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 passages below (from 1 Kings and Matthew’s Gospel), and finally, go through Father VanHeusen’s spiritual exercise.
A reading from the Book of Kings
The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon answered: “O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?
Are you bold? Do you ask for wisdom like Solomon?
The LORD was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: “Because you have asked for this — not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right— I do as you requested.
Do you seek riches and honors and other worldly things? Or do you seek wisdom?
I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (13:44-46)
Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
The Gospel of the Lord
1) A monk named John Cassian explained that the proximate goal of the spiritual life was “purity of heart.” The beatitude he refers to states, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” Are you so bold to believe that you will see God’s glory dwelling within? Note: the gift of infused contemplation is a work of God and beyond our natural ability. However, we can prepare ourselves through prayer and penance to receive this gift. Do you spend time daily in prayer? Particularly mental prayer/ meditation? Do you spend time in adoration? Do you read the world of God daily and allow it to feel your heart with light? Make a commitment to set time aside for prayer, otherwise you will never receive contemplation.
2) Take the Gospel reading, and imagine that the fire of Divine love lies within your heart. Imagine that fire overcoming your fears and limitations and filling you with light. Have a conversation with Jesus about this.
3) Use your imagination to consider each of the images presented in the Gospel. Imagine each scenario and the joy you would experience when you finally came to see God dwelling within. Talk with Jesus about each one.
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.