Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) founded the Society of Jesus (commonly called –the Jesuits- Pope Francis is one). The youngest of eleven children, Ignatius left his home in the Basque region of Spain to become a page for a noblemen. His life of brawling, gambling, and womanizing was disrupted when the nobleman lost his position. He then joined the army and was badly wounded when he was hit in the leg by a cannonball. During his one year recuperation as a prisoner of France henturned to God. His Spiritual Exercises for a 30-day retreat were modeled after his own conversion experience and are considered a classic of Western spirituality. Ignatian Meditation is a part of the system Ignatius described in his Spiritual Exercises.
Ignatian meditation is counter-intuitive to our culture. Parents and grandparents who have watched their children and grandchildren “play like” have the easiest time with this prayer. Mine have played at being Harry Potter, SpongeBob and Dora. Ignatian Meditation asks that you enter into the story of scripture, and become a part of it. This form of meditation engages the imagination and asks you to become a child again.
The instructions are sometimes presented in quite a complex way, these can help you begin.
Points for Ignatian Meditation
- Find a quiet place to pray. This may be in your room, a church, outdoors, or your office with the door closed.
- Establish a sense of inner peace and tranquility. Let the cares and concerns of the moment slip away. Sometimes reciting the Lord’s Prayer, Psalm 23 or a favorite prayer from memory will help get into the prayer.
- As you relax into God’s presence, take a moment to greet the Lord. Ask God to guide your thoughts.
- Slowly read the passage. Get a sense of its geography and flow. Is there something that stands out to you?
- Read it again, using a different Bible translation. Is there something in particular that is touching you?
- Place yourself in the story. Are you a main character? A spectator? Think about the following:
- What are you wearing?
- What are the sights? Smells? Textures? Sounds?
- What is going on around you?
- Who else is there? Do you recognize those around you?
- Surrender to the story. Interact with your surroundings, allow yourself to be guided by the Spirit as you speak and engage with others.
- Do not try to control the prayer. Let the Holy Spirit guide you.
- How are you feeling? Is your “heart on fire?”
- As you bring your prayer to a close, take a few minutes to speak to God about it.
- Ignatian Spirituality (noahsprojectblog.wordpress.com)