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.

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