Finding God is the most vital experience we can ever have in our lives, since it connects us with our origins and our ultimate end. The Spiritual Exercises, a gift from God to St. Ignatius, have helped lots of people fall in love with God and follow Him, thus nudging them towards sainthood.
Based on the possibility envisioned by St. Ignatius of making the Exercises “in the midst of daily life”, we have designed an activity specially tailored to the needs of young children and adolescents. Every fifteen days, they have an Ignatian prayer session where they contemplate different biblical scenes related to the four-week scheme. Thus, they complete the Spiritual Exercises twice, once when they are in primary school and once, in secondary school. Through the sustained and perseverant practice of Ignatian prayer, the children develop a first-hand understanding of the Gospels and of Jesus’ life, which helps them develop a solid framework, enjoy inner silence and serene contemplation, and learn about discernment.
This activity, once small-scale, has now expanded and is being practiced in many Jesuit schools and parish churches. After several years of perseverant and loving work, the experience has been synthetized in a Handbook that systematizes Ignatian contemplation and articulates it with the school curriculum. Its ninety reflections, specially adapted for young people between 6 and 17 years old, will allow them savor the beauty of calm and stillness, improve their self-knowledge and their knowledge of Jesus, and experience his love and presence in “slow sips”.
Within this context and bearing in mind the third commitment adopted by the JESEDU delegates in Rio 2017 that reads “The delegates commit to find ways in which Ignatian Spirituality (ref The Exercises) can be actively adapted to the school setting so that students learn the habit of stillness and the practice of discernment”, we would like to share with the Jesuit community at large our joy for the launch of the Ignatian Prayer Handbook and invite you to adopt and put into practice this fruitful activity, so that we can cherish the dream that deep inside our students’ hearts the yeast will wake up and make the dough rise because they have been given the chance to drink the water of life. AMDG.
A wonderful example of this fruitful activity is expressed in this video, were two students from Colegio de la Inmaculada Concepción in Santa Fe, Argentina, who have experienced the Ignatian Prayer throughout their schooling, as outlined above. Now, as senior students, were invited to share their experience of guiding younger students in the Ignatian Prayer. They did this by guiding a young group of students from Colegio del Salvador in an Ignatian Prayer at the VI FLACSI Rectors meeting, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Every morning before the start of a meeting small groups of Rectors were invited to observe in the hope that they would be inspired to implement something similar in their own schools, with the help of the recently published prayer manual.
If you would like to know more about this or are interested in implementing something similar in your own school please leave a comment in the conversations below.