Discovering the delight with which God beholds me.
That I may see and know more clearly the deeply personal and faithful care and love of God for me.
Prayer Material for the Week
1. Isaiah 43: 1-7 You are precious in my eyes.
2. Romans 8: 31-39 With God on our side who can be against us?
3. Prayer of Consideration: Lilies of the Field
4. Luke 15:1-32 Three parables about Gods merciful love.
5. Isaiah 65: 17-25 Gods dream of making us new.
6. Prayer of Consideration: The Way Things Are
7. Luke 15: 11-32 The Prodigals Father wants to love both of his children.
Oh, Lord my God, You called me from the sleep of nothingness merely because in Your tremendous love You want to make good and beautiful beings. You have called me by my name in my mothers womb. You have given me breath and light and movement and walked with me every moment of my existence. I am amazed, Lord God of the universe, that You attend to me and, more, cherish me. Create in me the faithfulness that moves You, so that I will trust You and yearn for You all my days.
God our Creator and Lord writes Gods hopes into our desiring. If our hearts are made for God, then God has planted deep, deep desires for God in our hearts. If Gods command is that we love one another and do justice to all, then deep in ourselves burns a passionate desire to do those things, and filling those desires will make us beatifically happy. Because of this, we keep asking God for what we want in prayer and in these exercises.
Isaiah 62: 1-5 You will be call by a new name your God will rejoice in you
Jeremiah 18: 1-6 God is the potter; we are the clay.
Isaiah 49: 8-16 God of mercy. Should a mother forget her infant, I will never
Romans 5: 6-11
he would fail us now?
How am I experiencing God these days?
I am accepted by God
God loves me as I am
Gods presence is gift rather than threat
God begins anew all things at each moment
I yearn to know the real God
I am now finishing two weeks of the Exercises that I wanted to go through. I might want to begin examining whether or not I am doing what I set out to do.
Prayer begins with the realization that I am loved by God as I am. Gods love is based on nothing and, therefore, is the most basic and secure fact in my life. I simply let myself be loved by God. This is not so much an activity of mine but a passivity in which I let Gods love soak in and permeate my whole being.
Adapted from As Bread That is Broken by Peter van Breemen, S.J.
Through Jesus, God is present to us always (Mt 28:20). God reveals Gods self as one who cares and is concerned about us (Jn 20:11-18; Jn 21:9-14). The quality of this presence is gentleness and patience. Ignatius suggests that every time we begin a prayer exercise, we should pause for a few moments as we recollect ourselves and consider how God beholds me. We go to prayer with an attitude of listening. In prayer we let Gods word speak of Gods own nearness and care; we let the Spirit give us that deeper trust and confidence that we need.
adapted from John Veltri, S.J., Orientations
1. If you know how to pray with fantasy, you might do that. Imagine, for instance, that you are a lump of clay and God is shaping you and then tell Him what you actually experience and feel.
2. When you repeat a passage, give more time to the ideas, desires, feelings that were particularly strong and good, and to those that seem to have been particularly problematic or obscure or vexing. Go back to those places where you felt discouragement, revulsion, anger, or simply nothing at all places like the black holes in our universe from which no light or warmth comes. Go back also to those places where you felt great encouragement, love for God, and enthusiasm to go on places like the volcanoes on our globe that throw up blazing rivers and that roar with energy. You will visit many of these black holes and volcanoes during the Ignatian Exercises.
3. Note about prayerful reading that you read slowly, stop and muse over words or phrases, readily begin speaking with God the Lord, and feel no pressure to finish the passage.
Adapted from Joseph Tetlow, S.J., Choosing
When we come to prayer, we need to collect our scattered thoughts and affects so that we come to God with a single heart. Writers give this process various names. Some talk about coming to quiet, or reaching a sense of harmony with all beings. Some talk about reaching self-concentration, so that my thoughts and desires are not running all over, but come to coherence and rest. Many talk about "centering," meaning that we can come to the core of our self for a moment and desire and act out of that center.
Whatever name you use, recognize that some quiet and concentration help very much as we begin our prayer time.
Here are some ways of accomplishing that "centering" that you might find useful. You might already have your way of doing it. If not, test various ways until you are able to pray a little more readily.
Stand or sit (or take some other position that you come to find helpful). Concentrate for just a moment on yourself standing, or sitting, or in whatever position. Attend to each part of your body: to the tiny feelings on your scalp and face, to the pressure of clothing on your neck; to the position of your arms and
hands; to the pressures of chair or floor on back, stomach, rump; to the feelings on thighs, knees, calves; to the pressure of the floor on heel or sole. Then just sense yourself in this total position, and go on to ask God to let you feel your presence to your Creator and Lord.
Take a quiet position. Slowly and gently concentrate your attention on your breathing, focusing down onto the air moving in and out of your nostrils. Keep focused on that moving air for a while until you are quiet.
Breathing that way, you might begin to think some words as you breathe. So, think "Lord Jesus
Take a quiet position. Gradually grow aware of what you are hearing. Listen to each sound, trying to distinguish single sounds from the general noise. Simply hear the sounds, without trying to figure out where they are coming from or to interpret them. Consciously let the sounds continue on their own, aware of the fact that they do not attack you or violate you or depend on you. As you let them go on entirely on their own, grow aware that you are present to your Creator and Lord.
As you can grow aware of the sounds you are hearing, so you can also grow aware of the sights you are seeing, and even of the odors and fragrances you smell.
Instead of becoming quite still, you might come to concentration by gentle gesture or movement. For instance, you could think some prayerful thoughtsLord, You are God; I come to You; I give these moments to You alone; You hold me utterly"and as you think them, you could gesture or dance them out. Slowly raise your hand, slowly bow from the waist, slowly hold up your hands together as though they were filled with gifts. After a time of this, you will know to grow still and turn to the matters you have decided to pray upon.
Others use other means. Light a candle for its fragrance and presence. Gaze at a small object before you, such as a little stone, carefully seeing everything about it, until you can feel the fact that God our Creator and Lord keeps making you and the stone. Play some quiet music. Burn incense. Note these general rules: We each find a way to concentrate. We commonly find one or other way more useful at one time than at others. We sometimes feel more dissipated than usual and need to use some means of centering that we would not ordinarily use. Centering proves useful, but is not an end in itself, and on occasion it expresses or leads to a kind
of self-absorption that makes praying a little more difficult. Centering at the start of prayer ordinarily makes praying more feasible.
Joseph Tetlow, S.J., Choosing
This simple exercise depends on notes, memory, and lively thinking.
Here are some likenesses: Two friends have been going over the picture album of a two-week vacation together when they ask each other how many different places they had seen. They flip back through the pictures swiftly, recalling this town and that mountain, noting where they stopped. A summary of former prayer is like that.
Another likeness: The chairperson of a little volunteer organization wonders, while preparing for the next meeting, how many different projects the group has volunteered for during the past six months and what worked and what didn't. The leader quickly flips through notes and minutes, counting and appreciating and valuing, and then prepares what to say to the members. A summary of former prayer is like that.
A summary is also like a repetition. It differs, though, because the summary takes you back over more than just the black holes and volcanoes. In doing a summary, you peruse whatever has come up in your prayer.
So I prepare the material well before my time for prayer. I look back over all that I
have prayed over during a specified period. I single out intense experiences, sharper convictions, images, and ideas. I note both positive and negative elements.
When I come to pray, I do not spend too long on any single point. I try to figure out
what I have gotten at during this period, perhaps seeing more simply and more clearly by moving over all of the matter. From this somewhat determined move through the
fruits of earlier prayer, I find things to take to colloquy and petition. So when I am ready (and as soon as I am ready), I make the Triple Colloquy. ♦