The “Fourth Week”: Week Twenty-Nine/Session One.
Theme: The Contemplation of the Love of God.
Our reading for today: St. Ignatius SE 234.
I will call back into my memory the gifts I have received – my creation, redemption, and other gifts particular to myself. I will ponder with deep affection how much God our Lord has done for me, and how much He has given me of what He possesses, and consequently how He, the same Lord, desires to give me even His very self, in accordance with His divine design. Then I will reflect on myself, and consider what I, on my part, ought in all reason and justice to offer and give to the Divine Majesty, namely, all my possessions, and myself along with them. I will speak as one making an offering with deep affection, and say:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, by understanding, and all my will – all that I have and possess. You, Lord, have given all that to me. I now give it back to You, O Lord. All of it is Yours. Dispose of it according to Your will. Give me love of Yourself along with Your grace, for that is enough for me. (St. Ignatius SE 234)
As I see it, God’s agape, His undying, unconditional, and unending love, is not only located at the center of God’s will, it is the actual center, the very core substance of His will. Ignatius believed God’s love is the change agent for the entire universe and if, indeed, we’ve been paying attention to the work of the Spirit as we’ve been journeying along this Ignatian Adventure, we too, are being transformed from the inside out as we bask in that love that flows freely from the heart of God toward His entire creation.
So now, as we reflect upon the depths of that agape love God has for us, it’s only natural for His creation to breathe in that love, rejoice in it, and then, freely return it back to its Creator, offering our very lives as a living icon of that expressed love.
Ignatius believed that first and foremost, “Love ought to manifest itself more by deeds than by words,” and secondly, “Love consists in a mutual communication between the two persons.” (St. Ignatius SE 230, SE 231) Thus his “Take, Lord, and Receive” prayer (our reading for today) communicates well the ‘give and take’ aspect of this love relationship God desires for us here on planet earth. His prayer of loving surrender reminds me of the old hymn (1896), I Surrender All.
Its’ author, Judson Van DeVenter, was born on a farm in Michigan in 1855. An accomplished musician, singer, and composer, Van DeVenter became an art teacher and supervisor of art in the public schools of Sharon, Pennsylvania immediately following his college graduation. But despite his teaching career in art, Van DeVenter was also an active participant in his church, involving himself in evangelistic meetings held in his area. Recognizing his talent for the ministry, Van DeVenter’s friends urged him to give up teaching and become an evangelist, but he wavered for five years between becoming a recognized artist or devoting himself to ministry. Finally, one night after conducting an evangelistic meeting in Ohio, Van DeVenter surrendered his life to Christian service, writing the text of this now famous hymn. Following his decision to surrender his life to the Divine, Van DeVenter traveled throughout the United States, England, and Scotland, doing evangelistic work. Winfield S. Weeden, his associate, singer and composer of the hymn’s melody, traveled with him for many years. Van DeVenter said of the inspiration for his most famous hymn’s text:
For some time, I had struggled between developing my talents in the field of art and going into full-time evangelistic work. At last, the pivotal hour of my life came, and I surrendered all. A new day was ushered into my life. I became an evangelist and discovered down deep in my soul a talent hitherto unknown to me. God had hidden a song in my heart, and touching a tender chord, He caused me to sing.
All to Jesus I surrender; all to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.
All to Jesus I surrender; humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken; take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender; make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit, truly know that Thou art mine.
All to Jesus I surrender; Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power; let Thy blessing fall on me.
All to Jesus I surrender; now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation! Glory, glory, to His Name!
My prayer: With both Ignatius and Judson Van DeVenter, I sing this famous chorus: I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So now, as the overwhelming love of God permeates my soul, what particular gifts, talents, and other blessings in my life do I desire to offer back to Jesus, asking Him to bless for the service of God and others?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.