Notes: Great joy stays with us during this final stage of the “outer” journey. The long cherished goal of Manresa is at hand! Remember the “introductory prayer” and the final colloquy both at the end of the prayer and also during the day. May our hearts be filled with the strength of the Holy Spirit, and may the Spirit’s strength go with us on this milestone day in our lives. The Ignatian path for today invites us to continue our inner pilgrimage. Don’t forget to look at our last meditation in Manresa.
Grace: I beg God to give me an intimate knowledge of the many gifts I have received. Filled with gratitude for these many gifts, may I love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflections: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are always at work sharing themselves with us. This sharing empowers us to be contemplatives-in-action, finding God in all things. The Jesuits decreed in their 32nd General Congregation that “each member of every Jesuit community must be mindful of what St. Ignatius says about love – that it consists in sharing what one has, who one is, and all those whom one loves. Today will focus our meditation on this experience of love as an exchange of who one is and what one shares with the beloved. In the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius invites us to understand just how God’s Love is given to us and shared so generously out of God’s great goodness. With this cascade of gifts and graces, we must also respond in a generous and loving way. We will follow the directions of Ignatius to let our hearts expand in the Love of God. The steps of this Ignatian contemplation are as follows:
CONTEMPLATION TO ATTAIN LOVE.
Two things should be noted: The first is that love is expressed more in actions than in words. The second is that love is a communication between two persons. It is to know, to give, and to communicate from the lover to the one loved, and vice versa, whatever one has or is able to have. So, if one has wisdom, he shares this with the one who has not, or honors and riches from the one who has to the one who does not.
Then I return to the introductory prayer and ask that everything be directed to God’s will. Next I center myself within the prayer. I imagine that I stand before God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Spirit of Love who created me in my humanity. I call to mind today’s conscious desire: I ask the Father to give me an intimate knowledge of the many gifts I have received so that, filled with gratitude for all of them, I may love and serve the Divine Majesty in every way.
And I begin my contemplation. The first point is to call to mind the benefits received from God: the fact of being born and of being saved by Jesus, as well as for all those personal gifts I enjoy. I consider all that God our Lord has done for me and how much of Himself God has shared with me. Aware of this reality, I ponder with much reason and justice what I might offer and return to His Divine Majesty, that is to say all my possessions and all of myself.
Then, as you wish, consider that anyone who desires to be more responsive to God will make the following self-offering: “Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my under-standing, and my entire will – all I have and call my own. You have given everything to me. So I return it, to be used according to your will. Give me only your love and grace. These are enough for me.”
Completing the first point, Ignatius proposes a second point: notice how God dwells in all of creation and in all living creatures: giving life to all natural elements, bringing vegetation to the plants, sense to the animals, and understanding to humans. God also gives me life, encouragement, direction, and understanding. God also makes me a holy temple, created in His likeness and Divine image. I then reflect on myself –how I live, what I accomplish, and how I may serve. I end this point by returning to the previous prayer of self-offering: “Take Lord and receive…”
The third point is to consider how God actually works and labors for me in all created things: everything in the heavens and the elements, plants, fruits, animals, etc. God gives and preserves all life, giving awareness, vegetation, etc. Then I think about myself: what can I do to return this love I have received. I finish this point by returning to the previous prayer of self-offering: “Take Lord and receive…”
The fourth: notice how every good gift descends from above, and my own strength comes only from God’s infinite power. Thus justice, goodness, mercy, all other good gifts that I recognize in myself as well as in the world (like the rays from the sun, our water supply, etc.) all come from God. After considering the origins of all that is good, I consider myself and the way I will make a return for all that I have received. I end this reflection by returning to the self-offering prayer above: “Take Lord and receive …” Finish with the usual colloquy and the “Our Father.”
Final colloquy: At this point in our inner pilgrimage, we are accustomed to walk with our friend and Lord Jesus Christ, speaking freely as one friend does with another. Conclude with the “Our Father.”