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Graces and Desires: Beginning an Ignatian Prayer Period

Desires and Graces

“Not discussed enough in Ignatian spirituality is the importance of desire. Saint Ignatius uses this word throughout the Spiritual Exercises. He says that one of the purposes of the Exercises is “to find better what one desires.” This makes its way into meditation after meditation as the retreatant is asked to name the grace they are seeking in their prayer time. “Ask God our Lord for what I want and desire,” it says. It could be the gift of consolation, repentance, hope, conversion, redemption, feeling loved, or even tears. But the importance of desires goes beyond formal prayer within a retreat.
Our desires, like many things, are a way God communicates with our heart and guides us. Selfish desires and what Ignatius would call “inordinate attachments” are not in the picture. Ultimately, we see that our desires are really the same as God’s desires for us. They lead us to the person God wants us to become - Andy Otto


Prepatory Prayer & First and Second Preludes

Prepatory Prayer (SE46) St. Ignatius writes: In the preparatory prayer I will beg God our Lord for grace that all my intentions, actions, and operations may be directed purely to the praise and service of His Divine Majesty.

*The Prepatory Prayer is Never changed. First Prelude (SE47) St. Ignatius Writes: "This is a mental representation of the place. Attention must be called to the following point. When the contemplation or meditation is on something visible, for example, when we contemplate Christ our Lord, the representation will consist in seeing in imagination the material place where the object is that we wish to contemplate. I said the material place, for example, the temple, or the mountain where Jesus or His Mother is, according to the subject matter of the contemplation. In a case where the subject matter is not visible... the representation will be to see in imagination my soul as a prisoner in this corruptible body, and to consider my whole composite being as an exile here on earth, cast out to live among brute beasts. I said my whole composite being, body and soul."

The Second Prelude (SE48) I will ask God our Lord for what I want and desire. The petition made in this prelude must be according to the subject matter. Thus in a contemplation on the Resurrection I will ask for joy with Christ in joy. In one on the passion, I will ask for sorrow, tears, and anguish with Christ in anguish.

Wisdom From St. Ignatius

  1. St. Ignatius advises that we pray for a certain Grace with each prayer period.

  2. When we name what we desire from God, we become more open to receiving the gifts that God wants to give us.

  3. Praying for a grace from God helps us to notice the gifts that we receive from God.

  4. Try to ask God for the Grace that St. Ignatius suggests with each prayer period

  5. When the grace that St. Ignatius suggests is difficult to pray, he suggests that we ask God to help us to desire it.

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