In his guidebook Orientations, Fr John Veltri discusses the do’s and don’t’s of repetition in prayer. How does this work in one’s daily prayer?
Repetition means that I return to those points where I have experienced “greater consolation, desolation or greater spiritual appreciation” [Spiritual Exercises 62]. Hence I return to those points where I have experienced significant movements; not to the whole scripture passage itself; not to a parallel scripture text from another gospel. Rather I return to the remembered experience and, more importantly, to those points of the prayer exercise or parts in scripture where the experience occurred.
It’s not an academic thing, looking for some theological high point. Nor is it an exploration into analyzing one’s own psychology–why did I notice this? It is a matter of that which I noticed. Then engaging a further conversation from that opener that sparked our notice.
Just two more weeks to go in the Ignatian Year. Keep praying.
Note that St Ignatius doesn’t only refer to high points; he includes desolations as significant movements of the spirit. And desolations are not only “bottom” experiences in the modern recovery movement sense; they are also experiences bereft of directionality, the kind that often are only understood after the fact, sometimes a long time after the fact.