Monday, February 18, 2013

Postcards from the Exercises: Getting in position to pray

I'm retracing the Spiritual Exercises in an adapted form (though I think you could argue that the Exercises are always adapted) using the materials posted at The Ignatian Adventure and writing weekly reflections on my experience for's DotMagis blog. I joked with the editor of that series that I felt like I was sending her weekly postcards from my trip with Ignatius. Since I have more to say than fit on those virtual postcards...

There is much good advice about prayer in general tucked into Ignatius' Exercises, advice that I have returned to again and again since my time at Gloucester, and that I'm revisiting with particular interest on this Ignatian adventure.  At the end of the First Week there is a section entitled "Helps for Prayer" which includes a section on posture in prayer, and (in typical Ignatian fashion) suggestions for how to discern which position might be best.  

For some weeks my ankle limited my choice of prayer positions, which I found frustrating, annoying, and distracting.  After about a week of wishfully trying to figure out a way to fold myself into an approximation of my preferred posture, I finally recognized that my preference was more about habit than anything else and perhaps I should not "fix my desires" on one position or the other, except as it was bringing me what I desired in prayer.

I ended up writing this piece for Phaith:

"Faced with all these choices, I thought of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s advice regarding posture: experiment. Kneeling, lying on the sofa, prostrate on the ground — be attentive to what leads you to God. Once you have found what you seek, noted Ignatius, don’t fidget, and above all do not be anxious, but be at rest in God."

Read the rest here.

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