The first step in an Ignatian retreat is to embrace the goodness within creation, within ourselves and others. We begin with the usual invitation to be still.
- Listen to all the noises you can hear. Now focus on the sounds immediately around you and within you: your own breathing, the beat of your heart, your footsteps if you are walking.
- Allow yourself to relax and reach inner stillness, coming back to it again without stress if you get distracted.
We listen now to an extract from Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises
Extract from the Spiritual Exercises
“The goal of our life is to live with God forever […]
All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily […] We appreciate and use all the gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the centre of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal […]
Everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God. Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening his life in me”.
- We are invited to encounter a God who says yes to everything that is truly us and who in turn invites us to say yes to ourselves, to the world and to all the goodness of creation.
- What aspects of God’s creation feels like a particular gift to you? Try to see them, touch and hear and taste and feel them in your imagination. Stay with them for a while in grateful enjoyment.
- How we are in our bodies and in our human reality matters. It is through our bodily encounters with creation that we encounter our loving Creator, present within it. Idolatry is not just about primitive people bowing to heathen deities. It’s the state of mind we get into when we put anything other than God into where God properly belongs.
- Are you conscious of anything that has displaced God as the centre of your life?
- Ignatius invites us to grow in freedom, not making an absolute of any one path to God. We ask God to help us grow in good desires and let go of any false idols on which we may have centred our lives.
- Can you find words, or perhaps a poem or song which expresses your gratitude for the gift of creation?
- What does ‘choosing life’ mean for you? Talk to God about your deepest hopes and desires for your life and for the world.
- As you end this time of prayer perhaps you are conscious of a desire for greater inner freedom. Or perhaps you are grieved for the damage being done to creation, or for someone you love who is in need. Speak to God about it as one friend to another.