Listen to the Spirit … adapt as needed … stay longer where you are drawn …
“Those who are of great heart and set on fire with zeal to follow Jesus…will not only offer themselves entirely to labor for such a mission, but will act against anything which would make their response less total.” – Spiritual Exercises #97
Full inner freedom is being free from the need of human security and acknowledging God alone is our rock. In needing to feel secure, we would always like to be sure of God’s plans for us. This desire to know His will, so that we can conform ourselves to it, is normal. Although we may do all we can to find out His intentions through prayer, reflection, and spiritual guidance, we may not always find a clear answer…or right away at least.
In Jacques Philippe’s book, Interior Freedom, he explains there are reasons for this uncertainty. He believes that God treats us as adults, and in many situations, he wants us to decide for ourselves. The second reason is purification. If we were always confident in walking the truth, there is a chance we would be come presumptuous and at risk of spiritual pride. Not always knowing is humbling and painful, but it protects us. It preserves us in an attitude of constant seeking and prevents us from false security. Lacking the answers for tomorrow serves as a reminder to live each day fully.
To make prayerful, generous, courageous decision, it requires interior freedom. Ignatius describes three types of people and the differing approaches to decision making (Spiritual Exercises 149-155):
- The first type is “all talk and no action.” This person is full of good intentions, but remains distracted by his or her busyness and never gets around to the one thing necessary, namely, God’s will for them. Not deciding becomes their decision.
- The second person does everything but the one thing necessary. They may do all kinds of good things in their life, yet they do not face the central issue of what God is calling them to do. In effect, they are putting conditions on God. They will do good as long as it does not ask too much of them, especially demand a commitment that would call them to adjust their priorities to what God is asking of them.
- The third person is the only one who is truly free. Their whole and deepest desire to do whatever God’s will is for them with no conditions attached. This is the attitude necessary to authentically find and follow God’s will for us.
If we seek God’s will with a sincere heart, we will receive the light to understand it…
Suggested Song: So Long by Francesca Battistelli
Grace to seek/ask: To trust and be willing to follow You…no matter how nervous, exciting or scary the road may be…
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.
“Each of you has a personal vocation which He has given you for your own joy and sanctity. When a person is conquered by the fire of His gaze, no sacrifice seems too great to follow Him and give Him the best of ourselves. This is what the saints have always done, spreading the light of the Lord…and transforming the world into a welcoming home for everyone.” – Pope Benedict XVI
Exodus 33:12-23 – Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
Listening and Sharing
What plans and desires in my life demonstrate my longing for God?
In what areas of my life do I need to become more indifferent or free enough to want only what God wants for me?
Have I felt purposeless in life?
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?
Hearts on Fire – Page 13: A Prayer for Spiritual Freedom
O Spirit of God, we ask you to help orient all of our actions by your inspirations,
carry them on by your gracious assistance,
that every prayer and work of ours
may always begin from you
and through you be happily ended.