The Earthen Vessel

Ignatian contemplation is most often associated with praying imaginatively with a scene from the Gospels, but I also find praying with particular simple images to be fruitful. One image that I have found helpful in prayer is the image of the “earthen vessel.” A former spiritual director introduced me to the hymn after a particularly powerful retreat with many graces. It expresses beautifully the paradox of being a human being, with all our frailty yet […]

“Intimate Understanding and Relish of the Truth”

From the Spiritual Exercises: The one who explains to another the method and order of meditating or contemplating should narrate exactly the facts of the contemplation or meditation.  Let him adhere to the points, and add only a short or summary explanation.  The reason for this is that when one in meditating takes the solid foundation of facts, and goes over it and reflects on it for himself, he may find something that makes them […]

Contemplating My New Bettas

Over the weekend, I went to Petsmart and brought home a new betta, in part because the betta that survived last month’s move from Princeton to Baltimore seemed lonely. I know I’m not making this up because he has been building big bubble nests, much bigger than the bubble nests he built right after the last betta went belly up. While I was at it, I bought a new betta bowl, one with a clear […]

Faith and Action

Ignatian spirituality owes a great debt to Aristotle. Not a surprise, really–Ignatius absorbed the theology of Thomas Aquinas, who imbibed the philosophy of Aristotle (by way of his teacher, Albert the Great, and in conversation with Muslim and Jewish philosophers, who had been using Aristotle for centuries). Here’s my thumbnail sketch; it’s on my mind because my freshman seminar is reading Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Everything we do is oriented toward some goal. We reach our […]

Ignatian Contemplation

Prayer using the imagination is a pillar of the Ignatian spiritual tradition. In its most common form, you take a passage from scripture, usually one of the gospels, and immerse yourself in it imaginatively using all the senses. You feel the heat of the day, smell the livestock and clouds of dust on the road, listen to Jesus’ words, watch his actions. It’s a way to engage the gospel personally, with all of our faculties. Creighton University’s online ministries […]

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