Lesson: Saint Ignatius calls this a “contemplation” because it is not so much an intellectual study of the meaning of love but a practical invitation to grow more deeply in love with God. The goal of this contemplation must be to allow not only your intellect to understand love but also your will and all the passions and powers of your soul to become consumed by the love of God.
The ultimate goal of The Spiritual Exercises is to give God the greatest glory possible in life through the deepest habitual attainment of love of God. As a “habit,” love must become who you are.
Throughout the meditations of this book, you have especially focused on growing in the perfection of the virtue of charity. As you grow in love of God, you also grow in love of others. You have also used the beautiful prayer of Saint Ignatius that begins “Take, Lord, receive…” This prayer, traditionally called the Suscipe Prayer (Receive Prayer), goes to the heart of what real love is all about. Love is about giving of oneself to another, holding nothing back; and then, if the love is returned, it is received from one who also freely and completely gives. This mutual sharing of lives must be your constant goal. With others, you share your knowledge, affections, mutual support, time, concern and so much more. With God, you share all that you are and in return receive all that God is so as to be transformed by His divine grace. Love is primarily an action by which you give of yourself completely.
The gifts you receive from God are beyond what you can ever calculate or understand. He created all things and sustains all things. He dwells in all things and transforms all more deeply into His likeness. God and His gifts are everything, and your only response should be one of the deepest gratitude.
The best way to express your gratitude to God is to give of yourself completely to Him and to seek nothing other than God and His will for your life. By making God and His will the singular object of your life, you receive everything in return and are then able to give everything good to those around you in the way God calls you to give. Love given is possible by love received, and love received enables a deeper and more complete ability to give without reserve.
Suscipe Prayer of Saint Ignatius
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
all I have and possess.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is Yours; do with it what You will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace.
That’s enough for me.
Reflection: The following will help guide you in this meditation as Saint Ignatius recommends:
- First, see yourself standing before the throne of God with the angels and saints as they pray for you.
- Second, make a petition such as this: My precious Lord, give me the single grace to see all the good that I have been given. As I see, help me to understand all that You have bestowed upon me so that I may be filled with the deepest of gratitude and be so moved by Your love that I desire only to love You in return, to serve Your divine will in all things and for Your greater glory. Amen.
- Using your mind and affections, call to mind all that God has given to you: your creation, redemption and every other gift unique to you and your life. Ponder these in gratitude. Ponder, especially, how God wants to give His very self to you as a gift.
- Now consider what sort of return you must give to our Lord for all that He bestowed upon you. You owe Him everything. Return to the Suscipe Prayer (Take, Lord, receive…).
- Now contemplate the truth that God dwells in all things. Consider how He dwells in the material world and sustains it in plants, animals. Consider the various and different ways He dwells in each.
- Contemplate now how God especially dwells in you. His indwelling gives life, emotions, feelings, intellect, will and all that makes you who you are.
- Return to the Suscipe Prayer and consider what sort of a return you are to make to God for all of these gifts.
- Contemplate now on how God actively works in you and for you. He is not distant or idle. God is active in you. As you consider the divine actions of God in your life, throughout your life, allow gratitude to grow.
- Return again to the Suscipe Prayer and call to mind all that you must return to God as a result of the divine work He has done and is doing in your soul.
- Lastly, consider the divine attributes such as Goodness, Justice, Mercy, etc. See them as rays shining forth from Heaven. See them shining on you and grow even more deeply in gratitude for these divine attributes in your life.
Make a final return to the Suscipe Prayer. Attempt to pray this prayer in the deepest and most selfless way you have ever prayed it.
- Resurrection of Jesus and First Apparition
- Second Apparition
- Third Apparition
- Fourth Apparition
- Fifth Apparition
- Sixth Apparition
- Seventh Apparition
- Eighth Apparition
- Ninth Apparition
- Additional Apparitions
- Ascension of Jesus
- Contemplation to Attain Divine Love