Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises take us through a process towards spiritual freedom and renewal into a wholehearted commitment to becoming a friend and disciple of Jesus. We learn to see our life and our purpose in the world within the perspective of God’s unshakable and immeasurable love for us. We exist in relationship with everything that God has created to help us become our truest, God-given self.
- We begin our prayer by becoming aware of creation all around us and ourselves within it. As you breathe in and out, become aware of the gift of life all around you.
- Jesus longs for us to see him and come close to him, if only we will be open to this. A desire to come close to Jesus is a sign of grace already at work within us. Is there some grace or gift you wish for right now? Name your desire to God, not because God doesn’t know it already, but so that you can recognize the gift God is offering you.
- Ignatius encourages us to enter more deeply into the meaning of Scripture through our feelings, getting in touch with deep desires through imaginative immersion in a gospel scene. We can also use our bodily senses to enter into direct, transforming encounters with Jesus in which we can speak, ask and love directly. We become familiar with “what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands’ (1 John1.1).
- We come to know Jesus, learning to see the world and react to it as he does. We are brought face to face with new ways to “see him more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly”.
- Ignatius also encourages us to take note of the directions in which our thoughts and feelings travel, noting the interior movements of our hearts, and following where they are leading us. We listen now to the word of Scripture.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
- Another way to become aware of God’s presence is to ask for the gift to see our life from God’s point of view. God’s merciful eyes and understanding may give us a very different perspective on our lived reality. Some things that seem of huge importance to us may be cut down to size, while others we gloss over may assume their correct proportions.
- As you listened to the psalm, how did you react to this God who searches you and knows you through and through, and loves every aspect of who you are?
- Nothing can separate us from the love of our Creator. No darkness in us is dark to God. How do you feel when you hear this?
- Ignatius tells us that gratitude is at the heart of a sense of being in God’s presence. Can you thank God for your existence?
- Perhaps there are things in your life that make you hesitant to come under God’s loving gaze, or things that make it feel difficult to experience gratitude.
- Whether positive or negative, share your thoughts and feelings with your loving Creator, naming whatever emerges for which you want to pray, repent or thank God.