Today’s Lectio Divina:
Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed Your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way You like to work.” Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given Me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to Myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen. Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11: 25-30 (MsgB)
Back in September of 2014, my wife, Sandy, and I were beginning our second year of training in spiritual direction. As part of our extensive coursework with Sustainable Faith, we were required to journey through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. You can read my full story here, but suffice to say that I came into this part of my training with much trepidation. You see, despite the fact that I’d been a Christ-follower for much of my sixty-plus years and a pastor for nearly thirty of those years, I’d never been very successful with any standardized discipleship programming. Like most “read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year” programs or other “self-help-do-it-yourselvers” for diet or exercise, I’d get out of the gates just fine, thank you, but after a few weeks of “doing the program,” my ability to keep going simply got up and left!
Do you know that story?
I bet you do!
As I listened to our teacher, Dave Nixon, talk about our assigned reading material (The Ignatian Adventure by Father Kevin O’Brien), all the typical doubts and questions began to surface for me. Such as…
Who in the heck is St. Ignatius of Loyola and why would I want to spend the next nine months doing his Spiritual Exercises?
I’m not Catholic and I don’t root for Loyola, so why would I want to read a textbook on Ignatius written by some dude (Father O’Brien) who was once a lawyer and then, later in life, became a Jesuit priest?
Ignatian spirituality? Ain’t that something only for priests, nuns and a few select pastors to do in their spare time at seminary?
The truth be known, I was about three or four weeks into the assignment before it occurred to me that this stuff could make a real difference in my life!
Now, here we are over five years later, and I’ve been so blessed by being around the Ignatian Exercises that I’m now writing blogs about it and coming alongside others as they go through the Exercises as well. Suffice to say that I’ve become a true-believer in the power of the Holy Spirit to use this ancient material in assisting so many to find that deeper life in Christ that so many of us want to have.
I invite you to join me over the next few weeks as we take a journey into Iggy’s Biggies, contemplating twelve foundational truths found within the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Here, you’ll find a dozen Ignatian take-aways, truths that when applied to your life, can become game-changers in your faith-walk with Jesus of Nazareth.
Take note that each blog session begins with a short scripture reading. My suggestion is that you don’t hurry through, or skip the text, but treat it as a Lectio Divina reading where you slow down and sit a bit with God’s Word, allowing it to penetrate and influence you as you read.
Today’s text, for example, serves as a perfect primer for the powerful invitation Jesus extended to Ignatius in the 16th century, and to us here in the 21stcentury as well. For the record, let’s read it once again…
Thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed Your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way You like to work…The Father has given Me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to Myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen. Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Following the scripture reading, I will offer you a few paragraphs of my own thoughts on the subject of the day, followed by both a prayer written in response to my writings and a question or two for you to ponder as you embrace the truth you’ve just read.
For the record, here’s an overview of where we’ll be going in the days ahead…
Iggy’s Biggies: 12 Key Components of Ignatian Spirituality:
Ignatian Truth #1: Ignatian spirituality is all about the Spiritual Exercise. Every person’s journey with God is unique, so any spiritual discipline we enter into with the intention of opening ourselves up to God is good. Adaptability with creativity is needed as each person journeys alongside Jesus.
Ignatian Truth #2: Ignatian spirituality is all about God as our Creator. God is involved in the world and involved in the lives of individuals, guiding us, communicating to us, and loving us. God is holy, other, and transcendent; yet God is personal, involved, and immanent. God is Triune – with each person of the Trinity unique, but yet One.
Ignatian Truth #3: Ignatian spirituality is all about Finding God in All Things. In God we live, we move, and we have our being. There is no separation between sacred and secular.
Ignatian Truth #4: Ignatian spirituality is all about Jesus. His life, His death, and His resurrection.
Ignatian Truth #5: Ignatian spirituality is all about Freedom. We are free to be our true selves, free to be all God has made us to be.
Ignatian Truth #6: Ignatian spirituality is all about Conversational Prayer. We are encouraged in the use of our God-given imagination – bringing together the right/left side of the brain. We walk with Jesus rather than just read about Him. We talk with God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as one converses with a friend.
Ignatian Truth #7: Ignatian spirituality is all about Holistic Spirituality. We intentionally focus on inward feelings, emotions, and desires, but we also live our lives in balance; tending to the body, the mind, and the spirit…our actions, our thoughts, and our feelings.
Ignatian Truth #8: Ignatian spirituality is all about the Prayer of Examen. Self-awareness is the key prayer practice of the Exercises and an important tool for becoming a discerning, grateful person. The Examen extends beyond the Exercises, helping us develop a healthy rhythm of life; morning, afternoon and evening.
Ignatian Truth #9: Ignatian spirituality is all about Consolation vs. Desolation. God-awareness is all about anything, internal or external, that takes us toward God (consolation) vs. anything, internal or external, that takes us away from God (desolation).
Ignatian Truth #10: Ignatian spirituality is all about Holy Indifference. Freedom from disordered attachments empowers us to say yes to God, living more fully into the person God has created us to be. The glory of God is a person fully alive (St Irenaeus). Resistance to indifference is not to be ignored but can serve as a doorway to the Divine and to self-discovery.
Ignatian Truth #11: Ignatian spirituality is all about Rules of Discernment. A discerning person is always looking for an inner awareness of the movement of the Spirit, asking the question, “Am I being driven or drawn?” Ignatius’ analogy of a drop of water hitting a sponge (consolation) or a rock (desolation) is helpful, and a discerning person knows to keep discerning even after a decision is made, and not to change a decision made in a season of consolation when found in a time of desolation.
Ignatian Truth #12: Ignatian spirituality is all about living our lives for the Greater Glory of God (AMDG). We’re contemplatives-in-action; Christ-followers set apart for the glory of God and the service of others. Our mission, as we grow ever closer to Jesus, will mean that the road is our home.
So, come on along as we poke our head under the hood of St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises. Hopefully, you’ll be blessed with a better understanding of what some call Ignatian Spirituality, or in my words, Iggy’s Biggies!
My prayer: Father God, I come to You this day, seeking Your life and Your freedom in my life. I don’t want to enter into a legalistic, cut-and-dried scripture study, but a season of life-refreshing, spirit-indwelling time with Your Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Holy Spirit, breathe in me the strength to follow Him. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to consider: How might my past experiences with programmed Scripture studies get in the way of receiving real life and freedom as I explore the Exercises of Ignatius? What expectations do I need to set aside in order to take a fresh, new look at these ancient truths found in God’s Word?
How are you experiencing God as you ponder on these Ignatian truths today?
Over a period of twelve weeks (3 sessions per week, published on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays), we will take this journey into Iggy’s Biggies, contemplating twelve foundational truths found within the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. We suggest you bookmark our blog series homepage to keep all the writings in one place for your future reference. Take note that each blog session begins with a short scripture reading. My suggestion is that you don’t hurry through, or skip the text, but treat it as a Lectio Divina reading where you slow down and sit a bit with God’s Word, allowing it to penetrate and influence you as you read.
If you’ve never journeyed through the Exercises, might I suggest that you find a qualified spiritual director and ask them to accompany you along the way? Here at The Contemplative Activist, we can offer a good number of highly qualified folks to do just that.
Oh, and if you enjoy what you’re reading here, we encourage you to share this page and our website, The Contemplative Activist, with your friends!