Our Eight-Month Journey with Jesus using St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.
Days of Preparation. An Overview. Week 1 through Week 6.
Theme: Encountering the Unconditional, Creative, Inviting Love of God.
Just as marathon runners do not begin a race with a sprint, we start the Exercises slowly and gently. We till the soil a bit before doing any planting. In the first days of the full Exercises, we consider the gift of God’s ongoing creation in the world and in us. We pray for a spirit of awe and gratitude for the gifts of God in our lives. We hope to experience a deeply felt sense of God’s unconditional love for us. Kevin O’Brien. The Ignatian Adventure-page 15.
We are now at the true starting point of our Ignatian Adventure. In the following 18 blog sessions (click on the links below), you and I are asked to slow our busy lives down a bit and prepare ourselves for the long road ahead.
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 Days of Preparation Sessions. (click on the links below to review each blog entry)
1. God’s Unconditional Love for Me.
1.3 Waiting With ???
2. God’s Ongoing Creation.
2.2 Who Am I…Really?
3. The Intimacy of Prayer.
3.1 My Lord’s Prayer
4. God’s Invitation to Greater Freedom.
5. The Principle and Foundation.
6. God’s Call to Me.
Practical Housekeeping Advice for this part of The Ignatian Adventure.
We suggest allowing yourself thirty to forty-five minutes per day (at least three times per week) in a private, personal place of prayer. You will need an extended period of time to engage the prayer material and savor the graces offered. If you are not in the habit of praying that long in one sitting, then slowly build up to that time throughout the first few weeks of our journey together.
We suggest that you find a regular prayer space: a quiet room in your home with a comfortable chair, a place where you can read and write with ease. If that’s not possible, try a church or chapel, or even a secluded place outdoors, if weather permits.
As you begin your time with God, we suggest the following steps:
Compose Yourself. Get comfortable. Relax. Allow the tension you might feel to fall away. Take a few deep breaths, using what we call a breath prayer. Relaxed, simply breathe in deeply, reciting in your mind and heart one of your favorite scriptures, the Lord’s prayer, or a spiritual poem or song of significance to you. Breath out, releasing your tension, worry, anxiety and sinfulness. You’ll be surprised at how relaxing and refreshing these breath prayers can be as you prepare for your time with God.
Pray for Grace. Invite the presence of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit to draw near you as you spend this time alone. Know that you are not alone. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us…and you can fully expect the presence and peace of God to be with you as you give this time to Him.
Read the Scripture Reading assigned for the day. Read slowly and deliberately. This is not a race, nor is it to obtain knowledge for which a test will be given later! This is your time to read and reflect with the Holy Spirit reading along with you. You might even say the words slowly out loud to yourself as you read.
Read the commentary, prayer & questions that we’ve blogged in response to the scripture for the day. This may be helpful in stirring some thoughts on how God might want you to apply the scripture to your life today. Keep in mind, however, that the Spirit may be taking you down a different path than the one I’m taking. As one of my spiritual directors once told me, “Look, Marty, look for what shimmers in the water.” In other words, follow the soft whispers of God as you read the passage for the day. Watch carefully for where the water is “shimmering”. Be in touch with your emotions as well. Often , I find myself choking up or tearing up whenever the Lord is identifying a phrase or sentence that He wants me to dwell on. Follow those promptings. Just like a fisherman looking to catch his dinner, where there is a shimmer or a ripple, there’s many times a fish underneath the water waiting to be caught!
Reflect on all that you’ve read. Keeping a journal here will be vitally important you as you go. Don’t worry about writing full sentences, correct grammar, etc. This journal is for you and no one else. You might even want to draw or sketch out pictures in your journal as well as write. Be creative. This is your response to what you’ve been reading and sensing from God during your time thus far. By the end of our journey, this journal will be a true treasure chest of God-experiences for you to keep.
Close your time with silence and a short prayer of thanksgiving. Let the quiet be as long as you can. Be still and listen carefully to the quietness. Soak in its presence. Receive God’s touch, rest in the Truth you’ve heard thus far, receive His shalom (peace), His goodness and mercy as you conclude your time with a final prayer of thanksgiving.
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.