Forty Weeks ~ Sacred Story
Week 11 Prayer Exercises
Listening to Your History
1 I will select my 15-minute quiet times for the week ahead and once again visualize where I will go each day and at what times. I will ask God for the grace to keep those times sacred. I will have my notebook at hand for each prayer period for this week. I will spend no more than 15-minutes in each formal prayer session.
2 My 15-minute quiet prayer this eleventh week is a simple prayer exercise for Sunday through Saturday. I will write a letter to Christ Jesus asking for His help and healing for my life story. The letter is my confession of faith in Him who comes to heal me and forgive me. The letter is also a snapshot of my whole life. It is my opportunity to tell Christ where I have been wounded by sin, life’s difficulties, how I struggle for wholeness and why I need Jesus’ help and forgiveness. I will ask Jesus to be my Savior.
3 My prayer sessions this week only can be longer than 15-minutes, because I am writing a letter. Nevertheless, I still begin each prayer period by sitting in a comfortable position. I will use my favorite name for Jesus (Christ Jesus, Lord and Savior, Redeemer…), for this week’s personal prayer because Christ is the person who won my freedom from sin and death. This week, He is the one to whom I am speaking.
I will awaken to the present moment.
I will take each day and each exercise as it comes.
I cannot do Sacred Story better by going faster.
I will ask God to help me.
I will awaken to my spiritual nature and to the inspirations that inspire faith, hope and love.
I will awaken to the inspirations that inspire cynicism, impatience and lusts. I will wake up!
Focus Affirmation for Week Eleven
I will say this affirmation aloud once daily:
Lord Jesus Christ, you experience great joy when I allow you to forgive my weakness and sinfulness because you lived, died and rose again so that I might have new life in you.
Read this at the beginning of the week
A LETTER TO CHRIST JESUS
You may be wondering how you will make use of the prayer exercises from the past few weeks. This will become clearer as your journey continues. Have faith that your efforts will be spiritually fruitful. You are not expected to see the complete picture in everything you have done so far. We have been on a treasure hunt of sorts, pulling together many diverse elements of our life story. The process of piecing the parts together will happen throughout the rest of your life—both by your careful attention and by the grace of God. So, have patience and trust. As time goes on, everything you have done up to this point will take on greater meaning for you (if you follow the lessons in order and ask for God’s help).
For this week’s exercise to prepare your Whole-Life Confession, you can refer to some of what you wrote in the last weeks.
What do we mean by a Whole-Life Confession? A Whole-Life Confession is different from a confession of your whole life. It is not helpful, nor is it required to twice confess sins and faults you have already confessed. The opportunity of a Whole-Life Confession is to look at connections and patterns of sin and failure across your whole life—what we have been working on these past weeks. You are invited to ask for God’s help to see a holistic picture of your life—your story—with Christ as your Divine Physician and healer.
It must be recalled that this reconciliation with God leads, as it were, to other reconciliations, which repair the other breaches caused by sin. The forgiven penitent is reconciled with himself in his inmost being, where he regains his innermost truth. He is reconciled with his brethren whom he has in some way offended and wounded. He is reconciled with the Church. He is reconciled with all creation.1
Think of this confession as your report to Christ—based on your spiritual diagnosis—after these weeks of prayerful reflection. You can confess current issues and past issues that have been overlooked. As you do this, you are telling Christ the chronic patterns of sin and weaknesses your prayer and reflection with the help of God’s grace has awakened in you. And, importantly, how these issues are linked to your life story—your history.
As you look at your life story with Christ, the Divine Physician, address Him directly and acknowledge why you need Him as your Savior. This could be the very first time you have reviewed your life, seen clearly why you cannot save yourself, and directly asked Jesus to be your Savior. What a profound grace to know why you cannot save yourself and to ask Christ for this tremendous gift! A profound grace, indeed!
Look at this from Christ’s perspective, too. There is no greater gift you give to Christ than your sinfulness and weaknesses as you ask for His healing love, mercy and forgiveness. By doing so, you take seriously the gift of His life, passion, death and resurrection. You are telling Jesus you need His cross to be healed. You are thanking Jesus for suffering and dying for you so you can be renewed in Him. This is the real focus of Christian life! Jesus really loves you and wants to hear what you have to say to Him. He waits with compassion and great longing to hear your story. He waits to carry your burdens and to offer you His forgiveness.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”
Lk. 5: 30-32
With Jesus as your Divine Physician, a Whole-Life Confession makes perfect sense. He understands you and everything about your life. He has an intense desire to hear your life story and wants to respond as your Savior. What follows are a few suggestions to help you prepare for this simple, holy and graced letter. Your letter is a statement of your need and a confession of your sins and patterns of sin, as well as a request for forgiveness, healing and hope.
1. One picture is worth a thousand words—
Your life is a picture, a story. Write a letter to Christ that is no more than 1000 words. If typed, it would be about three and a half pages double-spaced. But you do not have to write that much. I repeat: write no more than 1000 words.
2. Personal words that are heartfelt—
Early on you identified the name for God that touches your heart. This week find the name for Christ that speaks to your heart. Perhaps it is Christ Jesus, Lord and Savior or My Lord. You are speaking to the One who won your victory and who came into the world to save you. This week, we want to speak directly to Christ Jesus. Speak to Jesus in the first person: “Please forgive…; I remember; I suffered; please heal me…” Write the confessional story—your history—directly from your heart to the heart of Jesus.
3. Strive for honesty—
Strive earnestly for courage and honesty in your letter. The letter is for you and you only, unless you choose to share it in Sacramental Confession. You need not impress anyone. What is significant is your courage and honesty. Be honest too, about the forgiveness you need to extend to others. Write from your heart.
4. You are not climbing Mount Everest—
PLEASE, pray for the grace not to turn this simple, graced letter/confession opportunity into a huge, exhausting task. You are not climbing a mountain. You are having a conversation with Christ about your life. Hear Him say to you:
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.
Mt 11: 28-29
5. Pray for Patience and Compassion——
Awakening to your life story will take the rest of your life. It takes a lifetime for Christ’s work of healing and forgiveness to embrace your heart and soul. There is no finish line or ultimate enlightenment you can reach on this earth. You will always need healing at deeper levels. You will constantly grow in love and enlightenment, selflessness and humility until the day you pass from this earth. You will not be finished until the day the Divine Physician sits you down at His Eternal Banquet.
But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.
6. Set the scene in your heart’s imagination—
Here is how you might set your heart’s imagination as you write: imagine you have been given the opportunity to be alone with Christ when He is walking from one town to another. You will have 15-minutes with Him…alone. See the road and the other followers walking up ahead of you and the Lord. No one else can hear you. Write your letter as if you are speaking to Christ in this setting. He knows why you want to speak with Him and is ready to hear you. Before you begin talking about your life, He looks you in the eyes and says: “Soon, I will be lifted up on my cross. I am doing this for you so that you can find forgiveness, healing and hope for the sins, weaknesses and suffering you experience in your life. As I conquer all death and sin—as I breathe my last breath—I will hold you and your life story in my heart. You will find victory and eternal life in me and one day be with me in paradise.”
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Lk. 23: 34, 42-3
What follows is a template for how you might structure your heart-felt conversation/letter/confession to Christ Jesus, the Divine Physician: