The Consequences of Seeing

This story is inspired by John 9:1–41, the healing of the man born blind, and Mark 10:46–52, the healing of Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus and I talked about it. His healing was immediate. Not mine. I must have looked like a fool stumbling down the road, mud on my eyes. “What was the first thing you saw?” I asked Bartimaeus. “The face of Jesus. You?” “My own reflection in the pool.” As we sat looking—just looking—at the […]

Following Jesus into the Desert

After my baptism, I returned daily to the river and watched. When John said, “Behold the Lamb of God,” we applauded. Some danced. Some jumped into the water and splashed each other like children. People were so busy celebrating that they didn’t notice Jesus head toward the desert. I wondered why he left and followed. He walked for an hour and then stopped. I stayed back, hesitant to disturb him. He stood still, eyes closed, […]

Listening on the Sea of Galilee

Last year I was on a boat with 50 people on the Sea of Galilee. Admittedly, this makes praying pretty easy. Our joke during the Holy Land pilgrimage was that you didn’t really have to “imagine” anything, as you do in the Ignatian way of praying. All you had to do was open your eyes and look around! In the Ignatian tradition, people are encouraged to use their senses to picture themselves in a passage […]

Application of the Senses

St. Ignatius suggests that we can pray about our senses the way we pray about keeping the Commandments (Spiritual Exercises 247). More characteristically, he suggests using our senses to start contemplating: see the persons, hear what they say, and observe what they do (SE 106). These are traditional uses of the senses. One application of the senses, though, makes Ignatian contemplation quite distinctive. It is usually referred to as “the application of the senses,” and […]

Engaging the Senses Through Your Imagination

If you’re a regular church-goer, you’ve probably heard something like the following, oh, maybe a million times: “God loved us so much that he sent his only Son to us so he could save us from our sins.” Well, that’s just great. These words formulate a basic tenet of our Christian faith. Yet what do they really mean to you and to me? Even though we have some powerful words here—God, love, sins—they are just […]

Sight at Bethsaida

This story is inspired by Mark 8:22–26, the blind man of Bethsaida. It uses Ignatian contemplation and the imagination’s eye to reflect on the value of sight as we start our July exploration of encountering God through our senses. My friends are shaking me, rousing me out of bed. They insist on taking me to Jesus the Healer while he’s in town. “Listen! All he’ll do is touch you and you’ll see. Trust us; there’s […]

The Servant’s Healing

This story is inspired by Matthew 8:5–13, the healing of the centurion’s servant. The sickness? I never saw it coming. All of a sudden: slam. My body felt as if it had been hurled against a solid wall. Within a day, I could barely move. Without reason or cause. It just was. It was difficult for me because not only does the master of the house rely on me to run things smoothly, but also […]

Waking Up to the Risen Jesus

This story is inspired by the first contemplation in the Fourth Week of the Spiritual Exercises, the apparition of Christ to Mary (#218). Do you know that semiconscious state as you begin to awaken, when it’s possible to believe you’re still dreaming? That’s how I awoke the morning of my son’s Resurrection. I felt my Jeshua gently stroking my hair. I smiled and looked into his sweet face. Such a loving son! He was sitting […]

Recognizing the Risen Lord

Mary Magdalene stands at the empty tomb: how could she not weep, filling the well of her sorrow that capped her grief over the last three days? She notices a figure nearby, someone she can hardly see through her tired and streaming eyes. Humbly she pleads with him to be shown where the precious body of her Lord has been taken. As this stranger speaks her name, she is wild with the joy of recognition: […]

Arts & Faith: Easter Imaginative Prayer Exercise

Happy Easter! Today, we provide an Ignatian prayer for you, inspired by the Arts & Faith: Easter video. The video and prayer for Easter Sunday are based on John 20:1–9. The art is an early 13th-century stained-glass depiction of the Resurrection in Canterbury Cathedral’s Corona Chapel. Preparation Prepare for a period of meditation by sitting comfortably, closing your eyes, and breathing deeply for a moment or two. Allow any present concerns to move across your […]

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