Ignatian Contemplation: Come Away and Rest
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 right now. If you are not sure what to ask for, you might ask for the grace to accept Jesus’ invitation to rest with him.
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.
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
The apostles are returning from their journeys to the surrounding towns where they have preached the good news. Can you see them coming along the roads to where Jesus is? What do they look like?
Are you with them?
Are they tired, energized, happy, frustrated?
Walk along the road, using all of your senses to soak in the scene.
As you and the other disciples approach Jesus, how does he greet you?
Take a moment to tell him all you have been doing, in your own life, to spread the good news. Let him respond to what you say.
Jesus says, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ How do you feel when you hear this?
For the next few moments, let your imagination play out. How do you respond to Jesus’ invitation? Where does Jesus take you to rest? Let your imagination run free. Perhaps it follows the story laid out in the gospel, or perhaps it goes somewhere else. Pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings as you go with Jesus.
How does Jesus show you compassion, like he does for the crowd?
Before you end your prayer, take a few moments to talk with Jesus, as you would with a friend, about what has just happened. Listen to his response to you.
And when you are ready, end 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?
Song Sparrow Serenade by Chad Crouch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 Unported License