Our Eight-Month Journey with Jesus using St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.
The “Second Week.” An Overview. Week 11 through Week 22.
Theme: Accompanying Jesus Christ on Mission.
In the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius invites us to accompany Jesus Christ from His birth through His public ministry. In the First Week, our gaze was much on ourselves; now God lifts our gaze and turns our attention to Jesus as He walked and talked, healed and preached, among us. The grace of the Second Week is fundamental: to grow in a heartfelt knowledge of Jesus Christ so that we can love Him more deeply and follow Him more closely. But to grow in this intimate love, we need to get close. We need to walk with God, who became one with us.
In this part of the adventure, the Gospels come alive for us. We are there with Jesus, immersed in the Gospels with the help of our senses and imagination. We do not simply obtain more insight or information. With our attentiveness fine-tuned and our imaginations sparked, we see the living God in daily life as we pray through the Exercises. Kevin O’Brien. The Ignatian Adventure-page 124-125.
We now enter what Ignatius calls the “Second Week” of our Ignatian Prayer Adventure. In the following 36 blog sessions (click on the links below), we walk alongside Jesus of Nazareth as He fulfills the destiny given to Him by His Father. From His humble birth and baptism through His journeys across the land of Israel, join us as we walk with purpose alongside the Master, learning from Him just His early disciples did.
As we blog along the way, we suggest that you bookmark both our master page and these unit pages, as they will help you keep an index of our readings and be a place to bring all of it together for easy referencing.
Each one of our blog studies can serve you well as a support piece in your devotional life with Jesus. As you’ll see when you open up one of our pages, each blog begins with a short scripture or reading, some thoughts to consider, and then concludes with a prayer and a question or two for you to ponder. Go slow. Walk at your own pace, inviting the Holy Spirit to join with you as you read and reflect.
Our “Week II” Studies. (click on the links below to review each blog entry)
11. The Contemplation on the Incarnation.
12. The Birth of Jesus.
13. The Childhood of Jesus.
14. The Hidden Life of Jesus.
15. The Call of Christ, Our King.
16. Jesus’ Public Ministry Begins.
17. Meditation on Two Standards.
18. The Call and Cost of Discipleship.
19. Three Ways of Loving.
20. Jesus’ Public Ministry
21. The Kingdom of God.
21.2 God’s Kingdom Come.
22. Jesus as Human and Divine.
22.1 Stop. Look. Listen.
Continuing with O’Brien’s commentary on the “Second Week”…
“At this point in the retreat, pray-ers have likely developed a habit or certain style of praying. We naturally fall into a rhythm that will carry us forward on the wings of grace. Sometimes, however, we can become sloppy after being in the retreat for many weeks. Structure is important to the Exercises. Although we cannot force God’s hand or make grace happen, we can dispose ourselves to grace by following Ignatius’s spiritual framework.”
As we continue our journey, let’s recall the suggestions for prayer offered at the beginning our trek. (see Days of Preparation: An Overview)
Before Our Devotional Time.
Maintain an environment conducive to prayer, free of distractions. Pay attention to your breathing (try some slow breath prayers) and your posture as you begin. Offer your time of prayer and study to God. Pray to be open to the indwelling work of the Spirit as you pray and study. Use whatever words, images, or rituals are natural for you to compose yourself.
During Your Devotional Time.
Pray for the grace you desire, either as suggested in our prayer materials or in your own words. What do you want God to do for you? How do you want God to be present to you?
As you use our materials, remember that nothing you read is meant as homework or tasks to check off a list. Be flexible and adapt your time to where you are. Do not run ahead of the weeks of the retreat. Follow the lead of the Spirit, not a timetable. If you feel like you are working too hard, you probably are. Avoid trying to problem solve or to be “productive” in your prayer.
Try to utilize a colloquy in your prayer periods: the more natural and conversational it is, the better. Finally, try to keep your devotional time to about thirty to forty-five minutes per session. Don’t significantly increase or decrease this sacred time.
After Your Devotional Time.
Reflect on your time; if possible, doing this in a place different from where you prayed. Pay attention to consolations (interior movements in your mind that bring you closer to God), desolations (interior movements in your mind that draw you away from God), and other significant feelings or emotions you might be experiencing. In your journal, note these movements, along with important images, words, memories, or moods. Note any connections from your prayer to your daily life.
Pray the Examin (see The First Week: An Overview) at some point in your day. This prayer is key to developing a habit of discernment.
Maintain the spirit of generosity with which you began the retreat:
The persons who make the Exercises will benefit greatly by entering upon them with great spirit and generosity toward their Creator and Lord, and by offering all their desires and freedom to Him so that His Divine Majesty can make use of their persons and of all they possess in whatsoever way is in accord with His most holy will. (Ignatius SE 5)
Our suggestion…don’t journey through the Spiritual Exercises alone! One of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of the Ignatian Exercises is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with the Exercises and knows how to make the journey part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are trained in helping others walk through the Exercises and are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.