The Magi and Contemplation

When the magi see the star and come to visit the Christ Child, they see the baby and fall down and worship God’s presence there. When I have prayed with this story imaginatively, my focus is rarely on the magi themselves. Almost inevitably my gaze turns to the baby Jesus. What could be more natural when there is a newborn infant in the room? When I was a young mother, I used to enjoy just […]

Setting Down Our Nets

When Jesus calls the fishermen Peter and Andrew, he tells them, “Come follow me.” In response, the new disciples experience a new desire and put down their nets to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:19–20). We, too, can also have various “nets” that can limit our capacity to follow Jesus more closely. One way to pray with this passage is to consider the question: What are my own nets? In the Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius names […]

Fr. James Martin on Ignatian Contemplation

Fr. James Martin, SJ, author of books including My Life with the Saints (10th anniversary edition) and Jesus: A Pilgrimage, recently shared with Sean Salai, SJ, some thoughts on prayer, specifically Ignatian contemplation. Salai: Beginners in Ignatian contemplation sometimes struggle to distinguish between what comes from God and what comes from their own heads when they use their imagination to pray. As a spiritual director and retreat master, what do you say to them? Martin: […]

A Long, Loving Look at the Real

Jesuit theologian Walter Burghardt once described contemplation as taking a “long, loving look at the real.” That sounds lovely. But what does it mean for you and me—people who most likely are not preachers, Jesuits, or philosophers? Let’s take that phrase in three parts: long, loving, and look at the real. Long. This is a sustained gaze, not a glance. It requires time, but it also requires focused attention. So whether I am looking at […]

Sight Is the Seed of Contemplation

The Examen begins with an awareness of God’s presence, imagining God gazing upon us with love. It’s this gaze that taps us into the importance of our sense of sight. A large part of Jesus’ mission was helping people to see—physically and spiritually. Bartimaeus begs Jesus for the gift of sight, bringing him to faith in Christ. An entire chapter is devoted to sight and blindness in the Gospel of John. Jesus wants to open […]

To Be a Contemplative

Creighton University’s Division of Mission and Ministry produced a video explaining a bit about Ignatian contemplation and then leading the viewer in an experience of this form of prayer. Fr. Paddy Gilger, SJ, walks us through, as he says, “what’s it like to be with God—to be a contemplative.” “In our sense of being a contemplative in action, all we’re doing is practicing paying attention to this one who is trying to love us and […]

Lenten Meditation 3: Contemplating the Gospels

In contemplating the Gospels during Lent, take this advice to heart: Be sure to take Jesus’ humanity seriously even as you reflect on his divine attributes. God took humanity seriously enough to become one of us, and we do God a disservice if we downplay what God has done in becoming human. When we use our imagination in contemplating Jesus, we trust that God’s Spirit will use it to reveal something about Jesus that is […]

Opening Our Eyes to Contemplation

I’ve recently begun a year-long course on spiritual direction. The purpose of the course is not just to learn how to listen to and companion someone in his or her journey with God, but to become a contemplative. Contemplation is a word we tend to associate with the mystics and the saints of yore who experienced fantastic visions. We make it into something complicated, as if becoming a contemplative takes years of prayer and effort. […]

One Man’s Experience with Ignatian Contemplation

What has been your experience with Ignatian contemplation? Positive? Needs practice? Never tried? John (Juancito) Donaghy describes his experience with imaginative prayer: I read the scripture and, without planning, I felt myself as John within the womb of Elizabeth. I sensed something – the presence of Jesus – and jumped for joy. Ever since that time I find myself reading the scriptures in a different way, a way also influenced by my experience with the […]

Imaginative Contemplation with Pray-as-You-Go

Pray-as-You-Go has released the second in a planned series of imaginative contemplation exercises. Listen to it below; it’s the story of the woman with a hemorrhage. You may recall that’s the Gospel story that finds Jesus in a crowd, but asking “Who touched me?” when power goes out from him. An exercise based on Jesus and Zacchaeus is also available, and Jesus and Bartimaeus is expected next. If you’re receiving this via e-mail, click through […]

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