Beginning an Ignatian Prayer Period
St. Ignatius offers us a framework as we venture off into entering into Mysteries in a personal encounter and discovery of the Word of God. Before we begin your prayer period, we are to briefly sum up the spiritual exercise we will be praying through by reading the selected scripture (SE 73.1)* for example the night before or morning of.
1. Preparing Our Hearts
The Preparatory Prayers and request for Grace
The Preparatory is a time for recollection to dispose of ourselves rightly in reverence and humility, and with an offertory, petitionary for direction and grace what ‘we want and desire’ from the Lord. Each preparatory prayer lasts about a minute.
We begin standing in silence, reflecting this reality of the gaze of God lovingly looking down upon you; you respond.
“I will stand for the space of an Our Father, a step or two before the place where I am to meditate or contemplate, and with my mind raised on high, consider that God our Lord beholds me, etc. Then I will make an act of reverence or humility.” (SE 75)*.
Beginning your prayer time: At the beginning of each prayer period, offer yourself to the Lord. Pray the “Take and Receive”
Take Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,
all that I have and possess.
Thou hast given all to me.
To Thee, O Lord, I return it.
All is Thine; dispose of it wholly according to Thy will.Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this, is sufficient for me. Amen
“The preparatory prayer is to ask, God Our Lord for the grace is that all my intentions ( wants and desires) , actions, and operations (Interior mental activities) , maybe order purely to the service in praise of the Divine Majesty” (SE 46).*
2. Situating ourselves in the Mystery
First Prelude Based upon the particular scripture St. Ignatius gives us two examples here. Based upon the particular scripture, St. Ignatius gives us two examples here. We are encouraged to 'see' the various persons involved, then to 'hear' them, and then to consider what they are 'doing.' We are to read the scripture to situate ourselves before the recollection part of the prayer period.
"Then we are invited to imagine the scene with our 'mind,' Here the Holy Spirit makes the scene present for us, so as later we will be able to grasp the content with our 'reason' in embracing it with our 'will' and the 'affections' understood so as to appropriate it and build it into our own life" (pg. 38 by Balthasar; An Anthology by Servais).
Using our Imagination
St. Ignatius writes: "This is a mental representation of the place. Attention must be called to the following point.
When the contemplation or meditation is on something visible, for example, when we contemplate Christ our Lord, the representation will consist in seeing in imagination the material place where the object is that we wish to contemplate. I said the material place, for example, the temple, or the mountain where Jesus or His Mother is, according to the subject matter of the contemplation."
"In a case where the subject matter is not visible... the representation will be to see in imagination my soul as a prisoner in this corruptible body and to consider my whole composite being as an exile here on earth, cast out to live among brute beasts. I said my whole composite being, body, and soul."(SE47)*
3. Asking for the Grace
The Second Prelude Now being situated within the mystery we ask for what we desire from the Holy Spirit to reveal to us how we may go forth to meet the will of God.
St. Ignatius writes: "I will ask God our Lord for what I want and desire. The petition made in this prelude must be according to the subject matter. Thus in a contemplation on the Resurrection, I will ask for joy with Christ in joy. In one on the passion, I will ask for sorrow, tears, and anguish with Christ in anguish."(SE48)*
Here we share our desires and petition for graces.
4. Then we proceed to the Mediation Exercise
During the prayer we allow ourselves to be taken up with what Christ is doing. It is there where we allow the passive action of letting God's human image shape us.
Wisdom From St. Ignatius
St. Ignatius advises that we pray for a certain Grace with each prayer period; he offers suggestions based on the particular exercise.
When we name what grace we desire from God, we become open to receiving the gifts that God wants to give us, and more aware of when we receive them.
When the grace that St. Ignatius suggests is difficult to request, he suggests that we ask God to help us to desire it.
*(SE#) All quotes are taken from The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: based on Studies in the Language of the Autograph by Louis, J. Puhl. SJ
Our Lady of the Way, Pray for us!
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