Note: This is part 3 of a series of proclaiming the Word of God as a lector, who reads the 1st and/or 2nd Scripture passages at Mass. Check out the beginning entry on reading the Bible. For an overview of Ignatian prayer, click here.
In Paragraph 75 of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola writes, “With mind raised high, [I] consider that God our Lord beholds me.”
St. Ignatius teaches us that the first step in prayer is to consider how God looks at me. We must always remember that God looks at us with love. Any thought that God looks with anger or indifference is a lie. God creates us out of his bountiful love and loves us with that love. “And Jesus looking upon him loved him” (Mark 10:21).
We must always remember that prayer is NOT a mental exercise. It’s a loving conversation between God and me. We’re spending time with a good friend. For example, couples sometimes don’t need to say much. They can just enjoy being in the presence of the other and gaze at each other. God is a person, not a nameless force. He thinks, he cares and he loves. He wants to spend with you in prayer.
If you can attend Perpetual Adoration or pray at a church, sit before the Blessed Sacrament. Br. Jonathon Hank, OMV gives a talk about the gaze of the Eucharistic face of Jesus.
If you can’t, choose any image of Jesus (Divine Mercy, Sacred Heart, Good Shepherd, Christ Pantocrator). Begin to let Jesus’ eyes of love look at you. The time can be short or long. St. Ignatius recommends the length of an Our Father. Time yourself when you pray the Our Father calmly and peacefully.
If you’re a beginner, spend your scheduled 5-10 minutes, letting Jesus look at you with love. Then you can end with the Our Father. Let his gaze of love pierce your heart.
For Scripture passages and reflection questions, you can refer to the first and second parts of the Divine Mercy retreat hosted by Deacon Paul and me on April 18-19, 2020.