Spiritual Practice: Gospel Contemplation

candles

 

We previously tried the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina and today we will begin Gospel Contemplation. The two are similar but not the same.

Gospel Contemplation comes to us from St. Ignatius of Loyola. It was described back before scriptures were readily available to the laity and there was a lot of illiteracy. It was a way to engage in prayer and scripture imaginatively.

It’s not hard:

  1. Chose a short passage where Jess interacts with someone. If you are using a different holy book, active passages are the easiest to start with.
  2. Read the passage twice.
  3. Then close your eyes and enter the passage in your mind. Let all of your senses become engaged: What do you see, hear, smell, taste? Look around you, who is there, where are you? In the Crowd? Which character in the story might you be? One of the disciples? An onlooker?
  4. At some point, you can choose to interact with Jesus. Ask him, “What do you want to say to me?” and listen for the answer. Or bring another question.
  5. If you are highly imaginative, you may want to find a grounding memory outside of the story, a time you felt fully loved, to pull you back out of the story if you get too involved.

blind bart

Now, let’s try it:

Read this story twice, then let yourself engage. Jesus might ask you the question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

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Mark 10:46-52 New International Version

 

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

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Who were you in the story? What did Jesus say when you interacted?

I hope this was a meaningful experience for you. It can take the fear out of Bible Reading and make it fun, interesting and life-changing. Let me know if you try it!

 

Photo Credits

Candles

Blind Bartimaeus 

 

Spiritual Practice: Visio Divina

half dome

 

Today we will talk about Visio Divina (Latin: Divine Seeing). It is very similar to Lectio Divina which you can read about here. Instead of meditating on scripture or poetry or other holy writings, you are meditating on something visual.

There is a great precedent for this in scripture (visions and dreams, metaphors from nature) and in history with icons, as I discussed in my last blog.

Basically, we approach a picture or something in nature, with openness and spend time (about 20 minutes) gazing at something beautiful or meaningful with a prayerful attitude. Then, you ask yourself some questions. The following set of instructions comes from the Patheos website:

As your prayer deepens, open yourself to what the image might reveal to you. What does it and the Spirit want to say, evoke, make known, or express to you as you attend to it in quiet meditation? Become aware of the feelings, thoughts, desires, and meanings evoked by the image and how they are directly connected to your life.

(choose one of these images to try)

IMG_6702

 

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Does it evoke for you important meanings or values, remind you of an important event or season, or suggest a new or different way of being? What desires and longings are evoked in your prayer? How do you find yourself wanting to respond to what you are experiencing? Take the time to respond to God in ways commensurate with your prayer: gratitude, supplication, wonder, lament, confession, dance, song, praise, etc.

Then spend some time journaling your insights. I find this spiritual practice very refreshing and look forward to trying it with you for the next two weeks.

Let’s see how we do!