Arts & Faith: Advent—Fourth Sunday Imaginative Prayer Exercise

Arts & Faith: Advent

Each week of Advent, we’ll provide an Ignatian prayer for you, inspired by a video from Arts & Faith: Advent.

The video and prayer for the Fourth Week of Advent, Cycle C, is based on Luke 1:39–45. The art is Henry Ossawa Tanner’s The Visitation.

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 mind and wait off to the side for now.

The You of the Future

In your imagination, you are sitting in your favorite room in your home. It’s also your favorite time of day. Items of comfort are around you—food and drink, or books, pillows, photos, magazines, or projects you enjoy working on. This is a place where you can be busy in quiet ways while your mind and heart do their meditating. You think about the future, about your loved ones, about plans for you and your family, and about the matters that worry you day to day. In this space, all of these thoughts turn into prayer.

Today, though, your heart seems to beat a bit faster than usual. You expect something to happen, but you’re not sure what it is. You know only that it is good, something to anticipate with hope and happiness. As you dwell in your favorite space and do your work and your thinking and praying, you feel the anticipation grow.

Then you feel a breeze, the kind of shift in the air that happens when someone opens a door. You can hear footsteps lightly making their way to you. This is what you’re waiting for! Who will it be? What will be the news? What will happen when you meet?

A shadow falls across the open doorway, and you look up. Your heart beats faster, and when you recognize the face and form, your breath catches. This can’t be happening—is it possible?

The person you see is . . . you. You have entered the room, and your smile glows. You look at yourself and know that this is a holy moment, because you are given the ability to see something about your own future. The you who has entered comes over to the you who is seated, and your eyes meet. You feel a vibration of joy in the room. You behold your own face glowing with faith and contentment.

You realize then, that the you of the future has come with news about a wonderful gift you have for the world. It is a gift that God has been forming in your life for many years. And in the not-so-distant future you will be asked to give this gift to the world, to help God’s kingdom become real on earth.

As the two of you—the two yous—draw closer, you listen for news of this gift. What do you possess that God is preparing for others? How will you become part of the bigger plan for God’s love in the world?

Concluding Prayer

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.

About Vinita Hampton Wright 173 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

5 Comments on Arts & Faith: Advent—Fourth Sunday Imaginative Prayer Exercise

  1. Vinita,
    Thank you. You hit my heart, as a reminder of friends who stayed and those who have turned away. We have sat at each other’s tables for more than 50 years. We are blessed. At a weekend retreat years ago, some of the retreatents paid us this compliment: “You will know they are Christians by their love.” This has never left my mind.

  2. Vinita, this passage moved me and the questions challenged my spirit. I believe that God and I have been developing my soul, that piece of me that makes me be me. Some call this personality. But your soul’s personality is what you deliver to the world. Through this sharing you give the world what is special and unique that only you could give. All life matter. Nothing is insignificant for all our lives fit together,someway,to co-create what will be. Think of it, we are alive because our ancestors,since ancestor 1,survived to procreate and the children lived to procreate and so on. And now we are here with a role to prepare for during this Advent. To follow Jesus.

    • Jesuit Fr. Joe Tetlow says that God creates us “momently,” and I love this concept of always becoming by God’s grace. Peace to you this Christmastide!

  3. Vinita, you found many of us in our tenderest thoughts as we have been reflecting upon and praying your beautiful and compelling piece for the Arts and Faith website….the painting by Tanner is itself a rare gift as well as the art docent’s challenge to us with her beautiful voice. The gestures and content of the gorgeous painting fill us with joy!

    But your invitation to view The You of the Future furthers the treasure of this post, a gem! You are the most incredible gift and you offer us time and time again ideas that are so unique and hopeful to ponder and pray, with deep sincerity of heart. I can’t imagine having received a more precious gift. My dear friend Alba sent it to me earlier and I have already forwarded it to others. i immediately took a long walk on his fresh Advent morning to just let my thoughts continue to stir with the beauty of the picture you too painted but with words! With deep gratitude!

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