Week Four - Daily Schedule
Theme: Discovering that the living God beholds me with compassion and delight.
Grace/Desire: I want to may see more clearly the constancy and faithfulness of God's tremendous love, goodness and generosity to me.
Prayer Materials for the Week
- Isaiah 49: 8-16: God of mercy. Should a mother forget her infant, I will never forget you.
- 2 Corinthians 5:14-18: Humanity now shares in Jesus' risen life. For God haschosen not to let people's sins destroy his creation.
- Is 45: 7-13: God creates me more surely than a potter creates a pot. He makes my shape and even my clay. He determines how I will be used.
- Prayer of Consideration: The Way Things Are.
- Luke 15:11-32: This is about the Prodigal's Father. He wants to love both of his children. He waits for them to turn to him.
- Romans 5:6-11: Christ died when we were still in sin ... joyful trust ... Is it likely that he would fail us now?
- Repeat one of the scripture passages.
Keep in Mind
God our Creator and Lord writes God's hopes into our desiring. If our hearts are made for God, then God has planted deep, deep desires for God in our hearts. If God's command is that we love one another and do justice to all, then deep in ourselves burns a passionate desire to do those things, and filling those desires will make us beatifically happy. Because of this, we keep asking God for what we want in prayer and in these exercises.
Almighty and ever-caring God, You are powerful to give life and to take it away. You order all things from end to end, beyond my comprehension, beyond my imagining.
Your passionate hope is that every person be saved from selfishness and self-destruction. You want no one to perish, to live forever alone. Instead, You want a reign of love to rise from within our hearts, and embrace each human person and every thing on the earth. I praise You and I thank You that You teach me these things through Christ our Lord.
How am I experiencing God these days?
I am accepted by God...
God loves me as I am...
God's presence is gift rather than threat...
God begins anew all things at each moment...
I yearn to know the real God...
I am now finishing a month of the Exercises that I wanted to go through. I might want to begin examining whether or not I am doing what I set out to do.
Through Jesus, God is present to us always (Mt 28:20). God reveals God's self as one who cares and is concerned about us (Jn 20:11-18; Jn 21:9-14). The quality of this presence is gentleness and patience. Ignatius suggests that every time we being a prayer exercise, we should pause for a few moments as we recollect ourselves and consider "how God beholds me." We go to prayer with an attitude of listening. In prayer we let God's word speak of God's own nearness and care; we let the Spirit give us that deeper trust and confidence that we need. - adapted from John Veltri, S.J., Orientations
- If you know how to pray with fantasy, you might do that. Imagine, for instance, that you are a lump of clay and God is shaping you - and then tell Him what you actually experience and feel.
- When you repeat a passage, give more time to the ideas, desires, feelings that were particularly strong and good, and to those that seem to have been particularly problematic or obscure or vexing. Go back to those places where you felt discouragement, revulsion, anger, or simply nothing at all - places like the "black holes" in our universe from which no light or warmth comes. Go back also to those places where you felt great encouragement, love for God, and enthusiasm to go on - places like the volcanoes on our globe that throw up blazing rivers and that roar with energy. You will visit many of these "black holes and volcanoes" during the Ignatian Exercises.
- Note about prayerful reading that you read slowly, stop and muse over words or phrases, readily begin speaking with God the Lord, and feel no pressure to finish the passage.
Adapted from Joseph Tetlow, S.J., "Choosing Christ in the World"
Luke 4: 16-30 Jesus finds himself a Nazarean, alive in the Roman Peace. The Father cared for him all his life and now he "walks right through them." Jesus' Spirit raises great desires in Him to reconcile everyone to God.
When we come to prayer, we need to collect our scattered thoughts and affects so that we come to God with a single heart. Writers give this process various names. Some talk about coming to quiet, or reaching a sense of harmony with all beings. Some talk about reaching self-concentration, so that my thoughts and desires are not running all over, but come to coherence and rest. Many talk about "centering," meaning that we can come to the core of our self for a moment and desire and act out of that center.
Whatever name you use, recognize that some quiet and concentration help very much as we begin our prayer time.
Here are some ways of accomplishing that "centering" that you might find useful. You might already have your way of doing it. If not, test various ways until you are able to pray a little more readily.
- Stand or sit (or take some other position that you come to find helpful). Concentrate for just a moment on yourself standing, or sitting, or in whatever position. Attend to each part of your body: to the tiny feelings on your scalp and face, to the pressure of clothing on your neck; to the position of your arms and hands; to the pressures of chair or floor on back, stomach, rump; to the feelings on thighs, knees, calves; to the pressure of the floor on heel or sole. Then just sense yourself in this total position, and go on to ask God to let you feel your presence to your Creator and Lord.
- Take a quiet position. Slowly and gently concentrate your attention on your breathing, focusing down onto the air moving in and out of your nostrils. Keep focused on that moving air for a while until you are quiet.
- Breathing that way, you might begin to think some words as you breathe. So, think "Lord Jesus Christ" as you breathe in, and "King of Eternal Glory" as you breathe out - over and over. Or use the Jesus Prayer, thinking "Jesus Christ" as you breathe in, and "have mercy" as you breathe out. After continuing this for a time, gently turn to the prayer materials you have prepared. Understand that we never "finish" this kind of praying, we simply turn from it to another kind.
- Take a quiet position. Gradually grow aware of what you are hearing. Listen to each sound, trying to distinguish single sounds from the general noise. Simply hear the sounds, without trying to figure out where they are coming from or to interpret them. Consciously let the sounds continue on their own, aware of the fact that they do not attack you or violate you or depend on you. As you let them go on entirely on their own, grow aware that you are present to your Creator and Lord.
- As you can grow aware of the sounds you are hearing, so you can also grow aware of the sights you are seeing, and even of the odors and fragrances you smell.
- Instead of becoming quite still, you might come to concentration by gentle gesture or movement. For instance, you could think some prayerful thoughts - "Lord, You are God; I come to You; I give these moments to You alone; You hold me utterly" - and as you think them, you could gesture or dance them out. Slowly raise your hand, slowly bow from the waist, slowly hold up your hands together as though they were filled with gifts. After a time of this, you will know to grow still and turn to the matters you have decided to pray upon.
- Others use other means. Light a candle for its fragrance and presence. Gaze at a small object before you, such as a little stone, carefully seeing everything about it, until you can feel the fact that God our Creator and Lord keeps making you and the stone. Play some quiet music. Burn incense. Note these general rules: We each find a way to concentrate. We commonly find one or other way more useful at one time than at others. We sometimes feel more dissipated than usual and need to use some means of centering that we would not ordinarily use. Centering proves useful, but is not an end in itself, and on occasion it expresses or leads to a kind of self-absorption that makes praying a little more difficult. Centering at the start of prayer ordinarily makes praying more feasible.