June 16, 2010


During my first year of seminary, I met with a spiritual director who was well versed in Ignatian Spirituality. He suggested that I use one of the practices in my prayer life and begin reading scripture with my imagination.

I can't find the link for these instructions, but I found them online somewhere as I've recently engaged in the practice again.

Praying as St. Ignatius
1. Sit quietly for a few minutes, relax and breathe deeply.
2. Spend a brief time in prayer. Offer thanks, and ask for guidance as you open yourself to the scripture and to God’s presence.
3. Choose a scriptural passage that speaks to your needs or turn to a passage you have previously selected. Stories from the life of Jesus work particularly well for this exercise.
4. Read the scripture slowly and prayerfully, perhaps as if for the first time. Pay attention to details of the story that make it come alive. Note descriptions of people, setting, situation, and emotions. Pay attention to images or words that grab your attention.
5. Close your eyes as the group leader reads the passage again. As you listen, use your imagination to recreate the story. With your senses, be aware of the time of day, the landscape or buildings, weather conditions, colors, odors, sounds, voices, moods, and emotions. Try to get a sense of the setting, even if you cannot clearly see actual images.
6. After the second scripture reading, remain quiet with eyes closed as you continue meditating on what you have heard. Imagine that you enter the scene as one of the characters or an observer of the events. Who are you? Where are you standing or sitting? How do you feel as you become this person in the story? What are your reactions as the story continues to unfold?
7. If the story includes an interaction of one of the characters with Jesus, are you that person? What happens as you encounter Jesus? If you are an other character in the story, how do you feel as you observe Jesus interacting with the other person? What does this interaction tell you about your relationship with Christ?
8. Now leave the scene in your mind, but remain in prayer. What did you learn and how did you feel about your experience? Share your responses and questions with God. Be still in God’s presence and listen for additional insights.
9. Close your meditation time with a brief prayer of thanks. Move around, open your eyes, and return to the present. You may want to write about your experience in your journal, or share it with a spiritual friend or support group.

I find it to be really helpful during this season of Ordinary Time when the lessons are so often narratives without the help of a teaching from Jesus. So I engage a character: Simon the Pharisee last week; the townspeople this week; etc. and imagine their reactions, the thoughts running through their minds.

This week as I ponder the townspeople, I wonder if they don't ask Jesus to leave hoping that they will take the demoniac with him. As it is, he is a constant reminder of how poorly human beings can treat one another. His mere presence reminds them of their own demons. He proclaims God's dream without saying a word.

What character do you identify with? Where do you fit in the story of Jesus healing the demoniac? Try Ignatian Reading, it can really be quite helpful.

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