©Michele L. Catanese
Notes: Next entry, September 9
* The main body of The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, that is, the retreat, is divided into four parts which he called Weeks. Although the retreat is intended to be 30 days in total, the Weeks are not of equal length, but rather each Week is determined by the pace at which the retreatant is able, guided by the Holy Spirit and discerned by the spiritual director. No two experiences are ever the same, even when the same person makes the Exercises more than once in their lifetime. The retreat can be modified to as few as 8 days or as long as 30 weeks in which one would meet weekly while living in everyday life, (in contrast to the 30 day experience done at a retreat center), depending on the availability or lifestyle of the retreatant.
**During the convalescence of St. Ignatius, (as he was in the midst of his conversion experience), he would daydream about doing chivalrous deeds for Jesus or Mary. Sometimes he would imagine he was like St. Francis or St. Dominic doing great things for Christ. But after these daydreams, he noticed he would be restless or agitated; but when he simply imagined putting his life at the disposal of Christ, he found that peace would return. Thus began his experience in understanding discernment of spirits.
*** I want to be clear that there are many Christian spiritual approaches to prayer in addition to Ignatian spirituality. Some people are more comfortable with one spiritual tradition rather than another: ‘one size does not fit all’ and so it is important to discern which one is best for you to adopt and practice. A good spiritual director can help with this if you do not know what to look for.
1. My photo, taken in Rome: I took this photo of a painting during a trip to Rome a number of years ago, and unfortunately I cannot remember which of the major basilicas we were in. Nonetheless, I chose it as an example of the heavenly angels battling the fallen angels, now known as demons; in it, those who refused to obey God are being cast out of Heaven. They now occupy themselves serving the 'enemy of human nature,' as St. Ignatius refers to Satan.
2. Painting of St. Ignatius Loyola: This is a rather famous image of the saint. I chose it because it depicts the radiance of his holiness emanating from his face, but also it shows him at prayer. This is a cropped version of a larger painting in which, if memory serves, is of St. Ignatius at prayer as he presides at Eucharist. (He is wearing a chasuble, so that is the clue.)
3. My photo, just outside of Tomintoul, Scotland: This seemed to be a good representation of an open field, reminiscent of the plain or field described by St. Ignatius in The Two Standards meditation.
4. Inset of a painting called Noli me Tangere, by Blessed Fra Angelico: I love the work of Bl. Fra Angelico, so I chose this close-up of the Risen Jesus because Jesus is the goal of our spiritual journey. We desire to conform our heart to His.
5. Icon, St. Ignatius Amidst Alaska, by Fr. William Hart McNichols: I felt like this icon depicted the devotion of St. Ignatius to Jesus. Having Ignatius in a somewhat remote place, such as Alaska, not only highlights the presence of God everywhere, but it seems to be a reminder that spirituality is not contained to one culture. Our church is catholic, that is, universal. You can find this icon and purchase a copy if you so choose at https://fineartamerica.com/featured/st-ignatius-amidst-alaska-141-william-hart-mcnichols.html
6. My photo, hiking in the Highlands of Scotland: This photo seemed appropriate as a reminder that we want to follow the signs, so as not to stray from the path.
7. My photo, fiddleheads, taken while hiking near Granton on Spey, Scotland: These fiddleheads seemed to speak of growth and new life. They certainly stood out from the rest of the grass when I spied them. Those who grow in holiness do stand out even with humility, such as that of these humble plants.
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