Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ignatian Meditation for Dummies

Well, I'm back from the abyss! After a week's preparation and a weekend's frenetic activity, the "Associates' Weekend" has come to a close. I was privileged to plan and prepare dinner, dessert, and brunch for 18 guests this weekend in addition to having to cook this week's Sunday dinner. I had to do an extra load of laundry as my clothes had begun to smell of pancakes, grilled steak, and bacon!

On a more edifying note, it was my honor to have been asked to present a little presentation on "Ignatian Meditation" to the Associates (guys discerning a vocation with the Society of Jesus). I've decided to offer to you what I gave to them.

Two prefatory notes:

1. This is meant as an Introduction. It'll probably not be helpful to those with a great deal of experience.

2. Ignatian meditation is counter-intuitive to many of us. Mommies and Daddies should actually have the easiest time, I reckon, with this sort of prayer. Why? Because they have watched their children "assume" roles: Harry Potter, Spiderman, Dora. Ignatian Meditation asks that you enter into the story of scripture, that you become a part of the action. It engages the imagination...a faculty that we "modern" folk seem to have abandoned.

My advice for this prayer: be a child again. Let the wonder and excitement of taking on a new character, of 'putting on' another, captivate you. Allow this naivete open you to the movement of the Spirit, enkindling your heart.

Points for Ignatian Meditation

1. Find a quiet place to pray. This may be in your room, a chapel, your office with its door closed.

2. Establish a sense of inner peace and tranquility. Let the cares and concerns of the moment slip away. Sometimes reciting a decade of the Rosary or a favorite prayer from memory will help to ease you into the prayer.

3. As you relax into God's presence, take a moment to greet the Lord. Ask God to give you the grace to see what God desires for you.

4. Slowly read a passage from scripture. Get a sense of its geography and flow. Is there something that stands out to you?

5. Read it again. Is there something in particular that is touching your heart - either enlivening or frightening you?

6. Now be a child: place yourself in the scene. Are you a main character? A spectator? Think about the following:

1. What are you wearing?
2. What are the sights? Smells? Textures? Sounds?
3. What is going on around you?
4. Who else is there? Do you recognize those around you?

7. Surrender to the story. Interact with your surrounding, allow yourself to be guided by the Spirit as you speak and engage with others.

8. Do not try to control the prayer. Surrender! Let the Spirit guide you.

9. How are you feeling? Is your "heart on fire?"

10. As you bring your prayer to a close, perhaps you might take a few minutes to speak to the Lord about your experience. Be candid - tell God what/how you have felt.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ryan, for the Jesuit insights that are so useful. I am sorry for the troubles you seem to face from those who hate you and what you stand for.

Jason said...

Great intro, but especially that it's concise. I'm going to print it out for one of my classes.

Unknown said...

Stellar stuff! In fact, I'm going to unload this on a pile of 8th Graders I have in my CCD class!



Mike Bayard, S.J. said...

This is excellent! Having just finished being a director on an Ignatian Retreat, this is one of the most concise outlines for doing an Ignatian meditation. I hope to use this with students and alumni in the future. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips/hynts/directions--I've found Ignatian Meditation very difficult to even begin. I'll try again.

Stephen M. Bauer said...

Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Do you suppose "contemplation" might be a more apt description than "meditation"?

Unknown said...

Hi Sandy,

In general, I do think that it is. But within the tradition I find people can get confused between, say, Carmelite 'contemplation' emphasizing imageless prayer versus the Ignatian version of contemplation. Both emphasize the direct presence of God, but in more popular parlance the idea of meditation resonates better insofar as Ignatian prayer uses images.


utopie said...

is there a reason why ignatius leaves it open in what posture we do a meditation? a friend of mine who is a medievalist told me that in the middle ages the body always had importance for how to do a meditation. is it something that changes with modern times? or is ignatius special? on the one hand it seems to be important for him where to be (his wish to be in jerusalem) - on the other he might have had an uncomfortable attitude towards his own body (my speculation - having in mind how he had suffered from his injuries). do you think that is why he left the question of posture out?
just curious...

Anonymous said...

Dr Taylor says: I believe that the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world, and the more peaceful our planet will be.

ruralbarry said...

This concise introduction is very helpful. I come from a Christian tradition that in the past has 'taught' in a traditional style but have used adapted forms of Ignation meditation in group Bible study. We will use this when looking at the wedding at Caana tomorrow!

Shaktipat Seer said...

I'm saying "WOW!" as I read this! As a practitioner of what's called "Mahayoga" of Tibetan Buddhism, this relates exactly to the type of "Self-Generation" meditations we do designed to stimulate the "Creative Vision" into states of ecstasy and rapture.. Very insightful!