Losing hours of work on the computer means to me that God wants me to revisit what I wrote, either to better study the contents, or to reflect more on the issues involved.
Today, I lost a long post on three topics, an unusual thing for me to do, as I usually write on one topic at a time.
However, this part of the Ignatian Journal I am writing is worth reviewing and review is a key part of the Exercises.
The first point is that some Catholics do not realize, as pointed out by the commentator of the book I am using, that the Exercises are not merely for deciding on a vocation. The other and, according to some historians of the Exercises, is to help a person move on the road to perfection.
Does this sound familiar? As one theologian notes, St. Ignatius would have been familiar with the mystic spirituality of the 13th century writers who paved the way for even authors like Garriou-Lagrange. The writings of St. Ignatius overlap with those of St. John of the Cross in many ways.
Part of the movement of the Exercises is from the deep awareness of sin, both mortal and venial, to the obliteration of all sin, through purgation, to the Illuminative State and the State of Union. This is one of the goals of all the meditations and prayer times in the Exercises. This is one reason I wanted to re-do the Exercises, not merely to be sure of the direction of my life, especially after making the solemn promises to God on September 1st, but to grow in the path to perfection.
One prays this prayer in the Exercises, “Lord, please give me an interior knowledge of yourself. Show me your Godly Attributes.” One also prays to Mary, asking her to share knowledge of her Incarnate Son with one.
Prayer in the exercises includes three types of prayer, which is my second subject today. The three types of prayer are vocal prayer, such as the Jesus Prayer, which Ignatius knew and which I have said since the 1970s. This small prayer may be said when walking, doing laundry, shopping and so on. It is especially useful if one gets bogged down in the Exercises, not being able to meditate or contemplate on a certain day for various reasons.
I have many people who want to see me despite the fact that I am in this mitigated retreat. Also, I am very tired from traveling to this retreat site. Therefore, the Jesus Prayer has been more important than I anticipated this week.
“Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner” may be said over and over and would be one of the prayers recommended even by Ignatius himself.
The second level of prayer is meditation, thinking and even imagining with the active imagination on the many passages of Scripture which are presented to one in the Exercises. Again, the call of the apostle in the Gospel of John has especially been helpful to me, revealing again, the physical journeys of Christ and His followers, especially Peter, Andrew, James, John and Philip.
I think I reminded my readers that as early as John 1:41, Andrew and Peter recognized Christ as the Messiah, but as St. Ignatius and his commentators note, these close friends of Christ came to know Christ through the preaching of St. John the Baptist, who told them Christ was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. So, they knew intellectually Jesus was the Christ, the Promised One.
Secondly, the apostles were invited to join Christ in a home, a place, perhaps even a camp in a field. They came to know and love him as a friend, a prophet, a teacher. But, lastly, when Christ called them finally from their jobs, from the fishing boats, they decided to follow Christ forever, leaving everything.
For some of us, this is a process which takes longer than months, perhaps even years. But, Christ gave these apostles the greatest of graces, and we are not apostles but disciples.
The third type of prayer is contemplation, the most difficult to attain, unless God gives infused contemplation, which He does eventually.
Contemplation in the first two weeks of the retreat, which I am in now, involves reflecting on the Our Father, and then the Hail Mary.
As of today, I have yet to do this, as I have had many interruptions from people which I cannot ignore. Part of this modified retreat is being open to people and not cutting myself off from the world. As this is my vocation, to be in the world, I can understand why God would call me to this type of retreat. Again, He wants to teach me how to contemplate when my time is limited.
So, the three types of prayer must be maintained in the Exercises. In fact, way back in the 1970s, I learned how to meditate using the active imagination from a person trained in the Ignatian Way.
The last topic has to to with what Ignatius calls motions or movements of the soul. He calls these mociones.
These are as follows:
- Act of the intellect, which are thoughts, lines of reasoning, imaginings, such as I share on this blog and the old blogs.
- Act of the will, which are love, hate, desire and fear, things which most people think are in the emotions, but which are actually willed by us humans.
- Affective feelings, which are urges, inclinations, impulses, such are feeling warm, cold, consoled or disconsolate.
May I add here that the feeling of dis-consolation, or desolation, does not mean that one should not continue with prayer or meditation. The powers of the soul, remember, which are memory, intellect and will, which can be influenced by good or bad angels, God or the devil, or our own selves and our own free will, influencing us to think or act in certain ways.
These points are found in my old posts on Ignatian spirituality and Framing Prayer, etc., as well as in the long, long perfection series using the Doctors of the Church and Garrigou-Lagrange.
Ignatius’ ideas fall into this long tradition of the Church regarding prayer and motions of the person which lead us to act for good or for evil.
The affective feelings, for example, enter into my life today as I am tired and have had so many meetings with people, These feelings are just feelings, but these affect the way one can pray or not be able to pray in a day. As noted before, Ignatius is the genius of prayer and psychology wherein he teaches us about ourselves as well as about God in the Exercises. One is led to God through daily life, and one brings God into daily life, while God renews creation though us when we join ourselves to Him. We become the light which goes into the world, and joins in this re-creation. This idea is at the heart of St. Ignatius missionary energy.
To be continued….