Today’s Lectio Divina:
The next day John was back at his post with two disciples, who were watching. He looked up, saw Jesus walking nearby, and said, “Here He is, God’s Passover Lamb.” The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus. Jesus looked over His shoulder and said to them, “What are you after?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” He replied, “Come along and see for yourself.” They came, saw where He was living, and ended up staying with Him for the day. It was late afternoon when this happened.
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. When He got there, He ran across Philip and said, “Come, follow Me.” (Philip’s hometown was Bethsaida, the same as Andrew and Peter.) Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, “We’ve found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It’s Jesus, Joseph’s son, the One from Nazareth!” Nathanael said, “Nazareth? You’ve got to be kidding.” But Philip said, “Come, see for yourself.” John 1: 35-39, 43-46 (MsgB)
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.
You must understand that Ignatius of Loyola did not form the Spiritual Exercises so that he might convert people to Christ. The goal, as well, wasn’t to indoctrinate people into a certain set of Christian beliefs, nor was it to form a church community or religious sect. In truth, all of these things happened, but only as by-products to the main truth behind the Exercises themselves.
You see, Ignatius, quite simply, was not a saint when he assembled the material we now call his Spiritual Exercises. In truth, he was just another worldly man with fleshly goals to make a name for himself. And just as it was in the 16thcentury (Ignatius’ time), so it is today. Men and women all across the globe, sinners like you and me who are made in the image of our Creator, are very prone to wander.
Have you noticed that trait in yourself, yet?
For me, I’ve been a church-goer most of my 60-plus years of life. Yet church-going, and yes, even being a pastor of a church-full of church-goers, has never saved me from my inward tendencies toward wandering off the path, following my own interests and desires instead of keeping my eyes fixed on the One who is the path, Jesus of Nazareth.
Ignatius, as he found himself laid up for a good length of time as his body recovered from a cannon shot to his leg, discovered that Jesus was inviting him to more in life than he had previously experienced through his own fleshly efforts. This invitation led Ignatius down a path that he had never walked before.
And, just as it was with men and women in the first century who made a conscious decision to respond to Jesus’ invitation to “come, see for yourself,” Ignatius decided to follow the Master, learning to trust His leadership in his life rather than taking that responsibility upon himself. The good news for all of us who want to take a similar pathway is that Ignatius took some great notes along the way!
Those scribbled notes that Ignatius jotted down as he journeyed with Jesus have now become what we call the Spiritual Exercises. And I’m assuming you’re reading this blog because you’ve either decided to enter into the Exercises for the first time, or you have done so in the past.
So, as we begin this series, we call Iggy’s Biggies, allow me to summarize the goal.
In truth, there are only two choices to make in this life.
Option One: I will live my life according to the way I choose to live it.
Option Two: I will live my life deferring to the way God, my Creator, reveals it.
For those who know that Option Two is the better choice, Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises will be an invaluable tool that will offer us a fairly comprehensive overview of how we might best live out our decision to follow Jesus wherever He might lead.
As I see it, the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius are nothing more, and nothing less, than a tool of intentionality. A practical way through which you and I can grow closer to the Master while still living in a world that is full of opportunities to go our own way. The Exercises can become our way of choosing to respond to Jesus’ invitation to “Come, see for yourself.”
You up for the journey?
If so, let’s walk the path together.
There’s Jesus up ahead.
Here, we go.
My prayer: Jesus, I hear Your kind invitation, I see You beckoning me to “come, see for yourself.” Now, Holy Spirit, empower me and indwell me so that my intentionality in following Jesus goes beyond words and prayers. Thank You, Father God, for the gift of Ignatius’ Exercises which have proven to be a very practical tool in following Jesus for many who have gone before me. May I find fruit in this endeavor as well. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to consider: My view of the Exercises will shape the success or lack of success in doing them. Do I view them as hoops to be jumped through, hurdles to be overcome? Or can I see them as simple, complimentary tools of spirituality that are available to me along the way, as I keep my eyes fixed on following Jesus?
How are you experiencing God as you ponder on these Ignatian truths today?
Over a period of twelve weeks (3 sessions per week), 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!