedom and happiness?

 

The third truth: if you wish to be fully alive you must develop a sense of perspective.  Life is infinitely greater than this trifle your heart is attached to and which you have given the power to so upset you.  Trifle, yes, because if you live long enough that day will easily come  when it will cease to matter.  It will not even be remembered -- your own experience will confirm this.  Just as today you barely remember, are no longer the least bit affected by those tremendous trifles that so disturbed you in the past.

 

And so the fourth truth brings you to the unavoidable conclusion that no thing or person outside of you has the power to make you happy or unhappy.  Whether you are aware of it or not it is you and only you who decides to be happy or unhappy, whether you will cling to your attachments or not in any given situation.

 

As you ponder these truths you may become aware that your heart is resisting them or argues against them and refuses to look at them.  That is a sign that you have not yet suffered enough at the hand of your attachments to really want to do something about your spiritual radio.  Or your heart may place no resistance to these truths; if that is so, rejoice.  Repentance, the refashioning of the heart has begun and the kingdom of God -- the gratefully carefree life of children -- has come within your grasp at last and you are about to reach out and take possession of it.

 

 

Concluding this Prayer

 

Then I converse with Jesus on His cross, letting these three questions rise within me:

What have I done for Christ?    

What am I doing for Christ?    

What ought I do for Christ?  

End with the Lord’s Prayer.

                                                                                       (Printable version in Word)