Step 8: God Prepares a Way for Our Salvation - The Mystery of the Incarnation

 

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 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 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 hour. 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:

As for all the contemplations of the Second Phase “it will be to ask for an intimate knowledge of our Lord, who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely” [104].

It expresses the basic faith that the contemplation of the life of Jesus promotes the conformation process to Christ.

Note also the use of the word “more” in this quote from Ignatius. This word expresses the inner force that drove him, the passionate love for God, that never stops satisfied with what achieved but desires always move beyond, toward the “more”, to love more, to know more and to do more for God’s “greater glory”. This desire for “more” is the underlying dynamics of the Ignatian spirituality and the Exercises in particular.

Orientation and meditation:

“This exercise deals with the Incarnation, the event when the Second Person of the Holy Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - became man and Ignatius invites the companions to see the Triune God who makes the decision to send the Son to save humankind and do it by becoming one of us…

“We should behold the Father, ‘from Whom all fatherhood, earthly and heavenly, derives its name’ (Eph 3:15), Who is the originless fullness of mysterious life; then the Son, the Word of wisdom in the inner divine existence; and finally the Spirit, who as the alert love of the Father and the Son penetrates the depths of the Godhead. This Trinitarian God eternally conceived this world in such a way that He wanted to assume it with a love that is incomprehensible, as the place for His own created history, in order to participate in earthly multiplicity as the incarnate God” (1)…

“That God is Trinity can be somewhat understood on the base that “God is love” (1John 4:8) and love exists between persons. Further, love by its nature cannot remain between two in a closed circuit but pours out - hence the third person of the Trinity. The couple as the image of the Triune God appears in the first creation story where we can note the shift of the singular and plural of the nouns as a sort of expression for the unity and distinction of them: “God created man [singular] in his image; in the divine image he created him [singular]; male and female he created them [plural]” (Gn 1:27)…

“Now we turn our attention from the Trinity to the entire earth, all inhabitants and all countries of it, and then slowly focus our attention on the image of Mary with the angel in Nazareth. This exercise of imagination is like to watching a movie with this opening closing down of the camera. With this visualization we have three big pictures to use in contemplation, the Trinity, the world and the scene in Nazareth. “

(Excerpts from “Incarnation” in the Manual)

When we have formed these three big pictures in our imagination the contemplation consist of seeing the persons, hearing what they say and finally observing what hey do. While doing this we enter the scene and live it as our own personal experience. Recording our feelings and insights we will begin to note a pattern of consolations and desolations, alternating peaceful and disturbing emotions which is the “raw material” to make spiritual discernment.

Scripture Passages:

1.   Lk 1:26-38 - The Annunciation to Mary

2.   Lk 1:39-45 - The Visitation

3.   Lk 1: 46-56 - The Magnificat

4.   Mt 1:18-25 - The Annunciation to Joseph

5.   Ps 33

6.   Heb 10:5-7

 

Final Prayers:

We spend some time speaking with the Three Persons of the Trinity and finally with Mary about our experiences in this session and give thanks for the graces received. Close with an Our Father...

Notes:

(1)  Karl Rahner, Spiritual Exercises, (New York: Herder and Herder, 1965) p. 139.