Intro to the Spiritual Exercises: The Second Week

The Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises is all about getting to know Jesus. Br. Mark Mackey, SJ, guides us through how we get to know Jesus as a role model and a friend in this week’s episode of the Intro to the Spiritual Exercises.

Who’s somebody that you would follow? Ariana Grande? Cristiano Ronaldo? Bernie Sanders? Oprah? Voldemort?

I’m Brother Mark Mackey, and I’m going to speak about the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises.

St. Ignatius begins this set of prayers by asking us to consider one of our role models. It could be a political figure, a celebrity, a loved one, or any other person who brings out the best in us. For me that happens to be John Denver.

What do we feel when we reflect on this person and our desire to follow them? What aspirations does this person bring out of us? 

Then, we apply the same meditation to Jesus, the perfect role model. He came to earth to lead us, to show us the way. If we have great hopes to follow a merely human role model in our lives, how much more should we deeply desire to follow Jesus, who was not only man but also God!

We may want to follow Jesus, but it might not be clear exactly how we might follow him. That’s the heart of the Second Week: to get to know Jesus when he was a human being so that we might follow in his path. 

The grace we seek at this time is captured in a prayer often repeated by Jesuits: “Lord, grant that I may see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly.” 

Specifically, to get to know Jesus, we contemplate the Gospels, which are stories about his life. We read passages, use our imaginations to think about what it would have been like to be there, and consider how we ourselves might have responded to Jesus’ actions and words. 

We see Jesus fishing with his friends, we see Jesus working in his woodshed, and we see Jesus praying alone in the wilderness.

After entering into these stories, we talk to Jesus about what we felt when we were imagining everything. We have an intimate conversation rooted in what we just experienced in our meditation on the Gospels. St. Ignatius calls this free-flowing dialogue a “colloquy.” 

By the end of the Second Week, we’ve accumulated a treasure of prayer experiences about Jesus’ life on earth. 

We find that we see him clearly–that is, we truly know him.

We love him dearly–we have fallen in love with God.

We follow him nearly–we commit ourselves to journey with him, wherever he may lead us.

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