What are You Looking For?
Read, Pray and Abide in Scripture:
John 1: 35-42 ……..Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?”……………………..
As I abided in today’s gospel from John, I was reminded of the significance of the question that Jesus posed to the disciples, “What are you looking for?” That question has been and continues to be the topic of prayer for me often. I know now that I really am looking for what it takes to be a true disciple of Christ, but I often struggle with knowing what that is. I believe today that what I am really looking for in life is the path to find love, joy, peace, and happiness and I have come to understand that a personal relationship with Jesus is the answer. Sometimes I have taken the wrong paths looking for those things. I have not always sought God’s will, but often times thought I knew better than God and tried to do it on my own. At other times, I thought I was doing God’s will, but realized later that I had put false God’s before our triune God. In the more recent years, as the Holy Spirit has moved me to be much more deliberate in discerning the will of God in my life, I often find myself asking the following question, ”Is obliteration of self and disdain of the created world necessary to be a true disciple of Christ?” Do I really need to give it all up to be a true disciple?
I was first introduced to the Ignatian tradition in 1990 and fell in love with the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The Ignatian tradition puts the focus on mission and evangelization and has helped me to understand my call by doing just that. Coming from his own human conversion experience, St. Ignatius wrote the Spiritual Exercises to help us come to a deep understanding that we are loved sinners, choosing to serve and follow Christ out of generosity and gratitude for all that God has done for us, desiring to follow Jesus so closely even in the Passion to gain resolve to follow Jesus who died for each of us and to dedicate our whole self to serve Christ in the world (The Blackwell Companion to Christian Spirituality, Jill Raitt, p. 128). Two of the greatest gifts I have received from the Ignatian tradition that has helped me to be a true disciple of Christ is the Examen (see previous post about this and/or page 22 and 23 of The Southern Jesuit Magazine) and Imaginative Prayer.
The Examen (see previous post about this and/or page 22 and 23 of The Southern Jesuit Magazine) is sometimes referred to as the “granddaddy” of Ignatian prayers because it is a prayer that Ignatius would pray twice daily focusing on gratitude to God for all the gifts He has given. I have come to understand that this prayer was so important to Ignatius because of one of his mystical experiences about the Trinity where God revealed to him in a profound way the connection between creation and the incarnation. The whole point of the prayer is to never lose sight of the giver of all gifts.
My second gift was Imaginative Prayer. Being able to place myself in scripture scenes using Ignatian Contemplation which uses all five senses and my imagination was truly life changing. I was trained in undergraduate studies to be very analytical and often times find myself in my head, but Ignatian spirituality has helped me to get in touch with my affective side through the use of Imaginative Prayer and the Examen ( see previous post about this and/or page 22 and 23 of The Southern Jesuit Magazine).
Being part of the humanist tradition, it is all about finding God in all things in our human experiences wherever God places us. The key themes of my favorite tradition are as follows: Christian humanism, loved sinners, discernment of spirits(consolation/desolation), spiritual freedom(detachment), contemplatives in action(being for and with others), finding God in all things, and doing all things for the greater glory of God. This tradition has nurtured my soul primarily because of its humanist approach; and although I realize there are other traditions that speak to many, I stand in awe at the great gift to the universal church that St. Ignatius left behind in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
I truly embrace wanting to reproduce Jesus Christ in ourselves which I believe is all about practicing virtues and putting on the heart of Christ.
I have come to understand from praying with Imaginative Prayer and the Examen on an ongoing basis that although some purgation may be necessary from our Baptismal call in order to get rid of all that is not God, I believe it is not necessary to obliterate self or disdain the created world to be a true disciple of Jesus.
Using Imaginative Prayer, Place Yourself in the Gospel Scene and Reflect on the Following Questions:
- What are you looking for in life?
- Do you embrace wanting to reproduce Jesus Christ in yourself?
- What practices have you put in place to grow in holiness?
- How might you put on the heart of Christ?
- What might you be being called to purge in your life that is not of God?
Let’s bless one another by being in dialogue in the comments section……
“Taken from the The Hopeless Romantic: Falling in Love with God site of Patti Clement. www.patticlement.wordpress.com Used with Permission.”