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 watch the video, then prayerfully read the two readings below for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, and finally go through Father VanHeusen’s spiritual exercise.
At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. Then the LORD said to him, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD — but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake — but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire — but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.
Imagine the Lord whispering to you… what do you think he wants to say?
When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
The word of the Lord.
The Church invites us to read this gospel in the light of the first reading. Imagine the Lord’s voice speaking with the same gentle strength as his voice in the first reading. Imagine that in the midst of the storm, his voice is almost like a whisper charged with power.
After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”
The Gospel of the Lord
1) Use your imagination to recreate the scene in the first reading. Try and connect the whispering voice of the Lord in the first reading with how you imagine that same voice within yourself. Perhaps, use your imagination to have a conversation conversing with the calm, gentle voice of Wisdom speaking within.
2) Imagine the storm clouds of your life, and imagine the Lord’s strong, gentle voice speaking in the midst of your fears and anxieties. How might he whisper to you in the midst of your concerns?
3) Imagine the voice of the Lord as if it were a narrator discussing the various memories and scenes from your life. Imagine your life as a movie and the Lord talking to you about what is going on. Imagine his voice like a whisper.
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.
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