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Luke 5:1-11: A Guided Ignatian Contemplation



Praying with your imagination is a great way to let God speak to you. As you pray, pay attention to your feelings and emotions, such as fear, happiness, joy, hope, peace, faith, love. Read through it, and use the steps as you try this prayer the first time. If you feel like changing something, or doing it your own way that feels better, go for it. Don’t worry about “doing it right.” Follow whatever leads you closer to God, and to his healing, mercy, love, faith, and hope.


Today, we invite you to pray with the Gospel of Luke through an Ignatian contemplation. In chapter 5 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus calls his first disciples to follow him, including Simon Peter the fisherman. Jesus asks Peter to drop his fishing nets for a catch; Peter, having had no success that day, reluctantly agrees. When the nets are filled with fish, Peter is frightened and begs Jesus to go away from him. Rather than leaving, Jesus calls Peter to follow him.


This story is a great passage with which to perform an Ignatian contemplation: the scene is rich in details, Peter’s reluctance, fear, and sense of sin come up against the love and compassion of Jesus, and we can see what it was like to encounter Jesus for the first time. It also can allow us to experience for ourselves the call from Jesus as well as the reluctance of Peter.


1. Settle into whatever position you intend to pray, whether that is sitting in a comfortable chair, kneeling, lying down, or walking. Then, take a moment to relax, paying careful attention to your breathing and posture.


2. Begin your prayer by asking God for the grace that you seek: search your heart and speak to God about what you want most.


3. Then, read through Luke 5:1-11 once, paying close attention to the details. Once you have read through the passage, immerse yourself fully into the story, as if you were really there:


  1. The call of Peter takes place on the shores of the sea of Galilee. What do you see around you? How many people are there? What are they doing? What do they look like?

  2. Many stories in the Gospels take place on the shores of the sea of Galilee. What does it feel like to stand there on the shores of the sea? Is it warm or chilly? Is the air still or breezy?

  3. Ignatian contemplations are meant to engage all your sense, including smell and even taste. As you stand by the shore, what scents fill your nose?

  4. Lastly, we are meant to hear the word of God in an Ignatian contemplation. As the scene unfolds before you, what do you hear? What are people talking about?


4. Read the passage one more time. Put yourself completely in the scene. Who are you? Are you on the boat with Peter? Are you watching the action from the shore? Don’t worry about trying to do the “right thing”, just let yourself imagine.


5. Now, see Jesus. What is he saying? Is he talking to other people? What do you feel when you see Jesus? Are you excited? Nervous? Do you want Him to talk to you? What is He like with other people? Pay attention to your feelings in your heart.


6. You see Peter lower his nets. How does Peter seem to you? What kind of person does he look like to you? What is his body language communicating to Jesus and everyone else as the nets dip under the waters? How do you react when the nets get pulled up bursting with fish? Pay attention to your feelings in your heart.


7. Peter turns to Jesus as the fish get hauled into the boat. What does he say to Jesus? What does Jesus say to Peter? How does Peter respond to Jesus? Pay attention to your feelings in your heart.


8. Then, Jesus turns to you and starts speaking with you. Imagine His compassion. What does Jesus say to you? What do you want to say to him? Again, what do you feel in your heart?


9. Finally, take some time to talk to Jesus. Tell Him what you want, what you are grateful for, how you are feeling. And let Him speak to you in your imagination.


10. End with a short prayer, and thank God for His gifts.


Questions to Consider when you finish your prayer:


  1. What moment stood out to me most as I contemplated the scene?

  2. What did I feel during my prayer?

  3. What did God say to you? What did you say to God?

  4. What do I take away from this experience of prayer?

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