The Spiritual Exercises: Week 4

Spoilers in this paragraph. The meditations of the fourth week (intimate union with God through Christ with meditations on the joys (resurrection and ascension) of Christ) continued with contemplation on the the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection and his ascension.

One frustrating thing happened during week 4. After reading the instructions for week 4, I found the final chapter before the end notes, titled “Supplemental Matter,” detailed all the Scripture readings for the contemplation of weeks 2 through 4 and additional notes for each week. The existence of this material is not detailed in the table of contents, nor mentioned in a meaningful way to reference earlier in the book, so I only got to take advantage of the material during week 4. Here is one instance where having a guide would have been immensely helpful. (I will also write an additional post for the series on the “Supplemental Matter,” as it also contains Ignatius’ notes on several spiritual disciplines.) Having discovered the supplemental matter, for the first time during this process I knew I was reading the exact Scripture passage that Ignatius intended. I do not think finding passages on my own hurt my journey, it may have been an enhancement, but I do think that one day I will repeat the Exercises using all of Ignatius’ notes. The Exercises’ focus on the life of Jesus Christ, with the final weeks covering the death and resurrection, makes this ideal material for the season of Lent.

As for my actual experience with the week 4 material, I had not thought about, in recent memory, the shear number of times and diversity of circumstances that the resurrected Lord appeared to people. Some received a one on one encounter, others in a group setting. Some recognized him right away, while for others he was hidden for a time. The contemplation reminded me of how different people come to faith in Christ. Springing off the previous week’s contemplation of suffering, I now asked myself, Am I really expectant?We should live as people who expect God to be with us, not as people who are surprised when we experience his presence, providence, or miraculous. Yet this expectancy should not jade us to the fact that “God with us” is always an awesome and supernatural occurrence. God with us and we with him manifesting the in the actions of both parties, is the experience of love.


This is a continuing series as I go through The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius.

©2012 Paul Tillman

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