Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
by Fr. Ivan Olmo

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius provide a great opportunity to seriously detach oneself from the world and enter into sacred silence and into God’s holy presence to contemplate his love and pray for the grace to intimately know Jesus, love him more freely and follow him more closely. In the first week of the Exercises, one has the opportunity to review life in light of God’s profound love. Openness to God’s holy love sheds light on how selfishly we respond to God’s gifts and identifies the ways, excuses and sins that prevent us from loving Christ and following him without reservation. In the second week, one reflects on how to better follow Christ by learning where he worshiped, when he prayed, how he served and who he ministered to.  In the third week, one meditates on the Passion and death of Christ. In Christ’s suffering, we experience God’s unconditional love for us.  In the Eucharist, we share in it. The last week of the Exercises, one experiences the joy of the Resurrection and walks with the risen Christ as he dispels fear from the disciple’s hearts and shares the fulfillment of the Father’s peace. This new life inspires a disciple to make a total offering of self and encourages them to respond more generously to the call to love and serve Christ more faithfully. During the Exercises, we learn different forms of prayer and ways to experience God in prayer. One way is to use your imagination by placing yourselves into a scripture scene to hear what people are listening to, see what they are looking at, smell what they are cooking, taste what they are eating, feel what they are sensing. The object of this form of prayer is to use our spiritual senses to become more attentive to God’s voice, more open to his presence, and more responsive to his holy will. Try it. Disconnect and detach yourself from the world and from all the noise, then enter into sacred silence. Imagine Jesus in the quiet, hidden years of his early life. Enter the scene. What might a school day with Jesus be like? What might a conversation with his friends sound like? How did Mary and Joseph feel living with God, caring for him, feeding him, bathing him? Try it. It is a great way to pray. “Lord, grant that I may see you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day.”

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