Welcome to "Imagine: A Guide to Jesuit Prayer." In this podcast, Tucker Redding, SJ, guides you through a form of prayer called Ignatian Contemplation, in which you use your imagination to see and interact with various scenes from Scripture. Drawing upon the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, this series will help you engage with Scripture in a new way by bringing these stories to life.
Explainer and Series Preview: What is Ignatian Contemplation?
What is Ignatian Contemplation?
Contemplative prayer is a way of quietly being with God. It can mean reading Scripture and following a train of thought inspired by a certain passage or image, or simply resting in an awareness of God’s presence. In Ignatian Contemplation, as developed by St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, you use your imagination to place yourself in various scenes from the Gospel. Through Ignatian Contemplation, you’ll gain a sense of having actually witnessed the events described in Scripture.
What are the benefits of Ignatian Contemplation?
Ignatian Contemplation can lead to a much more personal connection to Scripture and ultimately, a deeper connection to Jesus Christ, which is the primary goal of the Spiritual Exercises.
How does it work?
In each episode, your guide will summarize a story from the Gospels, then ask you questions that will help activate your imagination. You’ll have time to recreate the scene in your mind and observe what happens as the scene plays out. You’ll also be invited to imaginatively examine the scene using your five senses (e.g., imagining yourself tasting the bread that Jesus blesses at the Last Supper), which will add texture to your experience.
At the end of your prayer experience, your guide will encourage you to make a colloquy, or a conversation “as one friend to another,” with Jesus. This may seem strange at first, so don’t try to force it. Instead, see what happens organically as part of your prayer.
Won’t I just be making everything up? If Ignatian Contemplation is just in my head, what’s the point?
Doubt is a major temptation when practicing this form of prayer. Remember that the point of Ignatian Contemplation is not to engage in scriptural scholarship but to grow in your relationship with God. So don’t get worried about the details or the historical accuracy of what you’re seeing. If what you imagine helps you grow in love and relationship with God, then trust it.
Where should I listen to this podcast?
Ideally, you should try to find a quiet space where you can shut out distractions and, if it helps, close your eyes or soften your gaze. If you’re fitting in this podcast whenever and wherever you can, please make sure to stay safe (i.e., DON’T close your eyes if you’re driving).