Spoilers in this paragraph. The meditations of the third week (intimate union with God through Christ with meditations on the passion of Christ) continued with contemplation on the passion of Jesus, from the preparation of the Last Supper through his burial, focusing on his suffering.
In this time we also ask, “What ought I to do and suffer for him?” (Ignatius in Ganss, 1992). For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him (Philippians 1:29). Suffering is a negative motivator. We usually are motivated to action in order to avoid suffering. I have had a sore back for several weeks. Upon visiting a chiropractor for the first time in my life, I discovered that the bottom line is that my back will stop hurting if I lose some weight. My doctor has wanted me to lose some weight for several years, and I have wanted to look better for my wife and be more fit for some time. However, now that I am in pain it is much easier to eat smaller portions, get some exercise, and not eat dessert for breakfast. If I am so tuned this way, how can I be motivated to praise God when I suffer as a Christian (1 Peter 4:16) and encourage others to do the same?
In recounting his life, Paul the Apostle said, I have been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). Yet later in life he passes along this trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. (2 Timothy 2:11)
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The instructions of week 3 demonstrate another aspect of the flexibility of the Exercises. An exercitant may choose to to spend extended time contemplating a particular aspect of the passion, but must still cover all the cover all the major events of the narrative. For example, if I were to spend a day contemplating Jesus washing the disciple’s feet, I could not skip Jesus before Pilot in order to still finish in seven days, instead the third week would simply be extended. However, the number of exercises completed each day is “according to what is most helpful in view of the exercitant’s age, condition, and temperament” (Ignatius in Ganss, 1992). Spiritual formation in churches can do something that schools and universities cannot, allow a person to progress at their own pace.
Ganss, George E., S.J. (1992). The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius: a Translation and Commentary. Chicago: Loyola University Press.
This is a continuing series as I go through The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius.
- My Spiritual Exercises
- The Spiritual Exercises: The Pre-work Warm-up
- The Spiritual Exercises: Week 1
- The Spiritual Exercises: Week 2 part 1
- The Spiritual Exercises: Week 2 part 2
- The Spiritual Exercises: Week 3
- The Spiritual Exercises: Week 4
- The Spiritual Exercises: Supplemental Matter
- 8 Attributes in Effective Spiritual Formation: Lessons Learned from Saint Ignatius
©2012 Paul Tillman