In today’s Gospel reflection, Father Ian VanHeusen presents a spiritual exercise based on the readings for Sunday’s Mass.

St. Ignatius of Loyola explains, “By the term “Spiritual Exercises” is meant every method of examination of conscience, of meditation, of contemplation, of vocal and mental prayer, and of other spiritual activities.

“For just as taking a walk, journeying on foot, and running are bodily exercises, so we call Spiritual Exercises every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and, after their removal, of seeking and finding the will of God in the disposition of our life for the salvation of our soul.”

This week, we invite you to first prayerfully read the Gospel for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, then watch the video, and finally go through Father VanHeusen’s spiritual exercise.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (13:1-9)

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.

Identify areas of your life that have not born fruit. Do you see any patterns with those kinds of pursuits? What did you learn?

“Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.

Identify areas of your life that seemed promising, but tended to teeter out over time. Do you see any patterns with those kinds of pursuits? What did you learn?

“Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.

Identify areas of your life in which your attachments to self and your fears preventing you from flourishing. Do you see any patterns with those kinds of pursuits? What did you learn?

“But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

The Gospel of the Lord

Spiritual exercise:

1) Go through the three types of patterns of failures that are found in this passage. With a sense of stillness and consolation, try to learn from your mistakes. If this exercise leads to desolation, then consider changing the subject until you return to a place of faith, hope, and love.

2) Now imagine the areas that have born great fruit. Apply the same strategy as before, but seek to discover the pattern of your flourishing. How can you maximize those strategies to help you move with the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Have a conversation with Jesus about all of this.


If you would like to print out these questions, we have prepared a downloadable handout version of this Spiritual Exercise. Click the download button bellow.