Knowing and Experiencing

In the third week of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises the believer places herself or himself with the Lord in the events of Holy Thursday and Good Friday. It’s not just a rereading of the Passion narratives. The intention is for the person to accompany the Lord in his sufferings. James Martin’s book The Jesuit Guide To (Almost) Everything refers to this. He cites David Fleming, SJ on these meditations:

We know the story of the Passion. Ignatius wants us to experience it as something fresh and immediate. We learn to suffer with Jesus, and thus we learn to suffer with the people in our lives.

This really struck me on my walk home last night. I’ve had two ministry challenges early this semester–relationships with people I haven’t quite been able to figure out. Not conflicts, really, but awkwardness that, if unchecked, could lead to misunderstanding or even dispute. I’ve been trying to bring this to prayer. But the Ignatian wisdom of placing oneself with Jesus, with the other person, made an impact.

My ministry experiences tell me how vital it is to be a companion to people I serve. It’s not enough to know about them: name, age, address, cell phone. Or other more personal stuff: number of years married, vocal range, favorite saint. For relationships I choose to take seriously or that I need to take seriously, it is incumbent on me to be a companion, and to experience a sharing of life and faith.

This is one reason why the political pro-life movement has been such a failure. Activists “know” their facts. They “know” church teaching. They “know” their political methods. But they have no “bread with” people who choose abortions. It seems like people who “know” the Lord. Perhaps they can even cite chapter and verse. But without the experience, perhaps they do not know. Not fully.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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