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 one of the given Scripture stories 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 and add 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. The “Orientation” below gives help for how to arrange the sessions of this Step.
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.
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 the contemplations of the Third Phase we pray for the grace of compassion, shame and sorrow which are “unitive” graces, bringing us in union with Christ also in suffering, in the sense as we saw it in the “Introduction to the Third Phase”.
«This period is devoted to what can be called “Waiting at the tomb of Jesus” (Cf. Marian Cowan’s remarks of the Seventh day “At the tomb” in Cowan-Futrell, “The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola,” pp. 121-125.), which instead of the usual five exercises (two contemplations, two repetitions and application of the senses) consists of two contemplations of the entire passion or an altogether unstructured contemplation of it, meanwhile the companions are called to stop frequently for as long as they feel it to consider the burial of Jesus, the weariness and grief of Mary and the disciples. This period could be particularly fruitful, similar to how the disciples might have spent that day after Jesus died, sort of remembering at the tomb of Jesus of what events have lead to this point. The companions might wish to spend some time also to speak with each other about whatever experiences they recall at this time. The whole climate of this period is quiet and advisable to arrange it in a bit relaxing manner.»
With this period we arrive at the end of the Third Phase and immediately will follow on to the Fourth Phase on the resurrection.
«The length of the Third Period depends very much on personal sensibilities and determined by the general rule that it is better to stay with a material as long as it is fruitful in insights and feelings. There was a period in Christian spirituality when almost exclusively only the passion of Christ represented a “legitimate” subject for meditation; the theme of suffering was overwhelmingly stressed in confront with the fact that Jesus is risen and the joyful side of life did not get enough attention. Maybe as a reaction of the former somber attitude in spirituality there are also certain movements that one-sidedly overemphasize joy and picture a triumphant and rosy life in Christ. For many of us it might be indeed necessary to consider the hopeful and balanced message of Christianity, contemplate more and more the “face” of God, which is full of mercy, tenderness, acceptance and healing and gain a sober optimism toward life.
“Go and learn the meaning of the words ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Mt 9:13)
“For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice,
and knowledge of God rather than holocausts” (Hos 6:6)» (Excerpts from the Manual)
During the Third Phase the companions need to read time to time the “Guidelines with regard of Eating” and use some changes in their ambient to support the effectiveness of the exercises. (For this read [204-207] “Notes on how to proceed” after the end of the second exercise in [200-203] “In the Garden of Gethsemane” )
Some might feel to return sometimes on the meditation on the "Three Degrees of the Love of God", and if the companions desire the third degree they continue to ask for it in the final threefold prayer.
- You might choose the passion story from one of the four Gospels. The contemplation of the passion can be divided in two parts followed by a review of the entire story, interspersed with the reflection on Jesus in the tomb:
- Additional reading:
At the end of each prayer session there is a prayerful dialog with Jesus Christ, which the companions might want to do as silent prayer and share with each other later what desire is born in their hearts and ask for it together. Some might be compelled to be finish with the threefold prayer to accept the way of Christ as in the “Three Types” , and in the “Two Standards” , or in the prayer of “paradoxical intention” described in . (You find  toward the end of the “Three Types” meditation).