God’s Magnanimous Love and the Suscipe

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When I first discovered Ignatian spirituality more than 15 years ago, I came to it with a deeply rooted belief that what God wanted from me would not necessarily be what I wanted for myself. I don’t know how this belief got planted into my mind and heart, but it was there, and it was not budging. I believed God wanted me to serve others. I believed God wanted me to put others first. But I also believed that in doing so, I had to put my own wants and desires last.

One of the first Ignatian prayers that I heard confirmed all this for me: the Suscipe. When I first heard this prayer, I heard a complete offering of St. Ignatius and his life to God. After all, it’s present in the very first line: “Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess.” To me, stepping newly into Ignatian spirituality, this prayer confirmed what I believed: My whole life is to be an offering, even if that offering doesn’t make me happy.

It took time for me to realize that the Suscipe was a prayer that came at the end of the Spiritual Exercises for a reason. This offering of our lives in service to God and others was not Ignatius’s starting point. Instead, he started by fostering a belief that we are loved by God no matter what. He started with an acknowledgement that this love offered to us by God is so magnanimous that it means that God never wants us to suffer (even though, as imperfect humans surrounded by other imperfect humans, we often do). God’s love is so magnanimous that God plants within each of us deep desires and then works hard to give us all we need to pursue them in this life.

Only then, fortified by this magnanimous love of God, does the Suscipe make sense. Only after the idea that we are loved, cherished, and gifted with our deepest desires takes root in us, can the desire to love God just as magnanimously begin to grow. Only after we accept the idea that God does want us to pursue happiness and consolation in this life, can the desire to help others do the same flourish.

Lord, I thank you
for planting within me
the deep desire
to be creative.

It took me years
to understand,
no, to believe,
that my deepest desires
came from you.

Once I did,
what you planted
grew and flourished
and nourished my life.

Now, alive with the gift
of your magnanimous love,
help me offer
the light,
the water,
the nourishment needed
so that what
you planted in others
may grow and flourish
and set the world aflame.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for a nourishing reflection and prayer. I often read dotmagis blog and your blog as well. God bless you today and always.

  2. Gretchen… please pray for my nephew ..a ‘Jesuit’ graduate… who needs God’s light …His loving, healing touch…as he is a homeless, heroin addict in Dallas. He has no one except me and I live 1700 miles away.

    Holy Spirit..
    enlighten him,
    guide him,
    strengthen him,
    console him,
    Holy Spirit..
    invade his mind,
    open his eyes,
    open his ears,
    dwell in his heart and soul,
    touch him,
    have mercy on him,
    God Our Father,
    Lord Jesus Our Savior
    Holy Spirit Our Advocate
    have mercy on him,
    forgive him,
    save him,
    for I believe ..
    all that I have and cherish..
    ..and I cherish and love Shane..
    I surrender him to You,
    to be guide by Your Will
    Your grace, Your Love,
    are what he needs ..
    I ask these for him.

  3. So beautifully written, and your prayer is just perfect! Thank you for expressing what many (me) of us may felt. How can we go out to the world, unless we feel the love, care and mercy of God for us first?

  4. Thanks Gretchen for saying so many good things in few words. Deep desires planted by God are bound to strike roots, grow, and bear fruit for the service of humanity – of course under the supportive eyes of the Divine Planter.

  5. Reminds me of the connection the 12-Step recovery program(s) have to Ignatian principles. Can’t have a spiritual awakening (Step 12) without a loving God (Steps 2 & 3; Tradition 2). Must be why I feel so safe and cozy in both practices.

  6. Thank you for the reminder that the Suscipe comes at the end of the Spiritual Exercises. This prayer has had such an impact on me that it is part of my reflection and meditation time every morning.

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