In this Lenten series, Father Ian VanHeusen presents his weekly spiritual exercise based on the Sunday Readings to help us grow in our relationship with the Lord.
What is a Spiritual Exercise, you ask? St. Ignatius of Loyola writes, “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.”
We invite you to first prayerfully read the Gospel reading, then watch the video, and finally go through the Spiritual exercise.
The Third Sunday of Lent
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” – For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans. – Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water. I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews. But the hours is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes, he will tell us everything.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking with you.”
Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him. When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more began to believe in him because of his word, and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
Deeply, Uniquely Loved By God
1. Have you ever fallen in love? What was it like? Connect with the experience and write a description.
2. The following are suggestions for using your imagination to connect with Jesus:
A) Imagine you are the woman at the well. If you are a man or if you find it hard to re-create the scene, feel free to adapt the situation to best fit your station in life. You can do this by imagining other places where you might randomly run into someone such as the gym. Use your imagination to connect with the scene. Don’t worry about how historically accurate your mental representation is, but rather use your senses to re-create the scene as best as possible. Imagine the sights, the smells, the different sensory experiences. Then, imagine yourself having a conversation with Jesus based on the scripture. You can write out the scene or use journaling to help you concentrate.
Use these questions as a guide: What parts of your life do you keep hidden from Jesus? What does he tell you about those parts of your life? Does he reveal anything when you engage in this exercise?
B) Pick a word or phrase from the text, and create a series of associations. Imagine it is like a strain of thoughts in which you connect first with how you understand the concept, and then move to areas of your life that are connected with the concept. (This is an alternative to the imagination exercise for those who are not inclined to pray with their imagination.)
3. Have a conversation with Jesus based on what you have experienced.
If you would like to print out these questions, we have prepared a downloadable handout version of this Spiritual Exercise. Click the download button below.