Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous,
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.
St. Ignatius of Loyola
English: Ignatius of Loyola
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)
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various worldly pleasures, often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals. Many religious traditions (Buddhism, the Christian Desert Fathers) include practices that involve restraint with respect to actions of body, speech, and mind. The founders and earliest practitioners of these religions lived extremely austere lifestyles, refraining from sensual pleasures and the accumulation of material wealth. They practiced asceticism not as a rejection of the enjoyment of life, or because the practices themselves are virtuous, but as an aid in the pursuit of physical and spiritual health.
From these ascetics much of our prayer and contemplative practices were given to us. In these day of stress and multiple pressure of life we can learn much from them. One of these ascetics was medieval mystic Ignatius of Loyola. Today I present a very simple practice known as the Daily Examen. The Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern his direction for us. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience. Here’s how it works.
At the close of each day find a quiet place, and perform these tasks.
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
I believe that these simple steps can change your perception of God and yourself.