Listen to the Spirit… adapt as needed…
stay longer where you are drawn…
The First Principle and Foundation – St. Ignatius
The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit.
All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily. As a result, we appreciate and use all of these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal.
In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God.
Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God’s life in me.
Suggested Song: Won’t Stop by One Republic
Grace to seek/ask: To more fully orient ourselves to God in freedom and gratitude…
Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Luke 12:22-34 “He said to [his] disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear…Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides’…”
Try to keep this short, focused on how people’s hearts are as they come to the meeting.
There doesn’t need to be something written for this for each meeting, but if there is a way of checking in that would be helpful in setting the theme for the meeting, include it. Perhaps consider tailoring this time to sharing significant experiences of the “Moving Forward” prayer suggestion from the last meeting.
“The goal of our life is to live with God forever…” – St. Ignatius
So far in this set of meetings, we have reflected and prayed together on our images of God, looked at attitudes that can help us cultivate greater openness to God, and considered encountering God as Love. To grow from here, we will now turn to the wisdom of St. Ignatius of Loyola and his vision of life in God. For if God is all-loving and desires our good, what does that mean for creation and for our lives within it?
Early in his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius includes a special prayer on “The First Principle and Foundation.” It serves as his introduction to his way of praying, serving, and being. Before undertaking any great spiritual or other kind 0f journey, we want to calibrate our navigation system and be sure we are setting ourselves on the right path. The First Principle and Foundation helps us to identify and set our values in order. We can think of it as the “mission statement” or foundation for our Ignatian prayer journey. Tonight’s handout (“Praying the First Principle Foundation“) helps us use the method of Ignatian Meditation to pray with the First Principle and Foundation. Let’s look at the front part first that goes over this method of praying and then apply it to a modern phrasing of Ignatius’ writing on the back.
Listening and Sharing
- What words or phrases especially stood out to me from Ignatius’ First Principle & Foundation?
- How do I feel about Ignatius’ understanding of the “goal” of life and how to journey towards it–relating to all gifts of creation in freedom insofar as they help me grow closer to God?
- What do I currently place at the center of my life?
- How is God’s life deepening in me now? What is helping me to become a more loving person in how I live in the world and relate to others? What is not helpful for me?
These are questions that allow community members to listen to and share about what is moving within them after the focus exercise. Specific questions about the focus exercise can be included here, but facilitators may choose to approach it differently such as with more open ended questions.
- What has struck you as you have been listening to others share? Do you notice any patterns or similarities?
- How have you been feeling throughout the meeting? Comfortable? Anxious? Curious?
- Is there anything you would like to share after listening to another person share?
- What is remaining with you? What do you hope to return to in prayer at another point in the week?
Write a prayer that fits the meeting or ask if anyone from the group who like to offer a spontaneous prayer.