Ignatian Contemplation: Jesus Calms the Storm
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 the grace of whatever you desire most right now. If you are not sure what to ask for, you might ask for the grace of awe at Jesus’ presence and power.
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.
On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’
Listening to this passage, have you begun to imagine the scene? Along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus invites his disciples to come with him to the other side. What is it like, this place where Jesus makes his invitation? What is the shoreline like, and the water? It doesn’t matter what the real Sea of Galilee looks like, just see a lakeshore in your imagination. Jesus is there with his disciples, moving away from the crowd. You are there too, among them, one of them.
What is the evening like?
Is it a cool night, or warm?
Is there a breeze blowing, or is the water still?
Can you see the stars, or are they hidden by clouds?
What can you hear? What can you smell?
What feelings arise with Jesus’ invitation to cross the Sea this evening? Excitement? Fear? Joy?
Take a moment to imagine embarking with Jesus and the other disciples, the crowd receding in the distance, other boats accompanying you.
Jesus takes a cushion in the stern to rest. What do you do?
The gale arises suddenly and forcefully, soon swamping water into the boat. How do you react?
Let the scene, and your participation in it, continue to unfold as Jesus is awakened. It’s ok if your imagination diverges from the exact details of the scripture. What happens? What do you do, think, and feel?
Now spend a few moments with Jesus or with one of the other disciples. Talk about what you have imagined, felt, and thought about in this prayer, and listen to the 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?