Ignatian prayer: Talking with a friend

Note: This is part 4 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 54 of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola writes, “The colloquy is made by speaking exactly as one friend speaks to another, or as a servant speaks to a master, now asking him for a favor, now blaming himself for some misdeed, now making known his affairs to him, and seeking advice in them.  Close with an Our Father.”

I previously had talked about the colloquy during the second talk of the Divine Mercy Retreat hosted by Deacon Paul and me on April 18-19, 2020.  My focus then was beginning to talk to Jesus as a friend.  A conversation with Jesus requires an open, vulnerable heart.  We may be tempted to put the best foot forward for Jesus.  But Jesus knows us.  He does not want us wearing masks.  He wants us to be authentic and share what is really going on in our lives.

As one grows in Ignatian prayer, that person would feel free to talk to anyone: God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary, the apostles and characters in the biblical stories.

Virtual Retreat

Another question about colloquy is about the possibility of whether the Christian might be deceiving oneself in such a conversation.  Am I just making this stuff up?

Here are few things to consider:

  1. God will cater his message to your ability to receive.  People ask what they should be receiving.  Don’t be too focused on hearing a voice.  A thought, an image, a Scripture verse, a feeling or a word to the heart might come to you.  Rejoice in what you receive from God because you allowed your heart to be open to Him.
  2. Any conversation is spontaneous and free-flowing.  The danger is for you or me to set expectations of how the prayer should go, how we should talk to Jesus, how Jesus should respond and how we should feel during the prayer.  The key tip is to surrender control of the conversation.  Give Jesus the space to talk.  He might answer with silence because sometimes silence is the best answer.
  3. Let God surprise you.  A friend will say or do something that catches our attention.  Wouldn’t Jesus do the same thing?  If you give Jesus the space to respond, he will answer in a way that surprises you.  A gesture, a word, a look and an action from Jesus can show that he is truly interacting with you.
  4. Do I really say, “I love you” to myself?  Really?  Most of our self-talk tend toward being negative.  Any affirmation are more likely: “I did a good job.”  “That went well.”  “Things will get better.”  When Jesus tells you that he loves you, it’s very likely from Jesus.

For Scripture passages and reflection questions, you can refer to the first and second parts of the Divine Mercy retreat.

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