Our Eight-Month Journey with Jesus using St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises.
The “First Week.” An Overview. Week 7 through Week 10.
Theme: Experiencing the Boundless Mercy of God.
Having recognized God’s boundless generosity to us, we naturally face our own limited response. We let God reveal to us our sinfulness and need for conversion. We acknowledge how we have misused God’s gift of freedom. With God’s help, we recognize and understand the patterns of sin in our lives. We do so in the context of knowing deep down how much God loves us and wants to free us from everything that gets in the way of loving God, others, and ourselves – that is, from everything that makes us unhappy. We pray for the grace of embracing ourselves as loved sinners. We keep our gaze fixed always on God’s mercy. Kevin O’Brien. The Ignatian Adventure-page 15-16.
We are now well on our way into of our Ignatian Adventure. In the following 12 blog sessions (click on the links below), we ponder on both our sinful and selfish condition and the endless mercies of our loving God.
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 I” Studies. (click on the links below to review each blog entry)
7. The Reality of Sin.
8. My Own History of Sin and Grace.
9. The Causes and Consequences of Sin.
10. God’s Merciful Love for Me.
Practical Housekeeping Advice for this part of The Ignatian Adventure.
Practicing the daily Examen.
St. Ignatius believed that we can find God in all things, at every moment, even in the most ordinary things. To do this, we must take time to reflect on our experience, to look at the data of a day and discern its meaning. Ignatius encourages us to look back over a period of time and pay attention to what is happening in and around us. Then he invites us to look ahead, to what comes next, so that we can act in a way worthy of our vocation as followers of Christ.
A daily practice of praying the Examen helps us discern how God is calling us in small and large ways. As we go into our “First Week” (weeks seven through ten) of our Spiritual Adventure, the use of the daily Examen will be a very helpful tool to use along the way! Father O’Brien, in his book The Ignatian Adventure, breaks down this ancient daily prayer of Examen into five steps, which can be easily done in 10-15 minutes at the end of each day.
Pray for God’s Help. Invite God, the Father, to be with you during this time of Examen. Allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within you, yielding to His direction. Let yourself see your day as Jesus might see it.
Give Thanks for the Gifts of This Day. An attitude of gratitude is the most important step on your spiritual journey. Review your day and name the blessings, from the most significant and obvious to the more common and ordinary. Don’t feel that you must mechanically go through your day hour by hour or make a list of all the day’s gifts. Instead, savor whatever gifts God shows you. With God’s gentle guidance, let the day go through you.
Pray over the Significant Feelings That Surface as You Replay the Day. Here, you are looking for our “interior movements” (as Ignatius called them). Our feelings, emotions, desires, attractions, repulsions, and moods. As you reflect on your day, you may notice some strong feelings arise. They may be pleasing or painful – for example: joy, peace, sadness, anxiety, confusion, hope, compassion, regret, anger, confidence, jealousy, self-doubt, boredom, or excitement. Feelings are neither positive or negative: it is what you do with them that raise moral questions. These movements can tell you about the direction of your life on this specific day.
Pick one or two strong feelings or movements and pray over them. Ask God to help you understand what aroused those feelings and where they led you:
Did they draw you closer to God? Did they help you grow in faith, hope and love? Did they make you more like the Master, Jesus? Did they bring you life, wholeness or a sense of worth for both you and others? Or…did they lead you away from God, making you less faithful, hopeful or loving? Did they cause you to become more self-centered, controlling or anxious? Did they lure you into doubt and confusion? Did they lead to a day with less life and wholeness in it, destroying a sense of worth for both you and others?
Rejoice and Seek Forgiveness. Rejoice in those times that brought you closer to God and ask forgiveness for those times today when you resisted God’s presence in your life. Praise God for the grace of awareness given to you during this time of prayer, even if you became aware of things you are not proud of. This awareness is the beginning of healing and conversion.
Look to Tomorrow. Just as God has been with you today, so God will be with you as you sleep and when you wake up tomorrow. Invite God to be a part of your future. I have one friend who actually prays this prayer: “Jesus, I know that you are not only committed to being with me in my future…YOU ARE MY FUTURE!” Ask God to give you all you need for your day tomorrow. Ask Him to grant you the grace you need, the courage, confidence, wisdom, patience, determination, or peace needed for the day ahead. Close by speaking to God from your heart, offering Him your deepest desires, ending with a scripture or prayer that is dear to you.
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.