The grace we are asking of God: a deeply felt awareness of how God draws us into the unfolding of the mystery of the Word made flesh and how in doing this we enter into a process of healing that we might love Jesus and follow him more intentionally
Horizons of the Heart is inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius and my own notes from my thirty-day Ignatian retreat in 2022.
Remember a time when you felt God close to you, a “wow” moment, an overwhelm moment. It could be as simple as an evening when you watched the sun slowly set or as profound as an experience of prayer in which you felt seen, known, spoken to by God or by the Blessed Mother. As you re-enter that experience, pay attention to how it registers in your feelings. When you pick up a puppy dog lost in the rain, your heart goes out to the poor animal. You can “feel” how much you care. The same when you interact with a baby. We can’t help loving such a little one. Similarly, when we encounter the divine, we know on every level of our being that we are in the presence of God. Soak in that presence, that sense of mystery, warmth, tenderness, security.
In our Contemplative Prayer Experiences in which we enter into the stories of Jesus’ life, we are asking of God these things: a deeply felt awareness of how God draws us into the unfolding of the mystery of the Word made flesh and how in doing this we enter into a process of healing that we might love Jesus and follow him more intentionally.
- A deeply felt awareness: not a notional knowledge, but an awareness that reaches deep down within us, that transforms us from the inside out with the movements of God’s mysterious reaching out to us; a transformation that is worked on the level of memories, desires, imagination, what is barely conscious but which has an inordinate say regarding how we think, feel, and act in our day-to-day life
- …of how God draws us into the unfolding of the mystery of the Word made flesh: as we enter into the dance of prayer and love, God draws our life into the unfolding of his Son’s life, Jesus the Word made flesh. We are not here and Jesus over there somewhere, a story in our memories, a picture in our imagination.As we enter into Jesus’ life, as we speak with him, our lives are brought together with his. We are healed as Jesus lives out the mystery of his life in us.
- …how in doing this we enter into a process of healing: As we enter into the stories of Jesus’ life, there may surface in our lives a deep emptiness, a black hole in our heart, an unexplained fear, agitation, or resistance. As we appreciate God’s gift of his Son who lived among us, we allow Jesus’ mystery to touch us deeply particularly in those places in our life in which we carry heavy burdens and bear wounds of which we may even be unconscious.
- …that we might love Jesus and follow him more intentionally: The Spiritual Exercises very gently lead us from healing to self-offering, to that commitment to follow Jesus with our whole heart no matter where he may lead, no matter what it may cost.
As you reflect on this grace, what is it that strikes you most? Are there wounds in your life that come to mind? Would you say that you are ready to give God everything, or is God gently leading through a path of healing and mercy to prepare you to receive this great grace?
Return to the experience of God’s closeness with which you began this prayer. Ask God what it is that he wants you to know? To see? To believe?
Image credit: Hugo Gonzalez by Cathopic