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St. Ignatius of Loyola

St. Ignatius of Loyola (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More basic contemplation resources are Centering Prayer and some tools from Ignatian Spirituality.  A brief description of each is below, but clicking the links above will get you more infomation.

Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer  (different link) is a good starting place for contemplation because of its simplicity.  As we face the challenge to be still in a busy world, centering prayer is an excellent tool. Drawing from several early prayer traditions, it is a ‘prayer of the heart‘, not the head.

It’s most basic description is to settle in a quiet place, eyes closed, and bring your loving attention to God.

From your centre, invite God’s presence and work in you by saying “Jesus” in your mind and resting there.

Whenever distracted by a thought or emotion, turn your attention back by repeating “Jesus”, or, from the beginning, enter a rhythm of breath in, breathe out, “Jesus”.

Start this practice for only a few minutes, and see if you can work up to twenty minutes of ‘wasting time with God’ in this way.

Daily Examen

The daily examen is a discipline begun by Ignatius of Loyola.   In it’s simplest form it is asking the questions, at least once a day:

“When today was I most aware of God’s presence?” and “When today was I least aware of God’s presence?”

The value of these questions is

1) that we discover which activities or mindsets are leading us to more consistent abiding in Christ, and which have the opposite effect.

and 2) reminds us that  we can dwell richly in God’s presence even during mundane or busy things.

It is something I like to practice at midday, especially if  I feel like I’ve not been grounded in the morning and I’d like the rest of the day to go better.   Always we can begin again!

 Imaginative Contemplation

Ignatius is also counted as beginning a form of  imaginative prayer  where we look at a Gospel account and imagine ourselves really there,  with Jesus.

Unlike centering prayer where we quiet our minds to let our heart pray, through imaginative contemplation our hearts are stirred and emotions engaged.  We can imagine ourselves as a named character in the account, or an onlooker.  Engaging all senses, imagine the event unfolding from various perspectives.

As we ask the Holy Spirit to engage with us, passages that may seem dry can bring fresh life instead.  For those hesitant about a Catholic resource, this method is also described in The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner.

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