Thursday, July 14, 2022

St. Ignatius of Loyola -- Pray as you go

Open any website or book or scripture for the Christian, and you'll find something about poverty, environment, sex discrimination, wealth gap and race.  Since that's also the constant drum beat of the secular media, academic research and pagans, it falls flat--it is so mundane and nagging. Our sins most flagrant yet important to address according to Jesus are those closest, like members of our family or church or workplace. It's the commandment from both the Old and New Testaments--love neighbor as self. That said, there are so many sources to remind us of the horizontal dimensions of the cross. This link is to Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises.  He lived in the 16th century and developed a plan to help focus on the gospel. Others carry on his work. This is just one of the first I came across in an internet search. 

"Pray as you can, not as you can't." Additional links at this site on the left of your screen, some with soothing music and voices. Some with "examen" prayer opportunities for beginning of day, end of day, end of week, 

And if you carry a phone with you (I don't, but tried it after downloading the app), there's a link for walking with meditation.   with either male or female voice. About 40 minutes.  I haven't tried this--I'd be so distracted by a squirrel or fairy garden or piece of trash carelessly thrown from a passing car. I used the original meditation noted at the beginning here, rather than the walking one.

Ignatius on gratitude

Is there a distinctly Ignatian understanding of gratitude?

In the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola, gratitude is not just beneficial to us, it is the only logical response to the grace of God.

There is a logic of gratitude that grows through the Exercises, a dynamic of grace building upon grace. Ignatius does not begin the Exercises with his great call to trait gratitude, the Contemplation to Attain Love – he ends with it. First, we need to see clearly and in true perspective. We begin by seeing ourselves in the context of creation, of the Fall, and of the decision by the Trinity to enter into our ensnared world and set it free. We then walk with Jesus step by step, through birth, life, agony, death and resurrection. The daily drip-feeding of state gratitude with the Examen culminates in the trait gratitude of the Contemplation to Attain Love. So gratitude is the fruit of all that we have experienced. We do not create it; it is brought to birth through our encounter with Jesus. We also do not force it. Ignatius urges us throughout the Exercises to be honest about our desires and our responses. He notes that we do not always desire the best, and that sometimes we need to pray for the desire for the desire. Tell the truth, and then pray for the grace you need: this is the process. Gratitude is perspective. When I see myself contextualised in the whole of salvation history, my response will be ‘the cry of wonder’. There is a natural welling-up of gratitude and love, which is intended to last, to make us people of gratitude at a deeper level.

For all Christians, there is a distinctive quality to their gratitude: belief in God as the giver. In a secular worldview, gratitude may be a response to a series of gifts from random ‘others’. For Christians, our lens is our ongoing relationship with God, the architect of salvation. Our root gratitude is to the One who has given, who gives now, and who can be utterly trusted to keep on giving. As Michael Ivens SJ explains, ‘Gratitude for the past… leads to trust for the future.’[14] Ignatius structures the Contemplation to Attain Love to reflect this past, present and future engagement with grace in my life and in the whole world, coming personally and intentionally from God.

There is broad agreement that gratitude is good for you, and that it’s linked to happiness. But where the science of gratitude seeks to understand gratitude, Ignatius wants us to orient ourselves through it. Where positive psychology notes that ‘gratitude has good outcomes’, for Ignatius it is much stronger than that: more like, ‘if you see God’s world and your life as they really are, gratitude will well up in you’. All agree that ‘if you want to be happy, be grateful’, but for Ignatius it’s fundamental: gratitude is the only disposition that makes sense.

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