Yesterday was the fifth weekly gathering of the Lent Retreat in Daily Living I am offering this year at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Our retreat this year is a truncated version of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Easter being as late as it is makes the retreat particularly challenging for our students, who are trying to juggle multiple events during these last couple of weeks of classes, as well as starting to prepare for exams.
During this past week, participants prayed with events in the life of Jesus, part of Week 2 of the Spiritual Exercises. After the participants spent time sharing in small groups their prayer experience during this past week, we talked about some of the difficulty people sometimes have in praying with events about which they are so familiar. There is a tendency to approach some of the events of Jesus’ life with the attitude of “heard that already…already know what that is about.” My encouragement was to try to let go that sense, to try to engage in Ignatian Contemplation with less focus on what the Gospel records and more on what God may want to reveal to me about this episode.
I then offered a reflection on the Beatitudes, which will be the subject of the participants’ prayer this coming week. Ignatian spirituality is fundamentally concerned with our lives as disciples of Christ and the Beatitudes help us flesh out what discipleship means. Jesus Christ himself lived the Beatitudes – indeed, he is the perfect embodiment of them – and thus they offer a pretty full statement of what it means to follow Christ, to live as Christ did in the world. I shared some thoughts on each of the Beatitudes as an entry into their prayer for the upcoming week.