God created us to think in images. If I tell you not to think of a red apple you will probably see a red apple. Jesus told us parables that inspire our imaginative thinking. When He calls God “Abba” we picture a little child’s relationship with a loving Dada or Papa.
In the 16th Century, Ignatius was injured as a young man and while bedridden he found his only pleasure was reading novels that inspired his imagination. When he ran out of novels he was given a book with stories about the life of Christ. This led to his repentance and transformation in Christ and his form of imaginative meditation has become the most widely used method in the world.
On our Sabbatical in 2015 Bill and I went through each of the Scripture passages Ignatius meditated on and taught to others. Recently we created a beautiful downloadable resource called Ignatian Meditation Guides. It features over fifty-one-page meditation guides for imagining yourself with Jesus in a Gospel story.
Today I share with you an entry from my journal of one of my visual meditations that follows Ignatius’ program in The Spiritual Exercises.
Asking for Grace
Divine Majesty, I ask for the grace I desire that you move my will to chose what will bring the greatest glory to Christ and further your salvation for myself and others.
Meditation on Matthew 17:1-13
I imagine myself as Peter with Jesus at the time of his transfiguration.
I feel curious about why Jesus chose only us to come with him, what is this about? I feel anxious, but I remind myself I can trust Jesus. He is good. I have come to learn to expect to be surprised by God, but I am not prepared for what I see when Jesus is transfigured.
I see Moses and Elijah appear! I want to do something for them. My pride wants to earn their favor, pleasing them and ultimately God.
Then God confronts my self-focus and says, “Look at Jesus! Not people, not even saints. He is my son. He pleases me. Listen to Him. He is the one with my full authority, not Moses and Elijah or anyone else.
I am amazed at who Jesus is and tell him I need his instruction in humility.
I tell Him I am unworthy and feel like I should get kicked off of His team — I am not righteous enough. But he tells me, “I still chose you and I am not giving up on you just because you fail.”
I felt exposed because of my pride. I feel embarrassed when I realized how I seek to please authority and earn favor rather than simply receiving God’s love and grace. But I feel grateful to move into freedom from shame and to feel loved and forgiven by God.
I am happy to be with Jesus.
Examen of Consciousness
I experienced the grace in my prayer time, as God helped me to see myself in Peter and hear His invitation to Listen to the radiant Son of God. Instead of trying to secure myself by pleasing, I can humble myself to listen and trust Christ Jesus.
I sensed God’s presence with me and giving me peace as I rested in Him.
Thank you, Jesus, for teaching me to listen, trust you, and let go of my efforts to please and earn. I need you to continue to train me. Thank you for your compassion that is new every time I fail. Thank you for the privilege and favor of being with you and learning from you. Amen.
I hope you can experience the warmth of God’s loving presence in the transfigured face of Christ. Our Ignatian Meditation Guides can be a great help to you and the people you care about.
Listen to SoulTalk: Imagine: See Yourself With Jesus to be Free of Shame
Bill and Kristi share their initial experience with the Ignatian Meditation Guides. They discuss how meditating on the Bible deepens their relationship with the Lord.