Step 12: The Value System of Jesus Christ - A Summary

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 readings 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.

Donít 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:

This is the second repetition of the "Two Standards" meditation, and the grace we ask here is the same as before: to recognize the traps of the value system of Satan in our personal life and in our society in order to avoid them, and we ask the grace of the existential knowledge of the value system of Jesus and choose it when discerning about our decisions. The companions need to pray for each otherís choices and for the grace that they could help each other in this exercise and later in the decisions.

Orientation and meditation:

"When we repeat the "Two Standards" meditation the second time we try to summarize what we understood until now how in our concrete life and situation the tactics of Satan seduce us and see if we find at least the desire to choose the value system of Christ. Where are we personally, as a couple, and in our society most vulnerable to the tactics of seduction? What would happen if we donít follow the common temptations, but try to live by the "standard" of poverty-persecution-humility? "

Scripture passages and some other material to aid the meditation:

"- See the two value systems described in the Lukan version of the Beatitudes that puts in parallel blessings and woes, the poor and the rich, the hungry and the satisfied, the weeping and the laughing, the persecuted and the celebrities of society, read Lk 6:20-26.

- Read about the requirements of following Jesus in Lk 9:23-27 and Lk 9:57-62 and see how these reflects what we have seen of the value system of Christ.

- Although the "Sermon on the Mount" (Mt 5-6-7) is a literary composition of the evangelist and not a transcript of an actual "sermon", Matthew here collected the core of the teachings of Jesus to his disciples and it manifests his value system well. When the companions read it next time, they can put it in parallel with the "Two Standards" meditation.

- See how the teachings about the prayer "Our Father" (Mt 6:9-15) and about the abandonment to God (Mt 6:25-34) reflect the basic trust that is at the foundation of the value system of Christ.

- The value system of Jesus is based on the trust in God and on the belief in the goodness of life independently of the adversities. A powerful example of finding the unconditional value of life in love is described by Viktor Frankl in Manís Search for Meaning, in the scene when he and his friend sets off to the morning march to forced labor in the concentration camp and someone sighs "If only our wives could see us now!:

"And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another upward and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking about his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wifeís image, imagining it with uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging lookÖ A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth - that love is the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world may still know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way - an honorable way - in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, ĎThe angels are lost in divine contemplation of an infinite gloryí" (1).

- We can finish our meditation by comparing the standard of Christ with the well-known prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:

"Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

o be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life"" (2)

Final Prayers:

Finish this exercise with the threefold prayer as in the "Two Standards" meditation.

Notes:

  1. Viktor Frankl, Manís Search for Meaning, (New York: Washington Square Press, 1963) pp. 58-59.
  2. Excerpts from the chapter "Second repetition of the Two Standards: a Summary" in the Manual