27 November 2011

Introduction

Introduction

In 2004-2005, Antoinette, a classmate and I directed each other through the Spiritual Exercises during the Supervised Daily Life Workshop segment of the Spiritual Direction formation program. We met weekly to share our prayer experiences, ‘changing hats’ midway through the two-hour sessions.

I do not find that spontaneous vocal prayer comes easily. Because my companion worked and I was at home, I had more free time for preparation than she did. I also love to write. Prior to most of our meetings, I prepared a prayer which we read aloud together before we began our exchange. Sometimes, the perfect prayer or meditation jumped off the pages of a book I was reading and that became our opening prayer.

I still follow the same technique. Before meeting with a directee, I either search for an appropriate prayer written by one or another of my favourite spiritual authors or write an ‘opening’ prayer which we read together.

It has been suggested to me that I share some of the ‘home made’ prayers with others who may not find praying aloud without preparation as simple as most people seem to.

Because the same wording was often repeated, I have made some slight changes to the original prayers.

In the process of making the Spiritual Exercises we all pray with the same Scipture passages, but we are touched in many different ways. Each of us may, in fact, respond differently to the same passage each time we read it or hear it.

The following prayers encapsulate my reactions to some of the Bible passages that took me through the Spiritual Exercises process six years ago.

Barbara d’Artois
August 2011

Prayer for the First Meeting

First Meeting

Father, as we begin our journey through the Spiritual Exercises and seek to know your will and to work towards becoming the persons you are calling us to be, we ask you to be with us and to guide us. Please send your Spirit to bestow on us the gifts of wisdom, understanding and acceptance of your will; the courage to persevere when the going is rough; and an eagerness to answer your every call.
Please bless our time together and bless our daily prayer time over the coming week.
Help us to grow closer to your Son Jesus - ‘to know him more clearly, to love him more dearly and to follow him more nearly.’
May we become more and more grateful for all the gifts you have showered upon us.
We ask all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer for the Second Meeting

Second Meeting

Father, please bless our time together as we share our prayer experience over the past week. May we come to a deeper understanding of the wonder of your Creation and the role that we as human beings are called to play in the preservation of our natural world.
We praise you, we bless you, we reverence you and we stand in awe before you, Almighty Father. We thank you for the gift of life; for the many gifts of Creation which nourish our bodies and souls; and for the trust you have placed in us by making us stewards of our natural world.
Help us, Father, to savour the beauty and fruits of the earth without being unduly attached to the things we most enjoy or to worldly possessions.
May we never serve you or others with mediocrity, but strive always to fulfill the plan you had for us at the moment of our conception.
All this we ask through your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Prayer for the Third Meeting

Third Meeting

Father, once again we thank you for bringing us together for this time of sharing and of exploring the meaning of our prayer experience. We have reflected on the awful-ness of the banishment of Adam and Eve, whose sin of pride led to their exile from the Garden of Eden, where they had walked with you and grown close to you; and of persons whose lifelong selfishness and unconcern for others merited the loss of your loving presence for all time.
We are awe-filled by the knowledge that despite the many times we have said “NO” to you, you truly want us to be with you in your Kingdom forever.
Because your beloved Son, Jesus, died on the cross to save us, you give us ‘another’ chance ... again and again and again. Father, we thank you for your unconditional love and acceptance of us just as we are; for all the times your Spirit calls us to repentance; and for your ongoing forgiveness.
Please help us to be more sensitive to the wiles of the Evil One who tries to draw us away from you; to be open to hear your every call to serve you and others; and to be ever ready to answer, “Here I am. Lord. I come to do your will.” Amen.

Prayer for the Fifth Meeting


Fifth Meeting

Father, you have called us to become increasingly aware of the evil that permeates our world and of the devastating effects of sin on innocent people. Over the past week, you have given us a deeper understanding of the ways in which we have failed you and those whom we are called to serve, and of how in your goodness, you have continued to bless us despite our unworthiness.
We thank you, Father, for this opportunity to be led by St. Ignatius through some of the prayer experiences that changed
his life and deepened his relationship with you. May we be increasingly open to hearing your personal message to each of us.
Thank you for bringing us together to share the ways in which our hearts have been touched as we have read and meditated on the week’s Scriptural passages. Your Word is no less meaningful in our contemporary world than it was 2,000 years ago and more. Please send your Spirit to guide us as we listen to each other and together, search for new meaning in your call to us to become holy as your are holy.
Bless our time together, Lord, and show us the changes we need to make in our lives so that we may become the persons you are calling us to be. Amen.


Prayer for the Seventh Meeting

Seventh Meeting

Lord Jesus, you have called us to reflect on the mysteries of your life on earth and through them, to come to know you more intimately.
We have made ourselves present to your Mother, Mary, when the angel Gabriel announced to her that your Father had chosen her to become the mother of the long-awaited Messiah. We have shared her moment of disbelief; listened to her hesitant question, ( “
How can this be, since I am a virgin?”); heard the angel’s words of reassurance; and stood in awe and wonder at the strength and courage with which Mary proclaimed, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”
As we leave the scene of the Annunciation and prepare to follow Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem and to witness your coming into the world, we ask you to send your Spirit upon us to give us new and enriching insights into the miracle of You, the Son of God, allowing yourself to be born into the world in just the same way as any other child. It is beyond our understanding that you should choose to be born, live and die for the salvation of all humanity.
May your Spirit guide us as we contemplate the Mystery of the Nativity. Please grant us the grace of knowing you more clearly, loving you more dearly and following you more nearly. Amen.



Prayer for the Eighth Meeting

Eighth Meeting

Lord Jesus, we have accompanied Mary and Joseph from their little home in Nazareth to the town of Bethlehem to fulfill their civic duty.
We have shared Mary’s discomfort as she rode a donkey over bumpy roads in the final days of her pregnancy; camped overnight along the roadside; and longed for a safe and sheltered place to bring you into the world as her time drew near.
We have been present at the scene of your Nativity... You, the Son of God, born in a humble stable; wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a bed of hay with only the breath of animals to give you warmth.
We have felt your Mother’s pain as she laboured; shared her joy when she held you in her arms and looked upon you ... the perfect completion of the Spirit’s breath upon her nine long months earlier.
We have witnessed shepherds coming from their fields to worship you .... travelled with Wise Kings from the East who followed the star that led them to you ... knelt with them as they paid homage to you, the long-promised King of God’s chosen people.
We have rejoiced at your birth, stood in awe and wonder that you, the Son of God should choose to leave your heavenly Kingdom to share our humanity. You lived as we live; experienced joy, disappointment and every other human emotion; knew hunger, thirst, physical pain and the challenge of temptation by the Evil One ... and ultimately, died on a wooden cross to save us from our sins and the finality of death.
What can we offer you, Lord, as special gifts to commemorate your birth?
As we enter the season of Advent, may we find joy and hope in the anticipation of your coming. May this be a time of total giving of ourselves ... our time, our energies, our possessions to help those who are less fortunate than we are.
May we respond to your every call with a loving and joyful ‘Yes’ (like Mary’s!) and with your help, be instrumental in bringing a little peace into our small corner of the world.
Bless this, our time together, Lord, as once again, we share our prayer experience. Help us to know you more intimately, love you more deeply and follow you more closely. Amen.

Prayer for the Ninth Meeting

Ninth Meeting

Lord, we ask your blessing on our time together as we share new insights we have gained on our journey with you in the early stages of your life.
We have seen you held closely in your Mother’s arms ... fast asleep on a bed of hay ... perhaps wide-eyed and sucking a tiny thumb as great kings from afar knelt and worshipped you.
We have accompanied you to the Temple for the ritual of your presentation to your Father and witnessed the joy of Simeon and Anna, who recognized you as the living Sign of God’s promise to the world..
We have shared your rugged trek on a donkey into the darkness of a chilly night as you were taken from your humble birthplace to an alien land. Your future was unknown, but we felt secure in the knowledge that Mary, your Mother and Joseph, your foster-father would keep you safe.
Poverty, humility and the barest of necessities were touchstones of your entry into the world. A stable for a few days ... then homeless with itinerant parents to protect you, the Son of God, from the dangers of the world.
We love you, Lord and we offer ourselves to you.. As we continue to share your life story, may it become intertwined with our own and may we come to know you more intimately. Help us, Lord, to become holy as you are holy.
Amen.

Prayer for the Eleventh Meeting

Eleventh Meeting

Lord Jesus, we thank you for this special time you have given us to share with one another.
We have reflected on the wonder of you, the Son of God, humbly seeking Baptism at the hands of your cousin John as you began your ministry of spreading the Good News. We have heard your Father proclaim, “This is my Son, the beloved. In him I am well pleased.”
We have reflected on the gift of our own Baptism, through which you called us to become your followers, and we pray that as we follow your paths, we may become worthy to hear those same words from the Father, “You are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.”
As we read of your forty days and nights in the desert, we realized that in your humanity even you, the Son of God, were not spared the temptations of the Evil One. We pray that your Spirit will give us the strength and courage to reject Satan and his promises of worldly wealth and honour as you did, and that the Spirit will remind us in times of temptation that we have already found life’s greatest treasure: the wonder and joy of union with you.
Hold us close to your heart, Lord, as we continue our spiritual journey and trust you to lead us safely home to your Kingdom. Amen.

Prayer for the Twelfth Meeting

Twelfth Meeting

Lord Jesus, we come together to review and share the movements of your Spirit within us as we prayed your Beatitudes and reflected on the readiness of your disciples to answer your invitation:
“Follow me.” We ask you to be with us to guide our interpretations of your Word.
The guidelines you set before your disciples, which might be called Be-Attitudes, challenge us to become free of undesirable attachments; to trust in your all-encompassing love in times of sorrow; to be humble, just and merciful; and to seek as best we can to introduce an aura of peace into our world. Just as you gathered dedicated disciples who left their homes, families and livelihood in answer to your call, so do you desire that we be ever ready to say, “Here I am, Lord” when you speak those same words to us in the silence of our hearts.
Please send your Spirit to be with us that we may be aware of the graces you have bestowed on us; filled with gratitude for all the undeserved gifts we have received; and eager to receive new insights and direction from you over the coming week.
Please bless our families and keep them safe and well, Lord.
We thank you for loving us unconditionally and we pray that we may become the persons you are calling us to be. Amen.

Prayer for the Sixteenth Meeting

Sixteenth Meeting

Lord Jesus, you have shown us that you sent your apostles to spread the good news freely and without any expectation of reward. You cautioned them to fulfill their mission with simplicity, leaving behind all of their possessions and trusting that their needs would be met. This speaks of detachment from earthly things, to which you call all of us even in today`s world.
You gave your disciples the power to heal every type of disease and the courage to venture forth into the unknown in your name. You did not promise them that their task would be easy.
You do not call us to perform miracles, Lord, but you do call us to be your presence to the people we meet who are suffering physical, emotional or spiritual pain. You call us into the unknown and promise that you will be with us always.
The story of you feeding a crowd with two small fish and five loaves with the help of your disciples shows us that as part of your human family, you desire that we show compassion to the needy. Yes, we can pray for those who are hungry, homeless, lonely, grieving. But you ask us to work with you to ease their plight. Just as you said to your disciples, “You give them something to eat,”so do you ask us to provide in any way we can for those who have nothing: to share our own `loaves and fish`with food banks, indigents, homeless and out-of-work brothers and sisters. You call us to be your eyes, your ears, your hands and your feet in our world today.
Help us, Lord, to hear your every call and to respond with enthusiasm, ``Here I am, Lord.``

Prayer for the Seventeenth Meeting

Seventeenth Meeting

Lord Jesus, bless us as we share the movements of your Spirit within us during our contemplation of the mysteries of your rejection by people in your home town and the chaotic scene in which you drove people out of the holy temple when it was turned into a market place.
We thank you for the new insights we have gained and for the graces we have received through the power of your Spirit. Guide us, we pray, as we seek to know you more intimately and help us to live the values that you lived and taught.
You call us to hear the words spoken by the prophet Isaiah which you proclaimed as your own in the temple in Nazareth as a personal calling to each of us. May we always remember that “the Spirit of the Lord is upon us,” and may we be open to spreading the good news to those who are searching for meaning in their lives. May we help them to find, through prayer, release from all that binds them to a painful past. Teach us to listen attentively to their stories and with the help of your Spirit to draw them to reflect on your life story as a source of comfort and encouragement.
Help us to be your presence to our families, friends, neighbours, co-workers and fellow parishioners. May we be signs of your peace, love and acceptance of all people.
We pray that we will come to know you more clearly, love you more dearly and follow you more nearly. Amen.

Prayer for the Eighteenth Meeting

Eighteenth Meeting

Lord, Jesus, as we contemplated the mystery of your Transfiguration, we shared the wonder of the apostles who beheld “the splendor of God “ shining on your face and heard the voice of your Father proclaiming you as “My Son, the beloved.” Despite the momentary fear precipitated by such extraordinary happenings, those who witnessed your transformation and listened to the voice that came out of the cloud were reassured by your admonition, “Do not be afraid.”
Once again, Lord, you predicted that you would die, but you also spoke of being “ raised from the dead,” which must have added consolation and hope to their feelings of sadness.
As human beings, we too experience sadness when death confronts us, although faith tells us that death is a transition into a new and everlasting life with you. We long to behold your beloved face, Lord and to be with you.
We were touched by the tears you shed as you stood outside the tomb of your friend Lazarus. You wept over your personal loss as well as over the pain of those who were grieving. Just as you raised Lazarus from the dead, so will you raise us up to be with you in your Father’s Kingdom.
We ask you to strip away all that binds us to earthly things that we may experience small but meaningful resurrections in our daily lives.
Please, Lord, bless this, our time of listening and sharing and send your Spirit to shower us with gifts of wisdom, understanding and insightfulness.
Bless our families, Lord, and hold them in the shadow of your wing. Amen.

Prayer for te Nineteenth Meeting

Nineteenth Meeting

Lord Jesus, as we journey through the events of your life, you reveal yourself to us as God and as a human being. We have seen you confronted with everyday tasks and situations like those we face; temptation by the Evil One; the challenge of helping people in trouble; rejection by those who knew you well; scorning of your values; awareness of the devastating physical and emotional pain of others ... the death of a cherished friend.
We are inspired by your love, compassion, caring and forgiveness; your unquestioning acceptance of your Father’s will; your strength, trust and courage in the face of adversity; your willingness to accept all people, even sinners; your selflessness and lack of worldly attachments; and the humility and simplicity which characterized your entire life. Help us, we pray, to become more and more like you.
Now, we prepare to accompany you on the Way of the Cross. May we feel sorrow and shame as we stay with you in the suffering you endured to atone for our sins and gift us with the promise of eternal life with you. Our society tends to avoid dealing with the concept of suffering and death. Sometimes we take the death of a loved one almost as an affront. We react with shock, feelings of despair, even asking, “WHY, Lord?” Yet we know that life is fragile and our earthly days are numbered.
Please grant us the grace of being truly present to you as you are mocked and derided; scourged; crowned with thorns; forced to carry the weight of our sins on your shoulders; stumble and fall; witness your Mother’s pain; are stripped of your clothing and your dignity; hang nailed to a wooden cross like any common criminal; and die in anguish. Help us to fully experience the faith, hope and trust in your Father that enabled you to say, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Amen.

Prayer for the Twentieth Meeting

Twentieth Meeting

Lord Jesus, we ask you to bless us as we share our thoughts, inner feelings and prayer experience.
We have observed you with your disciples at the Last Supper; seen you institute the Sacrament of the Eucharist which ensured your presence in the world until the end of time; accompanied you and waited with you during your Agony in the Garden; seen you arrested like any common bandit after Judas’ kiss of betrayal; and followed you when you were led away by an angry throng eager to see you put to death.
We have become more aware of your pain, loneliness and sense of abandonment by those whom you loved and trusted; your very human fear of suffering and death; and your indomitable acceptance of your Father’s will .
As we continue our journey with you through your Passion and death, we ask for the grace of courage, steadfastness, compassion, empathy and deeper understanding of your unconditional gift of yourself for the salvation of humanity, Help us to become more aware that through our sinfulness, we have contributed to the weight of the cross that you carried to Calvary and to your death on that cross. May we never waver along the way, Lord, for we desire to be with you until you take your final breath.
As we accompany you, may we grow in strength and in determination to never shrink from being fully present to others in their moments of pain. Amen.

Prayer for the Twenty-First Meeting

Twenty-First Meeting

Dear Lord, please send your Spirit to fill us with your divine light and to give us wisdom, understanding and an awareness of the insights you have given us as we followed you to Golgotha.
You have shown us that even as you suffered betrayal and denial by your closest friends; underwent physical, emotional and spiritual torment; and were subject to the sense of alone-ness, apprehension and fear that often paralyzes us, you never lost faith in your Father
. You placed yourself in his hands and said, “Thy will be done.” You lived ... and died ... with hope and trust. Grant us, please, the same hope and trust so that we will respond to your every call.
Lord, you are the way, the truth and the life. May we follow the ways you have taught so that our lives will have meaning for ourselves and for all those whose lives we touch. May we be guided by truths, for it was lies that led to your condemnation and your crucifixion. May our lives be so entwined with yours that death will hold no threat, for your death ensured that we will enter into eternal life with you.
We ask your forgiveness, Lord, for all the ways we have contributed to your pain. We know that even as you gaze upon us with love and compassion, our acts of betrayal added to the weight of your cross.
Bless us, Lord, and give us courage as we stand at the foot of your cross to witness your death and as we watch you being laid in the dark tomb. Help us to be
there for your Mother in her time of grieving, for truly a sword pierced her heart as she beheld your agony.

Prayer to the Twenty-Second Meeting

Twenty-Second Meeting

Lord Jesus, please send your Spirit to enlighten us as we share the ways in which you have spoken to us in our daily prayer. May we be inspired to recognize the as yet
unheard messages of your Spirit in our hearts, for sometimes we are slow to understand and to respond.
We have watched soldiers nail you to the cross; have seen you hanging upright for three long hours before death claimed you; and have felt devastated to know that as sinners, we share the blame for your senseless agony and death. We have become more aware of the many ways in which human beings inflict pain on one another .... and of the ways in which we hurt others.
Lord, we have seen your Mother holding your lifeless body, fulfilling the prophecy that a sword would pierce her heart. We have watched you being placed in the cold darkness of a tomb - alone at last! - but in death! We have walked away silently with John, your beloved disciple, and the women who remained with you to the end - sharing their sadness and despair.
We thank you, Lord, for the gift of your Mother as John’s and OUR Mother and as Mother of all the world. May we be graced with the special qualities that were Mary’s: faith, hope, trust, love, humility, goodness, unquestioning acceptance of your Father’s will.
Bless us as we continue to contemplate your Passion and death, Lord, and draw us ever closer to your heart. Amen.

Prayer to the Twenty-Third Meeting

Twenty-Third Meeting

Come, Holy Spirit, fill us with the fire of your love. We have celebrated the Feast of Pentecost and our hearts eagerly anticipated renewed reassurance of your ongoing presence in our lives. We were not disappointed. May we
always be aware of your presence within us. We ask you to gift us with wisdom, knowledge, understanding, patience, compassion, generosity and ever growing faith, hope and trust in Jesus, our Saviour. Help us as we seek to recognize your movements in our hearts; to make choices which will draw us closer to Jesus; and to live more fully our Father’s plan for us.
Lord Jesus, we have contemplated your first joyful reunion with Mary, your Mother, when you appeared to her in the glory of your Resurrection. We have shared her awe and wonder as she beheld you, still marked by the scars where your hands were nailed to the cross, but miraculously transformed into a vision of radiant beauty. We have experienced your touch as you enfolded Mary in your arms; heard your voice as you spoke words of love to her. We have witnessed your appearance to Mary Magdalene and her awe and wonder as well as her joy at being chosen to be a messenger of the good news of your Resurrection.
We thank you, Lord, for all that you are teaching us and for choosing us to be current day messengers of the Good News. We ask for your special blessings as we share the fruits of our prayer with each other and strive to recognize and understand all that you have revealed to us. Bless us as we contemplate the mystery of your resurrection and its meaning in our lives. Amen.


Prayer to the Twenty-Fourth Meeting

Twenty-Fourth Meeting

Lord Jesus, what delight we have known as we read of your appearances to your followers after your Resurrection! For those to whom you revealed yourself newly risen from the dead,
disappointment, disillusionment, sadness and despair were quickly transformed into awe, wonder and unimaginable joy. Your disciples believed that you were lost to them, but as you reveal yourself in the glory of your Resurrection, they remembered your promise - “The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death ... and after three days, he will rise again.”
We have shared Peter’s emotional journey from his first denial of you to his discovery of the empty tomb and his joy in the “good news” that your women followers proclaimed to him. We, too, have experienced times when we felt that we had ‘lost’ you ... and we have known the joy of being reunited with you through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
As we walked the Road to Emmaus with you and those two disciples whose lives had suddenly become meaningless because of your death, we became more aware of how
we fail to recognize you in everyday situations. St. Ignatius taught that we are to “find God” in all things ... in all people ... in all the events of our lives. Yet often, we hear your message, feel your touch or see your presence unknowingly, not realizing until long afterwards that another has been your loving presence in our lives. Help us, Lord, to find you in every moment of every day.
We ask you to bless this time of sharing which is your gift to us. Please send your Spirit to inspire us with new insights into whatever you are asking of us at this time and to give us the right words to express them to each other. Amen.

Prayer to the Twenty-Fifth Meeting

Twenty-Fifth Meeting

Dear Lord, we have observed your apostles’ reunion with you. Had we been there, we, too, would have been filled with awe and wonder. Most likely, we would have remembered your warning that you were going to be put to death and also your promise to rise again on the third day.
How would we have reacted, though, if we had been absent from that first appearance in the upper room? Would we, like Thomas, have said, “Do you expect me to believe that you have seen Jesus alive? Sorry ... I need proof. Unless I can touch the scars on his hands and feet, I can never believe that Jesus has actually risen.”
In our humanness, it is easy for us to forget your promises when we are bogged down with difficult situations and challenging decisions to be made. You tell us, “I am with you always” ... “Be not afraid, for I am with you ... “Fear not,” in many different ways. Yet sometimes we forget that you are in the centre of our inner turmoil waiting for us to turn to you for help. When we feel despondent, afraid or desperate we often tell ourselves, “Nothing will ever be the same again.” We ignore the reality of miracles. Yet you proved to your followers and you remind us that nothing is impossible to you.
Lord, when Thomas saw you with his own eyes, he believed. You chided him gently for his disbelief and proclaimed blessed all those who would believe in you without seeing you. We thank you for the gift of faith which tells us, despite our doubting moments, that you are always present in our lives. May we, even in our times of doubt, be always able to recognize and proclaim you as “Our Lord and our God.”

Prayer for the Twenty Sixth Meeting

Twenty-Sixth Meeting

Lord, once again we have journeyed through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius under the guidance of your Spirit and we have accompanied one another on that journey.
At times, prayer has been an awesome time of new insights, inspiration, a clear call to action, a keen desire to become more and more like you. At other times, prayer has been difficult and we have been unable to grasp what you might be asking of us.
As we shared our prayer experience, you have taught us that through attentive listening to one another and to the whisperings of your Spirit within us, we can share our journey by offering compassion, encouragement, affirmation, and often a clearer understanding of the words you speak to us deep in our hearts. You have graced us in many ways and we thank you for all the blessings we have received. May we always be your presence to those whom we encounter on our path. Thank you for calling us and trusting us to be your faithful messengers.
This past week, Lord, we have contemplated the wealth of gifts that you have bestowed on us: the gift of life; the beauty of Creation; food for our bodies, minds and souls; our strengths and talents; our intellectual capacity to learn; our physical senses which allow us to know and appreciate the wonders that surround us. We thank you for the gifts of faith, hope and trust in you and most of all, we thank you for your gift of salvation. You, our Lord and our God, suffered and died on the cross to save us from our sins. How can we ever thank you for loving us so much?
All that we are and all that we have, Lord, is total gift from you. We offer ourselves entirely to you. We praise you, we love you, we adore you and we long to be with you in your Kingdom for all eternity. Thank you, Lord, for being with us on our journey, for without you, we would surely lose our way. Amen.