The Coronavirus Pandemic has disrupted all of our lives in both large and small ways. Disruption is oven painful, but it can also be a time of reconsideration and reflection about our lives...
Isaiah 43:1-7 "Do not fear..."
Isaiah 54 "My love shall never fall away"
Isaiah 55 "All you who are thirsty, come"
Psalm 139:1-18 "You formed my inmost being"
Psalm 23 "The Lord is my shepherd"
Luke 12:22-34 "Do not worry"
John 15:1-17 "Remain in my love"
1 John 4:7-21 "not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us and sent his Son."
OTHER PRAYER RESOURCES
Here you can find guides to pray the Examen, the Principle and Foundation, as well as other helpful articles and content to inspire your prayer for the week.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has disrupted all of our lives in both large and small ways. Disruption is often painful, but it can also be a time of reconsideration and reflection about our lives.
Lucky for us, St. Ignatius was no stranger to disruption. As a young man, during a fierce battle, a cannonball struck his leg, which put him in bed for several months. Ignatius’ prayer and reflection during this time of disruption eventually kick-started his journey to a more intimate relationship with God, and a life dedicated to loving service to others in companionship with Jesus. So perhaps this time of disruption, despite all of the hardship it brings, can also be a time of retreat and prayer, where we turn to God and listen for God’s voice calling us.
During this retreat, I invite you to trust that God will be with you and work in your heart as he did for Ignatius, and for so many others who have continued to open their lives to God. This week in particular, I draw you attention to two practices Ignatius suggested to people at the beginning of a retreat.
The first is the Examen. The point of the Examen is not to remember every single moment of the day, but rather, to prayerfully listen for how God is speaking to you throughout your day, and how you have responded. There are five key steps in the Examen, which can (and should) be altered based on each person’s experience:
Give thanks to God
Ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit
Review your day prayerfully (and be easy on yourself!)
Focus on key movements within you that arise, and turn to God. Speak to God about how you feel, what you need, if you are sorry, if you are grateful, etc.
Look forward to how God is calling you forward to the next day, week, afternoon, etc.
There are many ways to pray the Examen. You can commit these steps to heart, and practice flowing through them on your own. You can also use an audio guide to lead you through the prayer. There are plenty of web resources you can turn to to help with the prayer. Or, you can simply have a sheet of paper that you follow as you pray. No matter the method, what matters is simply showing up to pray, God will guide you and do the rest. It’s not up to you to make it work!
The second practice is the Principle and Foundation, which offers a prayerful vision of oneself and all created reality in relation to a God who loves and calls us. What is most important - the “foundation” of the Principle and Foundation if you will - is the truth that our relationship with God is one of love; not abstract obligation, not servitude to an ideal, not a demand for perfection, but love.
Our call is to authentically encounter that love, not just intellectually, but sincerely as a whole person. This relationship with God is analogous to a relationship with another person we deeply love. We don’t love people by just thinking about them or because we “should.” We love them because, well, just because. That is the beautiful mystery. And they love us, telling us that they delight simply in who we are. This is the love that transforms us, that causes us to change our lives, to lead us to be willing to sacrifice even our own desires and lives for that other person. That is the love that God has for us, more than we can possibly imagine! And God simply calls us to respond, receiving and giving love in our own hearts.
There are many ways to enter prayer and open our hearts to experience God’s love. Here are a few suggestions.
Praying with Scripture: The Bible is filled with God expressing his love for us. Sit and pray with some of the passages we suggest this week. Trust that they are not just words from a normal book, but words addressed to you. Try out Lectio Divina, or simply read and pray in your own way. Most importantly, listen for God. There is nothing more God wants than to love you and give you all of God’s life.
Praying with memory: Each of us has been loved in some way during our lives. What are the moments in your life where love was the most transformative? Perhaps with a parent, or a friend, or a teacher? Savor these times, learn from them, let them teach you about love. Perhaps journal about your life. God loves us through everything around us, including other people, and it is important to hold these as precious gifts.
Praying with Principle and Foundation passage: Take time to sit with this passage. Perhaps read about Ignatian meditation to consider how you might mull this passage over in your mind. Think over and consider it. Pay attention to your reaction to it. Then bring this to God and listen quietly. You can be totally honest with God, including with your resistances, hesitancy, anger, fear, boredom, whatever. It’s okay, what matters most is that you are honest with God and trust that God can handle wherever you are. God does not want you to try to do this all on your own. God wants to be with you and give you the strength and grace you need and most deeply desire.
Praying with music, poetry, nature, or art: Like the Principle and Foundation says, all of these things can be “helps” in bringing you closer to God. Perhaps there is a song that moves you. Or maybe somewhere outdoors there is a place that inspires your heart to gratitude. We will post some resources also that you can check out.
A few reminders as you move into the week: remember that this retreat does not depend on you figuring it out, or the advice I have given. Simply show up, offer yourself as generously as you can, and God will be there and do the work. Furthermore, in all of these suggestions, use what is helpful and draws you to God. Toss aside what is distracting or unhelpful. The rule is you and God’s personal encounter, not anything I say. And where you find the grace, remain with it. Quality over quantity!
Give yourself the gift of listening to God loving you, without qualifying things or needing to be all fixed up first. Invite God into the mess, wherever you are. You can let go and fall into God’s arms. That’s all God wants. Then comes generosity. Then comes service. Then comes deeper life.
Here you will find a traditional translation of Ignatius' "Principle and Foundation" as well as a contemporary interpretation from a modern day Jesuit.
Here you will find a more detailed look at the Examen prayer, along with videos that can help deepen your understanding of this key Ignatian prayer.
Ignatius recognized that prayer involves our whole selves; mind, body, and spirit. Here you will find some helpful practical tips about entering in to prayer with your full self, along with advice about how to deal with distractions.
Latin for "Divine Reading", Lectio Divina is a method of praying with scripture that has been utilized by Christians for centuries.
Ignatian meditation, as compared to Ignatian contemplation, focuses on using our intellect to wonder and ponder over a certain subject or theme, rather than emphasizing the use of imagination or affective feelings. Both ways of prayer compliment each other.
Ignatian contemplation, as compared to Ignatian meditation, focuses more on using our imagination to place ourselves in biblical scenes or other spiritual contexts, along with paying attention to our affective feelings. Both ways of prayer compliment each other.
Here is an introduction to Ignatius' thought on distinct inner spiritual movements and their effects we experience in prayer, which Ignatius characterizes as "consolation" or "desolation".
Here is a quick guide for how to take a moment of reflection to review a time of prayer you previously engaged in. Ignatius encouraged people to do this.