Ignatius of Loyola was a Spanish knight from a local Basque noble family, hermit, priest, and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). He was a bit of a reformer but he worked from within the established Catholic Church, rather than splitting off. That’s the best I’ve got, as an Evangelical who knows nothing of the Catholic tradition. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Why am I talking about this dude? Well I’m giving his spiritual exercises a try in an attempt to draw closer to God and to be less focused on self and circumstances. How many times have we heard Charlyne Steinkamp yell, “Stop looking at your circumstances!”? Well it turns out that is really difficult to do.
The Spiritual Exercises are a compilation of meditations, prayers, and contemplative practices developed by St. Ignatius Loyola to help people deepen their relationship with God. For centuries the Exercises were most commonly given as a “long retreat” of about 30 days in solitude and silence (Ignatian Spirituality).
I am currently doing An Ignatian Prayer Adventure, an adapted version of the Spiritual Exercises, found at Ignatian Spirituality, rather than purchasing a book. The actual written content of each exercise is rather brief. The meat comes in my reflection, my meditation of the scripture, and the prayers I journal as I go. I am three days into this adventure and I have found these exercises to be ideally suited to the life of a stander. If you are standing, and you’re struggling to connect with God, as I am. If you feel like you need to add some depth to your devotional experience, I invite you to give these exercises a try with me.
- a Bible or two (I’m using an NIV, a Message, and my Bible app).
- a Journal (any notebook will do)
- Some good pens.
- A quiet, “sacred space” to work in.
I like to have a cup of coffee as well, but that is not entirely necessary. There are some great tips on getting ready to do this “retreat” here. Oddly, each day I have found that the exercise has deepened and expanded my understanding of the theme and passages in Charlyne Cares. If you’re already doing that devotional, as I am, I think that you will find that it fits nicely into this time of prayer and reflection.
I’m sure that this work will inform the next few posts you find here. Meanwhile, I leave you with one of the passages I have been chewing on and praying through for the last three days.
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:1-7)
That, my fellow standers, is how God feels about us and our spouse despite what we may be seeing on the ground.