The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius

Letters from a Pastor to His People- July 5, 2020

 

Dear Parishioners,

If you missed my bulletin letter from last week, I explained how I am away currently and will be for the entire month of July making a 30-Day Retreat.  Just a reminder, I will not respond to any messages, so if there is an emergency, please contact the parish office or Father Emanuel. I wrote this week’s letter, and the upcoming letters, ahead of time, just to offer a little spiritual reflection on the readings.  I would also, however, like to provide some wisdom from St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Perhaps you could do a little "30-Day Retreat" with me.

Ignatius provided some content for the retreatant to pray with over the 30-day period.  The content is divided into four "Weeks" to be prayed throughout the month.  Each Week has a different focus.  The theme for the first week, which I am in right now, is God's Mercy and my own moral life.  Or, purgation, is another way to describe the emphasis of the first week.

Remember, Ignatius of Loyola was a soldier by trade.  His "exercises" are somewhat disciplined.  There is a reason he called his group the "Company of Jesus" or Society of Jesus (SJ).

Conversion is key for this first week.  Throughout the days, I will pray on where my attachments lay.  Am I completely committed to God or is there something not of God to which I am attached?  The need for healing from fear, guilt, and a poor self-image will arise.  A reflection will also arise on my sense of discipleship.  Again, am I incorporated into Christ and desirous only of following him?  If not, why not?

Look at the opening of our second reading.  Saint Paul writes, Brothers and sisters: You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit" (Romans 8:9).  Do I live in the flesh or in the spirit?

Ignatius has the retreatant in this first week ponder the sins of his entire life. After a meditation on Hell, Ignatius provides a meditation on the call to follow Christ the King.  The retreatant is to make this prayer:

Eternal Lord of all things, in the presence of Thy infinite goodness, and of Thy glorious mother, and of all the saints of Thy heavenly court, this is the offering of myself which I make with Thy favor and help. I protest that it is my earnest desire and my deliberate choice, provided only it is for Thy greater service and praise, to imitate Thee in bearing all wrongs and all abuse and all poverty, both actual and spiritual, should Thy most holy majesty deign to choose and admit me to such a state and way of life.

In praying that yourself, if you are filled with fear or worry, just recall our Lord's words from the Gospel: my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:30).  If follow Jesus, we will be at true rest.

I will leave with St. Ignatius' prayer called the Anima Christi:

SOUL OF CHRIST, SANCTIFY ME

BODY OF CHRIST, SAVE ME

BLOOD OF CHRIST, INEBRIATE ME

WATER FROM THE SIDE OF CHRIST, WASH ME

PASSION OF CHRIST, STRENGTHEN ME

O GOOD JESUS, HEAR ME

WITHIN THY WOUNDS HIDE ME

PERMIT ME NOT TO BE SEPARATED FROM THEE

FROM THE WICKED FOE DEFEND ME

AT THE HOUR OF MY DEATH CALL ME

AND BID ME COME TO THEE

THAT WITH THY SAINTS I MAY PRAISE THEE

FOR EVER AND EVER. AMEN.

 

Yours in Christ,

Fr. James

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