Ignatian Contemplation: Be Opened!
Gospel Contemplation is a way of praying that St. Ignatius proposes quite frequently in his Spiritual Exercises. You are invited to use your imagination to enter the scene, to take part, to let the scene unfold. As Ignatius suggests, notice the people, listen to them, watch what they do [SE, 106, 107, 108]. Perhaps you may sense an invitation to be one of the individuals in the scene and engage in a conversation with one of them. You can do this on your own, or use the text below as a guide.
If this way of praying is new – simply relax and try to become engaged in the scene. Try not to worry about what you are “supposed to” be doing. If you find yourself distracted during your prayer, very gently bring yourself back to the scripture text or your imaginative contemplation.
If at any point during the guided contemplation your imagination comes to life in such a way that God invites to you stay with a particular moment, follow the invitation that you sense, rather than move on to where the written contemplation is going. In that case you might want to stop reading and continue on your own.
Quiet your body and mind
- Choose a position where you can be relaxed but alert.
- Breathe deeply several times and let your body relax
- Breathe out any worries or stressful thoughts and put them in God’s hands
- Become aware of God’s presence here with you now, looking at you with love.
Ask for a grace
- Ask God for whatever you desire most in this prayer time. If you are not sure what to ask for, you might ask for the grace to to know Jesus more intimately, to love him more intensely, and to follow him more closely.
Read the scripture passage
Read the passage slowly, savoring the words and beginning to imagine the scene. Read it twice if that helps you to visualize it.
Then Jesus returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’
Jesus is returning from the region of Tyre back to the Sea of Galilee. See him in your imagination as he walks.
Who is with him? Is it just his disciples, or other followers too? What is the scene like as they walk -- do people crowd in, do they give him space?
What is the landscape like? Is he near a town or not? What is nearby?
What kind of day is it? What can you hear, see, and smell?
Where do you place yourself in this scene? Perhaps you are the deaf person with the speech impediment, or perhaps you are a bystander or follower of Jesus. Take a moment to place yourself there.
There is movement in the crowd, and several people accompanying a deaf person approach Jesus, begging Jesus for healing. Whoever you are in the scene, how does this touch you?
As Jesus draws the person aside, touches ears and tongue, pay attention to your own experience of this moment. How do you feel?
Jesus says, “be opened,” and the person is healed, and barriers to community and communication are lifted. How do you respond? What does this mean for you?
Take a few moments to talk with Jesus as you would to a friend. Share with him what is in your heart, and listen to his response. And when you are ready, close with a favorite prayer.
Review of Prayer
St. Ignatius recommends that we review our prayer. A written review has many advantages. It enables us to look back on our prayer experience, and to notice what happened. It allows us to be fully present to our experience of prayer. We do not write while we are praying. The review of prayer enables us not to judge ourselves or look for how well we are doing. It helps us to become more sensitive to how God is speaking to us in the here and now. It is also a precious record of our journey with God, which nourishes wholeness and integration.
Some questions to assist with your review:
What happened in your prayer?
What feelings did you experience?
During the prayer period, when did you feel encouraged?
When did you feel discouraged?
Did you receive the grace you asked for?
What did you receive?
Headwaters by Chad Crouch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 Unported License.