Being With Jesus in His Passion

Week 3 of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius ask us to be with Jesus in his passion; it is a call to compassion with Jesus’ suffering. We follow Jesus all the way to his cross and his death, willingly sharing, in the words of one author, “his choices, his anguish, his truth, his desires, his aloneness, his sense of the absence of God.”

Ignatius encourages those doing the Exercises to use their imaginations when they contemplate the events of Jesus’ life. Here are some questions suggested by William Barry S.J., in Seek My Face for this means of praying with the Gospels:

Would Jesus want me to stay with him as he prays on the mountainside? Does he want a shoulder to cry on as he weeps over Jerusalem? Does he need to pour out his feelings, too? What can I do for Jesus in his shame? Does he want me to stay with him in the garden of Gethsemane? One person spent the whole of an eight-day retreat staying with Jesus as he endured his Passion, even helping him at one point to get up and go on. Can I wipe his face or give him a cup of water? Does he suffer still as he lives with people who are tortured for their beliefs? Would he like to talk about his feelings with me? How does he feel about my presence with him in this kind of contemplation? These are only a few of the questions that might arise in us once we allow ourselves to read the Gospels imaginatively with the desire to know Jesus better, to love him more deeply, and to follow him more closely.

You might find this a fruitful way of praying during final days of Lent.