Step 7: Introduction the Second Phase - The Parable of the Kingdom of Christ

 

Each prayer session will be structured as it follows:

We go to our place of prayer quiet down a short while and begin with some prayer. After the opening prayer and asking the grace we want to receive in this step then we read the orientation and one of the scripture quotes listed below, then we spend some time with silent prayer. At the end we jot down in a diary about the experience of this meditation and share with our companion about it. Finish always with a short prayer. Each session should take at least half an hour and not more than one and the half hours. We remain with the material as long as we feel that it is fruitful in insights and feelings. We have given some scripture quotes to each occasion but others can be chosen for more prayer sessions to prolong the time spent with this step, which can take usually one or two weeks if we do it in our daily life with one prayer session a day.

Don’t forget to do the “Daily Examination of Consciousness”

The practice of Examination will be a great help that you need to use during this retreat.

 

Opening Prayer:

We place ourselves in the presence of God and pray that everything we do would serve the good for us and for all.

Asking what we want:

«In this step we ask from God the grace “not to be deaf” (Ignatius’ words) to the call for the mission of Jesus, to be ready and open so later to be able to decide for it and work in it. At this point we don’t speak yet of a specific resolution for some action, service or state of life, but of a general and generous openness. God who knows and loves us desires for us the best; so we ask that his desires and ours would be in conformity. One main principle of the following exercises is that we will recognize the will of God at the present moment with the help of the contemplation of the life of Jesus. The will of God discovered might be different from what we projected and maybe it will be a relatively small matter, and disappointing in respect to our aspirations, requiring a change of mind and heart. This reality is presented to us in the different parables on the Kingdom in Matthew’s gospel: the sower, the weeds among the wheat, the mustard seed, the yeast, the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price (Mt 13:1-53).

Orientation and meditation:

«We imagine now that this beloved and trusted person - the king of the parable - encourages us to participate in a great enterprise that would bring good to many people, efficient help of food, shelter and healthcare to the needy, winning over unjust social structures, ending armed conflicts and so to establish a flourishing humane culture of life and peace for the earth.  He or she requires our serious commitment to the project and our creativity and endurance of hardships in exchange of his or her total commitment and loyalty until the enterprise achieves its goal and establishes a new world community. The hardships involved might be significant, requiring sacrifices of time, money, personal engagement and also the affront of those who oppose our project and consider our plan foolish, vain and even dangerous. Consider now what would be our answer to such an offer. We very probably would not refuse him or her, but happily accept this invitation.

«The second part of this exercise consists in applying the image we just considered on Jesus. He not only presented himself as the future King, but finally when condemned to death, the main charge against him was that he claimed to be a king. The risen Christ now calls us to work with him in his mission of proclaiming the good news, which means a service of others, “bringing the Kingdom to be in the mutual relationships of all human persons and in the social structures that organize these relationships”(1). He offers his friendship and promises to be with us and share all the hardships we pass through and assures us the assistance of the Holy Spirit and the final success if we persevere with him.

«Christ appears in this meditation as the one who can give ultimate meaning to our life through our involvement in the service of the Kingdom of such values as truth, life, justice, love and peace (2). In logotherapy Viktor Frankl stresses life’s unconditional meaningfulness, since meaning can be found in every situation - also beyond the possibility to work and to love, even in suffering and death. However, “a logotherapist cannot tell a patient what the meaning is, but he at least can show that there is a meaning in life, that it is available to everyone and even more, that life retains its meaning under any conditions”(3). For the believer – and for the Christotherapist – it is possible to point to the source of meaning in God and in Jesus Christ. Logotherapy is a “therapy through meaning”(4) where “logos” signifies “meaning”; in Christotherapy Christ the incarnate Logos is the source of meaning that heals. The meaning in the life of whoever joins the cause of Christ is to be discovered in the work for his Kingdom, in the service of others, and in the struggle against sin, sickness, death, social sin, injustice, war and the forces of the devil in and around us. In this work also those can participate who are seriously ill of neurosis or addiction through their seeking of healing and also through the endurance of the part of suffering that cannot be removed (5). The meaning of life as the will of God needs to be recognized in every situation and moment of life by a continuous learning to discern it. To this task we find a powerful means in the Exercises and especially during the Second Phase of it.

«Now we should consider how attractive is the invitation of Jesus Christ, and everyone “who have judgment and reason” (with the words of Ignatius), would accept it. This step is parallel with the logic of the rule to use things “as far as” they are helpful in our human vocation expressed in the “Principle and Foundation” [23] (see in Step 2), appealing to common sense.

«The companions at this point can accept the invitation of Jesus Christ for this work with their own prayer. They can formulate this prayer together as a common commitment and they can design also a sort of celebration or “liturgy” a “prophetic” action or sign that symbolizes this step that the companions take.»                                                                                                            (Excerpts from “The Kingdom of Christ” in the Manual)

 

Scripture Passages:

 

1.   Mt 21:1-17 cf. Is 62:11; Zec 9:9

2.   Mt 13:31-35

3.   Mt 13: 44-50

4.   Mt 25:31-46

5.   Jn 18:28-19:16

6.   Mt 27:27-37

7.   Mt 5:3-10

 

Final Prayers:

We spend some time speaking with God about our experiences in this session and thank him for the graces received. Close with an Our Father...

 

Notes:

(1)  Marian Cowan, C.S.J.-John Carroll Futrell, S.J., The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. A Handbook for Directors, (New York: Le Jacq Publishing, Inc., 1982) p. 51.

(2)  Cf. the Preface of the Mass of Christ the King, quoted also in Tyrrell, “Christotherapy II,” pp. 162.

(3)  Viktor Frankl, The Unheard Cry for Meaning, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978) p. 41.

(4)  Ibid., p. 19.

(5)  Cf. Tyrrell, “Christotherapy II,” pp. 162-165.