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Tuesday, 31 July 2018 08:00

Unwrapping the Gift of St Ignatius

iggy

Today (July 31) is the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola. He is one of the ten saints that we as MGL Sisters take as our patrons. He has left some timeless gifts to the church, no doubt inspiring many people down through the ages to discover God in new and life-changing ways. Here are just four of them – note to reader - this blog is a little longer than usual, but St Ignatius has so much to offer us that I felt it necessary to share each one of these gifts with you…..

  • Imaginative Prayer

Ignatius advocated using the imagination to pray. I can say from personal experience that there is incredible power in using my senses to enter in to the stories of scripture. To place myself in the story and imagine myself there as one of the central characters, or even as an onlooker brings them alive in a completely unique way. In that place, a beautiful heart to heart conversation with Jesus can emerge. But perhaps a short example may help…..

One day I was praying with the scripture of Jesus’ birth from Luke’s Gospel. I imagined myself to be the daughter of the owner of the stable as I felt like this gave me a reason to be present in what was taking place. I walked past and glanced in at Mary and Joseph who were gazing at Jesus. In time, Mary looked up and beckoned me to come in to join them. At this point I realised that I was there as myself. She gave me the baby Jesus to hold and I held him close and could feel his beating heart. I felt washed with love. Nothing needed to be said for nothing could express the gift of holding him close, of smelling his new-born smell, of admiring the features of his face. I simply sat in this peace, soaking up and breathing in grace. I later realised it was particularly significant because it reminded me of when I held my first nephew just after he was born. At that time, I had a powerful realisation that while he was an incredible gift, I would never receive the gift of my own child in my life. As this was in the years prior to joining consecrated life, it was a tangible moment in being drawn to respond to God’s call. As I reflected on what it now means, I realised just as a mother holds her new born baby, the one she is called to love her life for, I was holding baby Jesus – the baby and the one I am called to love my life for.

 

  • The Examen

The Examen is a way to become attuned to noticing God’s constant and abiding presence in our lives. In this way, it is really about entering into the adventure of a life with God – with all the excitement and joy, but also into the harder and more challenging parts. It is about capturing the ways that God has loved us through the day and noting our response.

Generally speaking, there are five steps in the Examen:

  1. Asking for the Holy Spirit - REQUEST
  2. Expressing gratitude for the blessings of the day – RELISH
  3. A REVIEW of the day where I consider what in my day is spiritually significant. It is a time of asking God to help me notice moments of consolation and desolation, moments of grace and challenge, moments when God felt close or seemed hidden, and noting my response to these.
  4. A time to REPENT for the ways I may have missed opportunities to respond to God.
  5. I may wish to RESOLVE to make a change as I head into the following day.

I personally find the praying of the Examen a blessing in my life as it enables me to become more aware of the presence of God in my daily life. There are many ways that an Examen can be prayed, but I like to write down what emerges from my prayer as it helps me to remember what God has revealed to me over many days. This is important because it also enables me to notice patterns that may emerge over time.

 

  • Principles of Discernment

Ignatius is also well known for his principles for discernment. When young woman ask us about how they can discover what God is calling them to in their lives, what we share with them is often based in the wisdom of discernment. Stay tuned for our blogs next week – National Vocations Awareness Week as we will be unpacking some of these.


So, there is a little taste of some of the amazing gifts that St Ignatius has to offer. I really encourage you to check it our further in any of the following ways:

  • Check out https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/
  • If you want to read anything, Timothy Gallagher has some great books about all the above gifts of Ignatius. They are super easy to read, and are filled with relatable practical examples
  • Give it a go – opening these gifts will definitely encourage and enhance your relationship with God.

Mel Edwards