Posted in Spiritual practices

Imaginative reading of scripture

“When we read scripture using our imagination, we picture ourselves in the setting of the scripture passage. We ask ourselves what it would have been like to actually be in that time and place. We notice what catches our attention and the scene before us. We notice what we see, what we hear, even went we smell. We notice how we feel, what questions we might ask and how we might respond to whatever is happening in this event. This works particularly well with the gospel narratives but can be used in most parts of the Bible…

“Some people, however , find the idea of using our imagination in this way to be a little troubling, since Scripture is inspired. They fear that using human imagination may lead to misunderstanding and untruth. But the power of the Spirit of God can permeate and use every human faculty we have. Jesus himself employed the imagination and the stories he told. In his parables he engaged his listeners through their imaginations, in order to teach them truths about God. When we use our imagination to understand Scripture, we’re simply placing ourselves into the scenes and teachings of the Bible and noticing our responses to God. Furthermore, in many ways our own lives are parables. Reading the Bible imaginatively helps us be more attuned to God’s love and grace and the parables of our lives and our world.”

-Alice Fryling, Seeking God Together (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2009), p. 69, 70.

We ask to share in the joy and peace of the risen Christ. This joy, like any grace we pray for, is a gift from God; we cannot earn or force it. We simply try to be open to receiving Easter joy by contemplating Christ as he shares the joy of the Resurrection with others.

Easter joy is rooted in each person’s relationship with Christ, cultivated over a lifetime and deepened through the Exercises and other spiritual practices. Joy comes as we grow in faith, hope, and love. The author of 1 Peter 1:8-9 describes an experience akin to living in [this joy]:

Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for your receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls…

The following contemplation is not found in the Scriptures but comes from Ignatius’s own imagination. Given the central role that Mary played in Jesus’ life, Ignatius thinks it only reasonable that the first person to him Christ appeared with his mother. So imagine the risen Christ appearing to Mary. Imagine the details of the room where they meet. Imagine how each is so excited and joy filled upon their reunion. Imagine the words and embraces they exchange. See how Christ consoles her.

-Kevin O’Brien, The Ignatian Adventure (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2011), p. 240, 241.

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