Consider that we were created by love to love, that our fundamental purpose or aim in life is to move from the selfish love with which we are all born to a totally unselfish love that is our only way of sharing in the existence of God, who is love.
Consider the contemplation proposed by St. Ignatius known as the Contemplation to Attain Love. The grace we ask for is a double one: to realize how gifted we are, surrounded on all sides by love and, in the gratitude this arouses, to respond by loving and serving God in all things. In the words of St. Ignatius: “to ask for interior knowledge of all the good I have received, so that acknowledging this with gratitude, I may be able to love and serve his Divine Majesty in everything.”
The contemplation is developed in four points. Each covers an area of human reality and illustrates a mode of God’s loving presence and action. We encounter God through God’s gifts: bestowing them, present in them, working in them, and source of them:
1. Bestowing them. Consider all the benefits or gifts God has given you: your creation, your redemption, and all the other gifts you have. Then reflect within yourself what you ought to offer back to God. It is here that St. Ignatius introduces his famous prayer of offering:
Take Lord and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding and my entire will, all that I have and possess.
You gave it all to me; to you I return it.
All is yours, dispose of it entirely according to your will. Give me only the love of you, together with your grace, for that is enough for me.
2. Present in them. See how God dwells in all creatures: in the elements, plants, animals, and humankind, and therefore in you, giving you being, life, and sensation, and causing you to understand. Again, consider what return you should make.
3. Working in them. God is not only present in his gifts but is actually working and laboring on your behalf in all the created things on the face of the earth. Then reflect within yourself.
4. Source of them. To see how all that is good in this world descends from on high. This takes you beyond your own personal life to consider the source of all the good things you can imagine. Then finish by reflecting within yourself.
Your final prayer should take up the offering suggested by St. Ignatius, requesting the help of Mary, Jesus, and the Father to make it honest and effective. It is an offering of yourself, made in love, to God who, because of love for you, has given you so much.
Adapted from In the Midst of Noise: An Ignatian Retreat in Everyday Life by Michael Campbell-Johnson, SJ, copyright 2010 Liguori Publications (819476).
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