Week 29 Encouragements & Wisdom
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E & W reflections are additional helps for your Sacred Story prayer journey. Reflect on them ahead of your prayer exercises for the week or outside of your fifteen-minute prayer windows during the week.
Creating Your Own Encouragement and Wisdom File
St. Ignatius’ first experience of spiritual discernment was extraordinary in that God focused his attention in a new way on his ordinary thoughts and actions. God did not create a new life and history for this purpose. God simply awakened Ignatius spiritually and he saw ordinary events with new eyes. The process of spiritual awakening gained depth and breadth and never stopped growing till the day Ignatius passed to his eternal life.
Sacred Story prayer journey invites you to spiritually awaken to the ordinary events and experiences of your life. Like Ignatius, God will awaken you to see the experiences, people, events, and dreams of your life with new eyes. To help facilitate God’s work, we invite you to revisit the work you did in preparing for your life confession. During this early part of Sacred Story prayer journey, our goal was to help you see your life holistically. You have been walking this journey for over seven months now. Perhaps you have not been as regular in your practice as you would like. Nonetheless, you have gained greater sensitivity to your life and the spiritual world. You no doubt have understood things about your life in a new way. By having the materials below at the ready, you can add to them as you gain greater understanding of how each element has shaped your past history. Your skill in discernment will be graced with new insight as you look at what “you already know” but with new eyes. In doing this, you will awaken to the wisdom God wishes to give you to find greater hope, peace and freedom in all your thoughts, words and deeds.
Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth Greed, Anger
First: I am the Lord your God, you shall have no strange Gods before Me.
Second: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Third: Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
Fourth: Honor your father and mother.
Fifth: You shall not kill.
Sixth: You shall not commit adultery.
Ninth: You shall not covet your neighbor’s spouse.
Seventh: You shall not steal.
Tenth: You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
Eighth: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
A Commandment That Challenges Me
Vices That Ensnare Me
Addictions I Live With
Persons/Events That Generate Fear, Anger or Grief
Persons/Events That Generate Faith, Hope or Love
Story Lines in Books, Movies etc. That Always Bring Me To Tears
What Always Makes Me ANGRY
What Always Makes me GRATEFUL
What Always Inspires Fear In Me
My Primary Sensual Fantasy
My Primary Holy Fantasy
Fill in the second diagnostic chart below, with the goal to write at least 3 of the 5 things in each category. Contemplate the diagnostic chart, praying to see if there are any obvious links between Commandments, vices, addictions, and persons/events and drawing lines linking the connections that are clear to you.
|Five Commandments I Am Most Challenged in Living||Five Vices that Ensnare Me||Five Addictions I Live With||Five Persons/Events That Engender Fear, Anger or Grief|
Contemplate the stories below of the life outlines of the fictional characters Barbara and Jeff at the root, trunk and the fruit. Every person is born into this world with desires for eternal life and unconditional love. The loss of both eternal life and unconditional love due to sin’s rupture means we experience limitations, partial love and are prone to disease, stress, weakness and death. Sin’s damage is set in stone before our birth. Yet the history of original sin has specific shape due to our own family, clans, nationalities and cultures. By reflecting on the fictional life outlines of Jeff and Barbara, see if you can come up with your own real life outline. The outline helps give a specific shape to your life narrative. This will help you in the work of spiritual discernment we now engage.
THE ROOTS OR FOUNDATIONS
Ancient, Originating Events that Rooted the Patterns of Disobedience and Narcissism along with its Fear, Anger, Grief
Barbara’s mother and dad were both exceptionally gifted and driven. As an only child, Barbara internalized her mom’s anxiety about her looks and self-worth and her dad’s aggressiveness and win at all costs mentality. She was spoiled if she performed to meet the demanding standards of both parents and snubbed if she failed to live up to those standards. Her self-worth was tied to tasks perfectly executed. As a result, she was constantly anxious to please and fearful of failure.
Jeff, the youngest of five siblings, grew up in a lower middle class family. They were Church of the Nazarene Christians. His upbringing with four older sisters was strict. His parents did not believe in overt displays of emotion and providing for material needs was their way of saying “I love you.” The family went to Church twice weekly and favored the town’s strictest pastor. The child Jeff was shaped profoundly by Sunday sermons on humanity’s fallen nature, evil and hell. Also, he suffered many childhood illnesses including severe allergies that kept him indoors much of the time.
THE TRUNK OR SUPERSTRUCTURE
Disobedience and Narcissism, along with its Fear, Anger, and Grief, that Forms the Trunk or Superstructure of Your Daily Life, Feeding on Originating Sins and Event
Barbara was very bright. She was highly competitive in everything she did and driven to beat both the boys and girls in every test of academic achievement. She was an aggressive narcissist who stirred both fear and envy in others. Terribly self-conscious about her looks, she was determined to make her mark by graduating at the top of every class. Her barometer for right and wrong tended to be linked to what served her purpose in staying on top.
Jeff had always believed his many childhood illnesses meant he might not be saved. Never conveying his anxieties to anyone in his family, he became very religious and all assumed he would become a preacher, even in first grade. He developed a highly judgmental personality about his own failings and those of others. He also suffered much from depression and migraines and this made him an even stricter observer of his Christian beliefs.
THE FRUIT OR ORNAMENTATION
Manifest Fear, Anger, and Grief, moral weaknesses, vices, addictions, and sinful habits
That are the most visible to you
Barbara gossiped about girls she considered overweight. She also had a binge and purge problem. Being self-conscious about her looks, she alternated between shunning boys and being a tease. She was usually too obsessed with her school work to go to Mass regularly. Since so much of her self-worth was attached to academic success, she not only became a workaholic with academics, but also cheated occasionally if a class grade was threatening her overall GPA. She had a sharp tongue and was cynical about the “lazy people” who wanted everything for free.
Jeff had a mental collapse as a freshman in high school and joined a support group. He encountered a Catholic student his own age and against his parents’ wishes, joined the Catholic Church in his junior year. He was drawn to the Latin Rite Masses but also became quite involved in drinking, drugs and casual sexual encounters during college. After college, he entered the Trappists after making a retreat at a local abbey. He liked the order for its strict observance of the rules. He continues to struggle with his sexual urges as a young monk and finds himself always judgmental of his brother monks. He struggles with his pride in thinking that he might one day become abbot if he can live the rule better than the other young monks.
Based on the sample stories of Barbara and Jeff above and your diagnostic charts, write a short narrative about your own life. Create a thumbnail sketch of your original, core and manifest sins. This is a positive exercise that will help you in the work of spiritual discernment. God looks upon you with great kindness as you seek to unravel the mystery of unfreedom in your life so you can grow more fully and completely into the child of God that is your destiny in Christ.
Original Sins — The Roots of My Tree
Core Sins — The Trunk of My Tree
Manifest Sins — The Fruit from My Tree