Forty Weeks ~ Sacred Story
Week 4 Prayer Exercises
Encouragements & Wisdom
In addition to this week’s prayer materials, there are Encouragements and Wisdom (pdf).
Listening to Your History
1 I will review my faithfulness to my daily 15-minute time(s) of contemplative rest and reflection. If my commitment has wavered it may be helpful to write down the specific location and the time(s) of day. I ask God for the grace to recommit to this practice, which is the the most important dimension of Sacred Story prayer. I will resist the temptation to judge myself harshly when I fail to live up to the ideal. Each day, I will do my best to be faithful to the commitment I have made.
2 I will purchase a small spiral notebook (if I have not already done so). It will be needed later.
3 During my 15-minute quiet moments this week, I will read through Part Three of St. Ignatius’ conversion story. It is spiritual reading. I will read and re-read reflectively and take my time. I will invite God to be my companion as I read. I will ask the Lord to help me listen with my heart and be attentive to what moves me spiritually. I will use the process that works best for me. If I can better reflect on the materials during my 15-minute prayer periods by reading it all first on Sunday, then I use that method. It may be helpful to highlight the sections of the readings that created hope and/or anxiety, and bring those sections to reflection and prayer.
I will not read ahead.
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.
Read this at the beginning of the week
Welcome to the fourth week of our pilgrimage together. The exercises for the fourth week move from the conversion story of St. Ignatius to your own story. You are invited to make a commitment to join with St. Ignatius and all the holy women and men in the Church, to give your life to Christ for this great work of reconciliation.
Listen to the call and pay attention to whatever stirs in you, be it hope and peace or anxiety and fear. Doing this sharpens your spiritual radar for things that prompt your heart to say: “Pay Attention!” Thank Christ in advance for the blessings and insights you will receive.
Part Three: The Call to Universal Reconciliation
Your Sacred Story
As with Ignatius, God extends an invitation to awaken to the pattern of spiritual, emotional and psychological dysfunction that has formed our anti-story. God invites us to awaken to our lives as Sacred Story and to produce fruit that endures to eternity. The awakening and growth will reveal where our freedom is compromised and how we close our hearts to our authentic human nature. Christ compassionately shows us how our selfishness and pride have corrupted our creativity, robbing us of the joy of innocence. God’s invitation is gentle. God’s awakening is merciful. Rest assured that God’s passion is to pursue us, rescue us, heal us and bring us back to our original innocence. God’s passion is Personal. God’s passion is Love. God’s passion is Christ Jesus.
God’s intention is to gradually heal and transform our thoughts, words and deeds. For every thought, word and deed influences my history in the direction of an anti-story or a Sacred Story. Every thought, word and deed, for good or ill, touches all people in my life, all the world and all of creation, shaping history’s final chapter. The effects of sin and narcissism—as well as the effects of virtue and selflessness—have individual, social, physical, spiritual, and ecological ramifications that reach to the ends of creation. For everything and everyone is one in Love—one in Christ Jesus—through whom and for whom everything was made (Rom 11:36).
Every thought, word, or deed, no matter how discreet, has positive or negative significance in the interconnected web of life that God has fashioned through Christ. It is Christ’s being — His SACRED STORY — that links each of our individual Sacred Stories. It is in Christ that the entire cosmos is joined together. God in Christ has made us responsible for and dependent upon each other and upon the earth that sustains us.
The Christ of the Cosmos — through whom and for whom everything was made — became man, and confronted, absorbed, and diffused all the destructive force of evil’s evolutionary anti-history running through human nature and the created cosmos. Christ reconciles in himself everything in the heavens and on the earth to bring peace to all by the blood of His cross. His SACRED STORY redeems and renews every chapter in our history, individual and collective.
Christ Jesus passionately awaits our participation to join His work of universal reconciliation. Our willingness to accept the path of conversion entails truthfully identifying our sins, dysfunction and addictions. It entails experiencing and admitting our powerlessness to save ourselves. It requires the patience of a lifetime while Christ writes our Sacred Story.
My participation in Christ’s work of reconciliation is the only worthy vocation and the only labor that produces fruit enduring to eternity. My accepting the invitation unlocks the very mystery of life.
When I accept the invitation, Christ promises to share His universal glory. Accepting the invitation to intentionally enter my Sacred Story has momentous consequences.
Now is the Time to Wake from Sleep
Our time on this earth is so very brief. Since the time of Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection, our story can only be measured and valued in light of His eternal mission of Reconciliation. Intentionally entering my Sacred Story will, over time, enable me to know God more intimately and serve God more generously. Like Ignatius, I am called to awaken from sleep — to awaken to wholeness and holiness. I was created and infused with the gift to awaken to a life that reverences the God, who in Christ and the Holy Spirit, is present in all things: all persons, and all creation.
Awakening to my Sacred Story, like Ignatius, calls for courage in the cleansing of the spirit and psyche that it initiates. The process requires discipline in the face of temptation and monotony. It requires consciously asking, even begging if necessary, for God’s graces. It requires time and patience; deliberately choosing each day to be faithful to time and space for God. Awakening requires the patience of a lifetime. Embraced and trusted, the journey is rich with blessings beyond our wildest expectations. Encountering Christ daily in Sacred Story forever changes life, relationships, the earth, and eternity.
What is needed for the journey will be provided each day. In my journey through the memories and experiences, past and present, I am promised the power and mercy of the LOVE that maintains and guides the entire cosmos. It is this LOVE that waits to transform your sins, addictions, angers, fears, grief, guilt and shame. It is this LOVE that restores your broken heart into a vessel of forgiveness, light and peace. The more embedded and impenetrable the web of darkness, compulsion, sin, and addiction in your life, the more strategic and magnificent is God’s grace in breaking its grip, for nothing is impossible with God (Lk 1:37).
On this journey you will gain personal and real knowledge of sin and mercy, creation and eternity. You will come to know, experientially, our gracious God, present in Christ’s Body in the Church, in the sacraments, in yourself, in others, and in all creation. Some of your insights will come in a flash; others will unfold over weeks, months, or years. From now on the whole process of your life is about waking from sleep (Eph 5:14; Rom 13:11), bending to the real, to the authentic, to your true human nature, living and working for fruit that endures to eternity.
Your Sacred History
Your life (and each person’s life) is inextricably interwoven and integrated to Christ’s SACRED STORY in ways both mysterious and sublime. It is mysterious because the ways of this world are not the ways of the Kingdom. What is deemed valuable and successful in this present age is in fact foolish and useless in the spiritual life. It is sublime because the most private sufferings offered to God, the faintest cries for mercy and forgiveness, and the simplest acts of care, kindness or generosity done for one’s enemy, God’s beloved poor, and His magnificent creation, are written in gold in the Book of the Lamb. These are the thoughts, words, and deeds that will endure to eternity.
There are no short cuts to the story’s unfolding. Conversion is lifelong but measurable when I intentionally, daily, consistently, and faithfully enter my Sacred Story. My story begins where Ignatius’ began, in the grace of the call to conversion. My conversion will begin to take shape when I accept that call and follow the pattern of Ignatius’ own conversion. I will discover things that disquiet, create shame and confusion, and unlock hidden angers, fears and grief. I will encounter a heart broken, and innocence and paradise lost.
But most important, in all of this, I will be held, sheltered and guided by the only thing necessary, Christ’s love. I will be given strength to speak truth to power. I will be given grace to see and honestly name those sins, habits and addictions that bring death — spiritual, physical, psychological — and not life. Then, surrendering to my powerlessness in favor of God’s power, the Divine Physician will rewrite my life as Sacred Story.
Surrendering control of my life to the care of the Divine Physician by admitting my powerlessness to save myself will enable me to be vulnerable, creative, innocent, and humble. Once my heart is open, the Spirit of God will continue to write my Sacred Story. My lifetime of patience will bear fruit that endures to eternity. My pilgrim journey, like Ignatius’, follows the proven and time-tested mystical path to wholeness and holiness. There are no shortcuts. Recall that Christ Jesus himself has traveled the path. He will guarantee my journey’s safe passage and carry my burdens, failures, shame, broken heart, and confusion.
I will hold in my heart the humble example of Jesus washing my feet. He endured humiliations, torture, and a disgraceful death, so that I can find hope and healing for everything in my life that needs healing, forgiveness, and redemption. From the beginning of time His SACRED STORY is mystically imprinted into the souls of His chosen people and the Church. Through the pattern of His STORY, I, the Church, and all people can have their history rewritten as Sacred Story.
I will intentionally enter my life narrative for 15-minute intervals once or twice each day. My story linked to Christ’s SACRED STORY and to all people and to all creation, runs from my birth in all the thoughts, words and deeds to shape my destiny here, and in the hereafter. The prayer will help me attune to Creation, Presence, Memory, Mercy, and Eternity. When I encounter the fears, stresses, angers, temptations, failures, addictions and sins in my day, I can briefly attune to Creation, Presence, Memory, Mercy, and Eternity, and ask for the grace to see my whole story. By so doing, the Divine Physician can heal me and awaken my heart to its true human nature.
Christ extends the invitation and His Love, at the Heart of the Universe, awaits my response. I pray for the courage and generosity to enter with Christ into my Sacred Story.