Listening to Your Story
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for your selves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Entering Your Sacred Story
Rules of Engagement
Sacred Story prayer, modeled on St. Ignatius’ classic examination of conscience, is a proven path to spiritual growth. It is the narrow road, but the one taken by many saints and ordinary laity in the Church’s history. If you are ready to make Christ the center of your life, you will find no better daily spiritual prayer discipline. Divine love is an abiding relationship that God invites you to share daily. Listen to the wisdom below to help prepare you to enter this relationship with God before you begin Week 1.
- If you are looking for quick fixes to spiritual or psychological problems, you will soon lose heart. The full healing of your wounds, and the path to complete peace, only begins on this earth. You will achieve no final victory for what ails you this side of eternity. However you will find the path to that final victory and it is here that you will find peace.
- If you seek only external confirmation of religious or political biases, you will be frustrated. Surrendering fixed ideologies and a judgmental heart is required fare on your Sacred Story journey.
- If you live principally by rules and laws, or if you avoid all rules and laws, you will be surprised. Those who live by laws alone will encounter the fierce Love that exceeds all laws. And those who reject laws will discover that Love has unambiguous boundaries of right and wrong.
- If you are being asked to do these spiritual exercises to fulfill someone else’s plan, or for any sort of program requirement, kindly tell your sponsor, “no thank you.” Unless you engage them in complete freedom of heart, you will fail in their practice, and undermine their purpose.
So how should you engage this prayer journey? St. Ignatius wanted people with generous hearts who were aware that they needed God’s help.
- Jesus proclaimed that the sick needed a Physician, not the well (Mk 2:17). We are all sick and only those willing to see their spiritual ills will submit to the Divine Physician’s healing embrace in these exercises. If you know you are ill, and believe you cannot get better without God’s help, welcome.
- Jesus calmed the storm that terrified His disciples (Mk 5:35-41). Engage Sacred Story prayer if you are distressed about the chaos in your life and believe God is calling you to a secure shore.
- Jesus can heal chronic illness, but He has come to forgive us our sins, and open to us eternal life (Lk 5:17-26). Engage in these exercises if you want to experience Jesus’ power to forgive your sins.
- Jesus encouraged John the Baptist and his followers not to take offense at Him when their faith in Christ brought them suffering and threats (Mt 5:2-6). Engage these exercise if the practice of your faith is causing you to suffer persecution for Christ’s sake. Hold fast to belief in Him as the Son of God and take no offense.
- Jesus invited the weary and the overburdened to find rest in Him (Mt 11:25-30). Engage these exercises if you are weary with your life and find yourself overburdened.
- Jesus invited the rich young man to surrender his possessions and follow Him (Mk 10:17-25). Engage these exercises if you are ready to let go of what is holding you down, and are willing to follow a new path.
- Jesus invited Zacchaeus to come down from his tree and follow Him home (Lk 19:1-10). Engage these exercises if your privilege, position and places of honor have not brought you the peace, security and hope they promised.
- Jesus invited the woman of Samaria to drink the living water that wells up to eternal life (Jn 4:4-42). Engage these exercises if you are ready to surrender the cynicism of failed love and relationships, are ready to forgive, and ready to move forward with your life.
- Jesus chided the work-anxious Martha to allow Mary to sit at His feet (Lk 10:38-42). Engage with these exercises if you are ready to sit still awhile, each day, and listen to the Kingdom within.
- Jesus invited Peter to join Him in His work (Lk 5:10-11). Engage these exercises if you trust that your sins, addictions and failures do not limit Jesus’ desire to take your hand in discipleship as He writes your Sacred Story.
- Jesus demanded to know the names of the Gerasene’s demons (Mk 5:1-20). Engage these exercises if you are weary of your spiritual, psychological, and material demons. Welcome these exercises if you are willing to name them, with Jesus by your side, and allow Him to exorcise and heal the spiritual and psychic darkness—the habits, sins, and addictions—that rob you of freedom and peace.
- God invited the Blessed Virgin Mary not to fear but to say yes and participate in the eternal plan of salvation (Lk 1:26-38). Engage these exercises if you are ready to let your heart be Christ’s home and so labor with Him for universal reconciliation.
- Jesus invited His disciples to dine with Him (Jn 15:1-17). Enter Sacred Story if you desire unbounded love, joy, peace and a share in Jesus’ glory — and His sufferings — that endure to eternity.
- Jesus invited anyone wishing to follow Him to deny themselves, pick up their cross daily, and follow Him (Lk 9:23). Engage these exercises if you can willingly allow Christ to reveal your narcissism and by His grace, transform your life into Sacred Story.
- Jesus invited His disciples to keep a vigilant heart, to reject carousing and drunkenness, and to avoid getting trapped in the anxieties of life, lest they be surprised on the day of the Son of Man (Lk 21:34-36). Engage these exercise if today is your day to hearken to the Son of Man, and to return to God with all your heart.
Before advancing to Week 1, we will take the time necessary to prayerfully and reflectively read one of the four Gospels Many of us have never taken the time to listen to Jesus’ story by reading, prayerfully, one of the four accounts left for us by the early followers. Only read one of the Gospels, but read it reflectively and prayerfully in a place of restful solitude. This place can be at home or some other favorite place you love to be alone in peace and quiet. Perhaps it will be your place of prayer for these next 40 weeks to allow Jesus to reveal your Sacred Story.
Which Gospel should you read? Matthew writes to convince the Jews that Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah, the Davidic King, foretold by the prophets. Mark’s focus is to reveal Jesus as the true Son of God who suffered and died to achieve complete victory over sickness, sin and death. Luke, the physician, writes to reveal Jesus as the promise and hope of the poor and the weak. And John reveals Jesus as the Logos, the Word of God, who pre-existed creation with the Father, the One who will save us. Read the Gospel that immediately speaks to your heart at this time in your life. Don’t rush your reading of the Gospel. There is no hurry. Relish The Story of the One who holds you and all creation in being.
Jesus is real and wants to become part of your daily life. He wants a relationship with you. He waits to be your hope, your forgiveness and your peace. Open your heart to Him as you read His SACRED STORY.