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Palm Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spiritual Practice: Ignation Prayer

On this Palm Sunday we enter Holy Week and the Passion of our Lord Jesus. All around the world Christians will pray, read Scriptures, meditate, and gather in worship to remember Jesus. Ignatian Prayer is a proven and powerful way of entering into the days of Holy Week, or any Gospel story.

In his 16th century classic, Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius of Loyola en-courages the spiritual practice of seeing a Gospel story with the mind’s eye. Just as we might call up a memory or think of someone we love, so we can enter into a scene from Jesus’ life. In this form of prayer we use our imagination to place ourselves on the scene in order to see, touch, and hear the action. We seek “the Word exposed in the words”, to use the phrase of theologian Karl Barth.

Because we are focusing on the Upper Room Discourse in these daily reflections, we will use Ignation Prayer today to help us enter into that Upper Room. Ignatius asks us to use all our senses to do this and pay close attention to what we are seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting, as we move about the room.

  • Begin by asking the Holy Spirit, to teach us and reveal Jesus to us.
  • Read below, two or three times, the opening of the Upper Room Discourse:
    Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him“ (John 13:1-5).
  • Having read the words, now enter into the story. Smell the scents of a Passover meal; hear the sounds from the street below; watch Jesus as He goes from disciple to disciple washing their feet; listen to what Jesus and the disciples are saying. Become part of the story. Let yourself interact with them. Let yourself see Jesus coming to you.
  • Allow yourself time; do not rush.
  • What do you want to say to Jesus about what you are seeing and hearing?
  • What do you sense that Jesus might be saying to you as you linger in the Upper Room?
  • When you are ready, mark the end of your Ignation prayer with The Lord’s Prayer or The Our Father. Here are some other Gospel passages that you might want to use in Ignation Prayer during this Holy Week : Luke 23:32-34; 23:39-43; Matthew 27:45-51.

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