Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Week 14, Exercise 1: Jesus Challenges Me (The Story of the Rich Young Man)

This exercise should be experienced between March 18 and 21.

First, I would like to take a moment to encourage you to read through the rules of discernment for the second phase of the Spiritual Exercises. You can find them here. Please focus on #329-336. There is one rule that is particularly helpful--the seventh rule (#335). David Fleming's translation of the seventh rule of the second phase reads as follows: "As we continue to make progress in the spiritual life, the movement of the good spirit is very delicate, gentle, and often delightful. The good spirit touches us in the way that a drop of water penetrates a sponge. When the evil spirit tries to interrupt our progress, the movement is violent, disturbing, and confusing. The way that the evil spirit touches into our lives is more like water hitting hard upon a stone."

As we pray, let us focus on the movements of the good and evil spirits (the movements of our thoughts and feelings). If in prayer, we find ourselves caught up in noisy inner turmoil that works against the heart's tendency to move toward charity, we can conclude that the evil spirit is attempting to disrupt our prayer. If it is possible, ignore this noise. Relish and follow interior movements that give delight and that come upon us gently (like a drop of water penetrating a sponge). If we master this skill in prayer, we will find that it will aid us in all aspects of life.

Now, for the specific prayer of this particular post, use your imagination to enter into the scene of Mark 10:17-31 (the story of the rich young man). Focus on verse 21. Can we feel the love that Jesus has? As we pray with verses 21-22, let's examine what our "possessions" are. They may very well be physical things. They could also be other attachments--to power, to a particular group of people, to an ideology, to a plan. The term "possessions" in this story means anything that keeps us from totally surrendering to charity and justice. What are my possessions/attachments?

As we continue in prayer, do we feel hope when we read verse 27? What can God do for me as I struggle with my own attachments?

Let us really ask ourselves: for what or for whom am I living?

Let the colloquy begin with the disciples in their incredulity and with the knowledge they have now. Let us finish with a conversation with Jesus and God the Father.

Finally, let's remember to review our prayer period in our journals and ask "Where was the good spirit consoling and the evil spirit distracting us?"

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