FINDING GOD IN ALL THINGS
A retreat for a pilgrim in a busy world
Session Three: The King’s Call and Incarnation
Repetition and Repetitive Prayer (see handout)
Check-In Where are we today?
Faith Sharing on the following Scripture Reflections & Readings:
1. Luke 10:18 The “Sin of the Angels.” Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
2. 1 Cor 15: 21–22 “The Sin of Adam and Eve” “Death came through one man. . . All die in Adam.”
3. Genesis 3:1–19 Repetition
4. Luke12:13–21 “The Sin of One Person” “You fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul!”
5. Matt. 25: 31–46 Social Sin: Judgement of Nations
6. Matt 25.34–41 Meditation on Hell: “Come, you whom my Father has blessed… Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil an his angels.” 7. Psalm 136′’‘ God’s Love
Presentation: King’s Call and Incarnation (see handout)
In the Spiritual Exercises St. Ignatius often calls for repetition of a meditation or exercise. The practice to return to a particular meditation or gospel passage is not simply to do it over again. The hope is that by praying it over again we make it a more affective prayer, a prayer from the heart. Repetition is a way to deepen the prayer in our very being. There are a variety of forms of repetitive prayer in all faith traditions. Examples are Transcendental Meditation, the repetition of a mantra; the Rosary in our Western Catholic faith or in the eastern faith; the Jesus Prayer, which is sometimes called the Orthodox rosary, since beads are used for it. The Jesus prayer, a form of repetitive prayer, has a long tradition and is closely related to the presence prayer we learned earlier. (The story of the Way of the Pilgrim and the Jesus Prayer.)
The Jesus Prayer
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
The Jesus Prayer is one of the oldest of Christian prayers, dating in its original form to the words the two blind men cried out to Jesus in Matthew 20:31. The Orthodox Churches formalized it in the 5th century. Contained in the prayer is a uniquely clear summation of the Christian faith: Jesus the man is declared by name to be the Christ, the anointed one of God, as well as being the Lord of our lives; he is declared to be the Son of God, and therefore divine; he is declared to be in the position of judgment and mercy, and we confess to be sinners requiring His grace.
The practice of the Eastern Orthodox Churches calls for the Jesus Prayer to be used for the constant prayer that Saint Paul speaks of in his First Letter to the Thessalonians (5:17), where the prayer is kept on the lips and in the hearts of believers at all times. In its ultimate form, this prayer method is called Hesychasm. The Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions the Jesus Prayer:
2616 “Prayer to Jesus is answered by him already during his ministry, through signs that anticipate the power of his death and Resurrection: Jesus hears the prayer of faith, expressed in words (the leper, Jairus, the Canaanite woman, the good thief or in silence (the bearers of the paralytic, the woman with a hemorrhage who touches his clothes, the tears and ointment of the sinful woman. The urgent request of the blind men, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” or “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” has been renewed in the traditional prayer to Jesus known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Healing infirmities or forgiving sins, Jesus always responds to a prayer offered in faith: “Your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
Group Prayer: Jesus Prayer and “The Breath of Life”
Let us use the method of prayer we learned recently, relaxing ourselves, while praying the Jesus Prayer. As we breathe in we say to ourselves: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God” and as we breathe out we say: “Have mercy on me a sinner.” Repeat this prayer with each breath over and over again until the mind is clear and all we are aware of is our breathing.
Contemplating the Incarnation
I come to the moment of contemplating God becoming human. As always, I enter into God’s presence and feel God’s gaze rest on me, and I offer to God my whole self. Then I do three things:
First, I remember the “history” that I am praying about: The Holy Trinity knows the whole world of humankind and sees how we are ravaging the earth, making life terrible for one another, and turning many of ourselves into ruins. Out of God’s infinite and eternal love, the Father sends the Son down to enter into all this, to save it. And then they send the announcement to Mary.
Second, I compose myself, as I have done before, in this real world. I am utterly embedded in humanity and in all that goes on. And after seeing the whole of earth, I bring myself to Nazareth in Galilee, where Mary stays.
Third, I ask for what I want. What I want right now is a deep and intimate knowledge of Jesus. I want a strong love for Him. And I want to follow where He goes.
Then I cover these three points in some way or other—by fantasy, meditation, or contemplation—and after I have worked through them, I consider what it all means to me, to my life world, and to the whole of the human race.
First, I look at all the people on the earth— races and ethnic groups; some at desks and some at wars; they laugh, play, weep, struggle; they are infants, grown, dying. I watch God watching all this, and I wonder what God feels. I see Mary staying in Nazareth.
Second, 1 listen to the riot of sounds— music and machines; friends chatting and enemies reviling; typewriters and hand grenades; mobs and riots. I listen to God’s thoughts: “Let us save all these people. “ And I hear the announcement to Mary.
Third, I move into the frantic activities of earth—speeding, constructing, fighting, playing, blowing up buildings, riding horses, flying jets, all too often destroying human life or the humanity in living persons. 1 see God working busily, initiating the Incarnation, laboring among humankind. And I see the angel announce the message and Mary nod in acquiescence.
At the end, I will consider what I ought lo say to God, Mary and Jesus, who now lives forever in my humanness. As I always do, I close with an Our Father.
Food for the Journey
Session Three: King’s Call and Incarnation
This is to ask for what I desire. Here it will be to ask for an intimate knowledge of our Lord, who became human for me, that I may love God more and follow God more closely:
Welcome, Lord Jesus Christ, into our flesh, into the heart of our humanness, I welcome your godly holiness upon the earth. I welcome your complete humanness upon my world. I welcome you, yourself, into my life and self. I thank you that I might embrace humanity and find myself embracing you. For you remain in our flesh now and forever, among humankind whose eyes reflect your eyes, whose use of words matches your use of words, whose need of you matches your willing need of us.
DAILY PASSAGES FOR PRAYER
1. Matthew 13: 31–34 The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed or yeast.
2. Luke 9:22–25 To follow me take up your cross each day.
3. Prayer of St. Ignatius to follow our King
“Eternal Lord and King of all creation, humbly I come before you. Knowing the support of Mary, your mother, and all your saints, I am moved by your grace to offer myself to you and to your work. I deeply desire to be with you in accepting all wrongs and all rejections and all povety, both actual and spiritual—and I deliberately choose this, if it is for your greater service and praise. If you, my Lord and King, would so call and choose me, then take and receive me into such a way of life.” (Spiriutal Exercises # 98, Flemming S. J.)
4. Philippians 2:5–8 Christ Jesus emptied himself to be human.
5. The Incarnation: Handout and Luke 1: 26–38
6. Luke 1: 46–55 Magnificat
7. Repetition of the week
REMINDERS FOR PRAYER
1) Always begin with the preparatory prayer and the grace desired.
2) Conclude each prayer period with an Our Father.
3) Immediately after the prayer time, take a few minutes to write down what happened in the prayer - what attracted you, what words or phrases struck you, how you were moved to pray, e.g. praise, petition, thanksgiving, etc. This daily jouranling, if possible, is important