Our first principle and foundation is to serve and delight in God. St. Ignatius of Loyola emphasizes this point in the beginning of his Spiritual Exercises in order that participants may know how uniquely God created them with their personality, talents, and desires. Once this understanding is savored, Ignatius asks us to reflect on our sin. This reflection is not meant to condemn, but to motivate change. For once we acknowledge how we have not served and delighted as we were created to do, God’s grace gives us the strength and joy to do so. In the spirit of these Exercises, let us take time to reflect on our current situation in life so that we may behold God’s loving gaze and mercy.
Mercy is why God became incarnate. Jesus entered into our history and shared our condition so that he can show us his faithful love despite our sins and struggles. God wants to be in kinship with us. As Father Greg Boyle emphasizes, God holds up a mirror to us and tells us that the person you see is exactly who God had in mind when God made you. You are meant to live in this specific time and place. God’s love and mercy is revealed to you in your apartment, your commute, your neighbors, your grocery store, your friends, your parish, and your family. Just as Jesus entered a particular time and place, so are you called that you might serve and delight in God and neighbor.
Take time to reflect on how God’s mercy has mapped your life within the world. In other words, Google Map your life with a little Ignatian imagination.
- Go to Google Maps, and in the bottom lefthand corner click the square that says “Earth.” Then in the right hand corner where you see a “minus” sign, keep clicking the minus sign until you zoom out as far as possible. Ponder the beauty of Earth, the sun, and the stars. What do you imagine that God finds beautiful and good? Feel free to rotate the earth and view it from all 360 degrees.
- Then click the “plus” sign once. Rotate the earth but stop and take a look at different regions and imagine the lives of various people in different regions. What joys do you imagine? What suffering? What is God directing you to see?
- In the upper left hand corner where the white rectangle says “Search Google Maps,” type in Israel and hit enter. Look at the land where Jesus became incarnate. Imagine him growing up in this area and what his life must have been like. Ponder how specific God’s love is and how he chooses particular locations and people to do God’s will. Feel free to zoom in and out in any other part of the world.
- In the upper left hand corner, type your home address, work address, parish address, or city. Ponder how God views your life in this location. How is God proud of you? Is God asking you to change in any way? Is God calling you to something new?
Carry this reflection in your heart and savor the joy and guidance you receive. Come back to the emotions you experience in this prayer—God is speaking to you through them. And know that you are part of God’s tangible salvation in the nitty-gritty of everyday life.