Two sections of Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises are part of my prayer today.

“I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.” – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, (23) Foundation: Fact and Practice

The most important qualities in the person who enters into these exercises are openness, generosity and courage. As retreatents our one hope and desire is that God will place us with His Son so that in all ways we seek only to respond to that love which first created us and now wraps us round with total care and concern. -St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises (5)

Am I willing to be placed with God’s Son? Am I willing to go to the cross, perhaps to go even to that humble manger where all is naked and stark and cold?

Am I open enough to others? Open enough to truly accept people for who they are and not what they can do for me? Do I really love others for their sake and not because I want them to like me?

Generosity is a word that I often believe describes me. I give of myself openly and freely. But is there a part of me that I hold back from others because of fear, fear that I might not believe that I am enough to give to others. Perhaps I think that God has not created a suitable gift in myself, worthy enough to give to others?

Courage, to me is key. It helps us to be open and generous because it gives us the ability to believe not without fear, but to believe despite all that we do fear. Courage helps us face those fears and push through them. To face our enemies alone and to stare them down and defeat the power that we have given them over us in the past.

Am I willing to be open and generous and courageous to this time of retreat and prayer? Am I willing to lay in manger with Jesus alongside stinky animals and itchy straw and be filled with wonder for the first time at all that is creation and humanity? Am I willing to be baptized in the Jordan and know that God expects much of me? Can I walk that dark road to the High priest’s house alone, abandoned by everyone I held dear and later face my cross only to further be pierced in the side?

I fear that I may choose wrongly, nay, I know I will choose wrongly sometimes. And yet, God still wills that I am placed with His Son, who forgives the woman about to be stoned for her sins and drives demons out of wild women and raises the dead to life.

So today, place me with your Son, Lord. Take me to the dark places in myself so that I might overcome them. Give me a generous heart to give of myself to others when I think I cannot. Make me open to experiencing all that keeps me from you so that I might understand my weakness. And most of all, give me the courage to face my fears alone, knowing that all I need to do so is to keep my faith in you, as you show me more.

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