Note: This is part 10 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 the body of the prayer, St. Ignatius of Loyola offers two options: contemplation or meditation. This entry will deal with Ignatian Meditation.
Ignatian meditation works well with poetic passages (Psalms) or words of wisdom (Proverbs) or words of teaching (Sermon on the Mount).
Through this prayer method, St. Ignatius seeks to engage our intellect, our will and our memory. The danger we have in praying over Scripture is to treat that time as an intellectual exercise. Oh, what does that word mean? What is the author intending? Those are good questions. However, prayer is not just an intellectual exercise. It’s meant to engage the whole person.
While reading the Scripture passage, a truth will come to you. For example, Jesus as Messiah, Savior, a brother and a friend. Or the truth reveals something about you: I’m loved, I’m worthy, I’m cared for. Scripture is infinitely rich. Many truths are packed into a certain passage.
My suggestion: After reading the Scripture, pick the truth that appeals to you strongly or repels you strongly. In either case, God wants to meet you there. Something in us was moved by that truth.
St. Ignatius offers three steps in Ignatian mediation to savor that truth.
- I call to mind this truth, with love.
- I ponder it, with love.
- I embrace it, with love and desire.
Interestingly, St. Ignatius recommends that love appears in each of the steps. To love requires the use of our will. The intellect and the will work in tandem and prevent prayer from being an intellectual exercise.
The last step of embracing the truth also squashes the notion of prayer as an intellectual exercise. All intellectual problems are dealt with and later put aside. In prayer, the Christian engages the Truth (God), receives Him and makes Him part of our life. That is all symbolized by the embrace. The truth we have prayed over should make us better. That interior change affects how our actions in the world. We live and act in truth, goodness and love because we have met God in prayer.
May you reap great fruit through the Word of God.
- Psalm 139: “For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
- Proverbs 31: The virtuous woman is praised.
- Matthew 5-7: Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount.
- How often do you treat prayer as an intellectual exercise?
- Which truth about God, Jesus, Christianity or you consoles you? How often do you want to bring to prayer?
- Which teaching do you have difficulty with? How can you learn more about it and bring it to Jesus in prayer?