You have engaged all the spiritual disciplines for Sacred Story. Now is the time to ask God for help to be faithful to the relationship with Him that the prayer invites. Continue praying all the meditations in your 15-minute periods. Keep practicing all the other daily disciplines you have learned. You have all the necessary instruction. What follows are all the spiritual disciplines and insights of Sacred Story arranged at a single glance. If and when you have difficulties, temptations, stresses, fears, or anxieties associated with the daily consciousness exercise or Sacred Story prayer (when, not if!), read Sacred Story Affirmations and the Guidelines for Health and Spiritual Growth. Remember the anxieties Ignatius suffered as he began his journey. All spiritual and emotional crises soon pass. Christ Jesus will lead you home. Be not afraid!
THE DAILY DISCIPLINES AT A GLANCE
Prayer Upon Waking—Attune to the day ahead and invite God’s help
This should take about fifteen to thirty seconds. After you wake up, lay in bed and pre-vision the day ahead. What does it hold? Are you anxious or energized about the day ahead? What specific issues/persons/events are causing the anxiety and/or energy? Ask God to help you deal constructively with the anxieties or challenges, and give thanks for the events/persons that inspire energy. Ask God to keep you aware as the day progresses. Using the special name you identified, offer the day to God.
If you so desire, on Sunday morning you can do a brief pre-visioning of the week in the same way you do for a single day. You might consider looking ahead to any special feast days or saint’s anniversaries that week. Ask for their intercession for your Sacred Story at the beginning of the week and on their feast day.
Exercises During the Day—Awakening to your life
Each one of these should take no more than fifteen seconds. Consciously note the most significant events that inspire aggravation (anger, upset, fear, or temptation) or joy (gratitude, hope, faith). Every day holds many of these events. Consciously attend to the events that seem most notable by the strength of the reaction they incite in you. At the time these notable events transpire, take about ten seconds to: 1) turn to God in your heart and using your personal name for God, ask to understand why the event gripped you negatively or positively; 2) ask for graced insight to understand if the event is linked to something from the past that needs exploration/healing. Then go on with your day.
The more you engage this consciousness exercise in the day, the more readily you will remember these events at the time of your 15-minute prayer reflections on Creation, Presence, Memory, Mercy and Eternity. Every single event that happens in the day is in some way linked to one of these five meditations and your Sacred Story. But please note: do this exercise for notable events only (two or three times daily at most!). You will know which to attend to because they will grab you by the gut or the heart.
Sacred Story Prayer Mid-day—Creation, Presence, Memory, Mercy, Eternity
Exercises During the Day—Awakening to your life
Sacred Story prayer Evening—Creation, Presence, Memory, Mercy, Eternity
Sacred Story Day Journal—Briefly note two significant events of the day
This should take no more than one minute. Before going to bed, jot down the two most notable events of the day—one negative (depleting hope) and one positive (increasing hope). All you need is to note two events. Write a short phrase to remember both what the event was and your reaction to it. Here are some examples:
“Depleting Faith, Hope & Love” examples
1) Office meeting—very dispirited about things working out in the future
2) Letter from Joyce—very hurt that she excluded us from the event
3) My moral indiscretion on Saturday—how come I never seem to improve?
“Increasing Faith, Hope & Love” examples
1) The incredible sunset Tuesday—thank you God for your creation!
2) Saturday’s confession—cried because of the priest’s hopeful words
3) Bob’s medical news—Thank you God for hearing our prayers!
Prayer upon Retiring—Attune to your heart, invite God into your dreams
Week’s-end Journal—Listen for trends, patterns, and links
This should take about ten minutes. Read your journal comments from the week. Notice any patterns or trends. Did any persons appear more than once? Can you discern patterns in the events depleting hope or increasing hope? Does a certain type of failure occur at “predictable times”? Jot down any patterns you discover. Then write the two most significant “depleting hope” and “increasing hope” events from the week.
Here is a sample of this weekly journal:
“Patterns” examples with suggested insights/actions
1) Fear of being criticized always precedes my gossiping about others (perhaps I need to ask God’s help on why I fear being criticized and examine what in particular I fear. I will also pray to hold my tongue, to see what I can learn from this discipline)
2) Every time I meet Carol or someone who reminds me of Carol I get angry (I need to ask God to help me to forgive Carol)
3) I have constant anxiety around regular confession because I am afraid that the priest will think I am not a good person (I need to learn not to let fear control my decisions)
4) Three times my boss appeared in my journal (do I need to make a decision?)
5) I seem more negative than positive about God’s love for me (I need to challenge this feeling and affirm God’s love by focusing on gratitude)
Strongest “Depleting Hope” Example
“My moral indiscretion on Saturday—how come I never seem to improve?”
Strongest “Increasing Hope” Example
“Saturday’s confession—cried because of the priest’s hopeful words”
Sample note to myself: “My two examples above seem to be connected. I fear that I never seem to improve yet I also felt great hope when I went to confession. I will trust the feelings of hope and not the feelings based on fear.”
Month’s-end Journal—Listen for trends, patterns, links
This should take no more than 15-minutes. Read over your weekly summaries and do the same winnowing process with them as you did for the individual weeks.
Renew with Monthly Reconciliation—You will be powerfully graced
This should take one hour total between preparation and confession. Spend thirty minutes reading over your journal summaries and writing a one page letter to Jesus. Use the same pattern as your Whole-Life Confession. Do not write more than one page! Discipline yourself to tell the Lord the most essential things for which you need His help and forgiveness, and no more. Take your letter to Reconciliation and make your confession. Keep your letters and use them for prayer. You will see your growth and begin to understand much better the outlines of your own Sacred Story and the SACRED STORY of Jesus as well.
Consult the Affirmations Frequently—They are your thumbnail discernment aids
Consult the Guidelines for Healing and Spiritual Growth—You need them
Live Your Faith—Engage its spiritual disciplines, serving God and neighbor
SACRED STORY AFFIRMATIONS
My Sacred Story takes a lifetime to write.
Be Not Afraid: Fear comes from the enemy of my human nature.
The pathway to God’s peace and healing runs through my heart’s brokenness, sin, fear, anger and grief.
God resolves all my problems with time and patience.
I will have difficulties in this life.
There are just two ways to cope with my difficulties.
One leads to life, one to death. I will choose life.
“Impossible” is not a word in God’s vocabulary.
Sacred Story leads to my freedom and authenticity, but does not always make me feel happy.
My life’s greatest tragedies can be transformed into my life’s major blessings.
Times of peace and hope always give way to times of difficulty and stress.
Times of difficulty and stress always give way to times of peace and hope.
I will not tire of asking God for help since God delights in my asking.
The urge to stop Sacred Story practice always comes before my greatest breakthroughs.
God gives me insights, not because I am better than others, but because I am loved.
The insights and graces I need to move forward in life’s journey unfold at the right time.
My personal engagement with Sacred Story accomplishes, through Christ, a work of eternal significance.
Inspirations can have a divine or a demonic source. I pray for the grace to remember how to discern one from the other.
Christ, who has walked before me, shares my every burden.
Christ, who has walked before me, will help me resolve every crisis.
Christ, who has walked before me, knows my every hope.
Christ, who has walked before me, knows everything I suffer.
Christ, who walks before me, will always lead me home to safety.
I will strive to curb temptations to react to people and events.
I will ask myself what causes my anger and irritation at people and events.
I will seek to identify the source of my anger and irritation.
I will give thanks for what angers and upsets me;
for identifying their source will help to set me free.
I will strive to listen, watch and pray; listen, watch and pray.
I will listen, watch and pray!
Everyone has been mortally wounded spiritually, psychologically, and physically by Original Sin and the loss of paradise.
Journeying with Christ to the roots of my sins and addictions will help break their grip.
I will not waste time worrying about my sins and failures.
I will use my time wisely and ask God to help me understand the source of my sins and failings.
I will trust that Christ came to heal all my wounds.
I alone control Christ’s ability to transform my life into a Sacred Story.
The process begins when I ask for the grace to honestly name my sins and addictions.
The process continues when I invite Christ to illuminate my narcissism.
Only God’s grace and mercy can write my Sacred Story.
I will strive daily to pick up the cross, for it leads to my life.
The closer I get to holiness, the more I will see and feel sin’s disorder in my life.
The more I experience sin’s disorder, the more tempted I will be to disbelieve my life as Sacred Story.
The way through the temptation is to surrender my powerlessness to God.
It is never too late to open my heart to Christ and live my life as Sacred Story.
Christ, who is close to the brokenhearted, restores my lost innocence.
The path to my Sacred Story is Creation, Presence, Memory, Mercy, and Eternity.
TWO BENCHMARK GUIDELINES FOR SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT
To help your awakening and initiation into spiritual discernment two benchmark guidelines will be helpful in many life situations. It is important to understand that Divine inspiration called consolation does not always feel good. It is equally important to realize that unholy inspiration called spiritual desolation does not always feel bad. Both benchmarks are intended to influence the direction of our life towards or away from God in every thought, word and deed.
Benchmark One – Consolation
These specific features characterize authentic Divine inspirations called consolations. They will:
1) Increase the heart’s love for God and others.
2) Increase the virtues of docility, humility and self-generosity.
3) Not run contrary to the truths and teachings of Scripture, the
Tradition and the teaching Church.
Consolation can be the consequence of the Divine Physician’s Spirit working in you. This form of consolation helps strengthen your heart and soul, encouraging you to turn to God. Consolation helps you to understand and choose thoughts, words and deeds that express your authentic human nature made in the Divine image.
Consolation can also be the consequence of the body/spirit aspect of your Divinely-shaped human nature. God created your human nature as a gift in the Divine image and likeness. In spite of Original Sin’s impact, cooperating with God’s grace activates embedded life forces of your Divinely-shaped human nature, helping to heal biochemical, physiological and emotional imbalances; energizing you; and enabling thoughts, words and deeds that express your authentic human nature.
Benchmark Two — Desolation
These specific features characterize authentic counter-inspirations called desolations. They will:
These specific features characterize authentic counter-inspirations called desolations. They will:
1) Increase narcissism, displacing God and others.
2) Decrease docility and humility, and increase pride and self-satisfaction.
3) Arouse hungers and desires that, although they feel good, will typically contradict the truths and teachings proposed by the Scripture, Tradition, and the teaching Church. This is because the author of counter inspirations is opposed to Christ and will lead you away from life and truth. Counter-inspirations will produce desires that feel authentic because they are linked to fallen human nature’s physical lusts and spiritual pride. They are the familiar default drives of a broken heart and a broken human nature.
Desolation can be the consequence of the enemy of human nature working in you. This form of desolation helps weaken your heart and soul, encouraging you to turn from God. Desolation helps you choose thoughts, words and deeds that are opposed to your Divinely-shaped human nature.
Desolation can also be the consequence of your own fallen human nature. God created your human nature as a gift in the Divine image and likeness. Yet because of Original Sin’s impact, not cooperating with God’s grace erodes embedded life forces of your Divinely shaped human nature, helping to destroy biochemical, physiological and emotional balance; de-energizing you; and increasing thoughts, words and deeds that in opposition to your authentic human nature.
When struggling with these issues, the Guidelines for Integrated Healing and Spiritual Growth will be of help.
ATTENDING TO MY REACTION RESPONSES
ANGER, FEAR AND GRIEF
General Awareness Exercises During the Day
When you experience your manifest
sins and addictions, practice:
Declare, Describe, Descend, Denounce, and Decide
Using your own words speak personally to Christ:
Declare the specific sin, addiction, narcissistic habit or destructive compulsion as a false lover.
Describe the specific sin, addiction, narcissistic habit or destructive compulsion as coming from the enemy of your human nature.
Descend with Christ into your memory, to see and feel your first experience of this specific sin, addiction, narcissistic habit or destructive compulsion, asking Him to compassionately reveal the stress fractures, loneliness and wounds in your heart it promised to satisfy.
Denounce the sin, addiction, narcissistic habit or destructive compulsion for its ruinous effect in your life.
Decide for Christ to heal this wound, diffuse the stress, anxiety and fear feeding it, and transform its damaging effects on your life into Sacred Story.
When you are struggling with these issues, the Guidelines for Foundational Healing and Spiritual Growth will be very helpful.
ATTENDING TO MY REACTION RESPONSES
ANGER, FEAR AND GRIEF
Particular Awareness Exercises During the Day
When You Have Identified Your Particular Sin of Narcissism and React with Anger, Anxiety, Fear or Grief:
Determine if Original Sin’s principal manifestation in your life story is in the form of aggressive or passive narcissism. Take notice of the sudden anger, anxiety, fear or grief that creeps up during your day. Pay particular attention to how these emotions might be touching your narcissism, manifesting as sin and contributing to addictive tendencies. For those one or two stand-out events in a day that capture your attention, do this short exercise below.
Speak to Christ from your heart:
Ask to not react but instead to be conscious of what you are reacting to
Ask to feel the heart’s fear, temptation, anxiety, anger and grief present in the reaction
Ask for knowledge—for graced insight—to begin dismantling this immature, damaging, (aggressive-electrifying or passive-depressing) and self-glorifying process
Ask who or what initiated this particular pattern of reaction—of overpowering or blaming others—and why?
Ask for courage to face the negative story of being the aggressive winner or the passive victim. Facing this can cause panic when you are used to being its slave, but once confronted, facing it can bring you peace and freedom.
ORIGINAL SIN’S NARCISSISM IN MY LIFE STORY
|THE PASSIVE NARCISSIST||THE AGGRESSIVE NARCISSIST|
|Self-identifies as a victim.||Self-identifies as a winner.|
|Is determined to have others notice how special he/she is by pointing to his/her unfair suffering.||Is determined to have others notice how special he/she is by defeating all opponents.|
|Is cynical and excuses bad behavior by insisting it is justified because of how much he/she has suffered.||Is cynical and excuses bad behavior by insisting it is justified because he/she has earned it.|
|Wallows in self-pity when hurt, whether the hurt is real or imagined.||Is vindictive when hurt, whether the hurt is real or imagined.|
|Blames anyone who criticizes or opposes him/her.||Threatens anyone who criticizes or opposes him/her.|
|Protects him/herself from being hurt again by keeping wounds as fresh as possible. If anything is too difficult or painful, he/she will retreat into those painful memories and turn inward, away from others.||Protects him/herself from being hurt again by eradicating vulnerabilities. If anything is too difficult or painful, he/she will act in a conqueror role and dominate others.|
|Wins by emotional manipulation.||Wins by direct confrontation.|
|Is secretly attached to his/her own woundedness.||Is secretly attached to the power of defeating others.|
|Is terrified of taking control and personal responsibility and has difficulty admitting it to him/herself.||Is terrified of surrendering control and being vulnerable, and has difficulty admitting it to him/herself.|
Sacred Story Integration & Awareness Template
The Sacred Story practices awaken you to patterns of sin and dysfunction, grace and healing. The Divine Physician helps you identify and unmask the diseases caused by Original Sin, so that you can continue integrated healing and grow in interior freedom. In this wholeness you are able to serve the great Work of Reconciliation.
No thought, word or deed is ever neutral. Everything one thinks, says, or does contributes to the work of the Divine-Inspirer or the counter-inspirer. This is not a reason to become obsessed about everything you think, say or do. It is a reminder to be attentive to the spiritual reality of life, and labor with God’s grace to choose Christ.
As you listen to your life each day, keep the Sacred Story Template in mind. You are seeking a comprehensive view of the enemy of human nature’s work to keep you asleep, and a comprehensive view of the Divine Physician’s work to awaken you. Watch your life with compassionate, patient, and merciful attention. That is the way of the Divine Physician who is working for your redemption and complete, integrated healing. As your memory awakens and you become conscious of your life’s issues, you will become sensitive and discerning of movements in both directions as shown by the arrows in the template following.
The Fruit or Ornamentation
(Manifest Fear, Anger, and Grief, moral weaknesses, vices, addictions, and sinful habits that are the most visible to you)
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 events)
The Roots or Foundation
(Ancient, Originating Events that Rooted the Patterns of Disobedience and Narcissism Along with its Fear, Anger, Grief)
THE FOUR STAGES OF IGNATIUS’ CONVERSION
|A graced experience of God’s love opened Ignatius to: →
|GIVE THANKS FOR FAVORS RECEIVED ↓|
|A dissatisfaction with vain fantasies which led to surrendering to holy daydreams, characterized by consolation, which in turn: →
|PRAY FOR GRACE TO SEE CLEARLY ↓|
|Caused him to review his life and actions leading to: →
|GIVE A DETAILED ACCOUNT OF CONSCIENCE: GENERAL AND PARTICULAR ↓|
|Grief with yearning for penance and repentance for his past sins, culminating in: →
|ASK PARDON FOR ONE’S FAULTS ↓|
|Ignatius’ passion to amend his life and a desire to love God wholeheartedly. →||RESOLVE AND AMEND TO SERVE GOD|
SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER
|A enemy voice evokes Ignatius’ fear of a lifelong struggle with his sinful habits. →
|CONSCIOUS FEAR AND ANXIETY OVER SURRENDERING SINFUL AND ADDICTIVE HABITS ↓|
|Ignatius rejects the “enemy of human nature” and confronts his false promises.→
|CONFRONTING THE THREATENING “VOICE” OF SIN AND ADDICTION WITH THE “TRUTH” THAT THEY BRING DEATH, NOT LIFE. ↓|
|Peace is restored after truthfully naming sin and addiction as death dealing. →||PEACE RETURNS AND ANXIETY DISSOLVES|
SURRENDERING CONTROL AND
ADMITTING POWERLESSNESS TO SAVE ONESELF
|Ignatius’ struggle with scruples hiding his vainglory →
|The initial confrontation with one’s root sin ↓|
|Ignatius’ constant re-confessing to seek salvation by willpower alone →||The effort to control one’s root sin ONLY by personal effort or force of will ↓|
|Ignatius’ suicidal impulses, disgust and the desire to walk away from his new found faith →
|Despair and desire to give up faith when human effort alone fails
|Ignatius’ tracing the spirit of disgust to a demonic source →
|Insight that desire to reject the spiritual journey is a temptation
|Ignatius abandoning his compulsive confessing of past sins →||Admitting powerlessness to save oneself and surrendering prideful actions|
WHILE GOD WRITES OUR SACRED STORY
|Ignatius, justifying himself, anxiously recoils and focuses on his sinfulness →
|Panic over one’s salvation due to weakness and sinfulness →||PURGATION
|Ignatius, no longer fearful, regrets not having responded sooner to God’s graces →
|Sadness at slowness of one’s response to God’s love and invitation to intimacy →||ILLUMINATION
|Ignatius’ intense joy at the thought of dying and being with God →||An ardent, all-embracing love of God and desire for complete union with the Trinity →||UNION|
SACRED STORY PRAYER MEDITATIONS
Pray the whole 15-minute Sacred Story prayer once or twice daily and consciously repeat to Christ Jesus the five-word refrain whenever you are in the grip of fear, anxiety, grief or sins, addictions and destructive compulsions.
I believe God created everything in love and for love; I ask for heart-felt knowledge of God’s love for me, and for gratitude for the general and particular graces of this day.
I believe God is present in each moment and event of my life, and I ask for the grace to awaken, see and feel where and how, especially in this present moment.
I believe every violation of love committed by me and against me is in my memory, and I ask God to reveal them to me, especially those that have manifested themselves today, so I can be healed.
I believe that forgiveness is the only path to healing and illumination. I beg for the grace of forgiveness, and the grace to forgive, especially for the general and particular failures of this day, and from my past.
I believe the grace of forgiveness opens my heart, making my every thought, word and deed bear fruit that endures to eternity. I ask that everything in my life serve Christ’s Great Work of Reconciliation.
Take Lord, receive, my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will. Whatsoever I have or hold, You have given to me. I surrender it all back to you to be governed by your will. Give me only Your love and grace. This is enough for me, and I ask for nothing more. Amen.
(Ps 25: 4-5, 8-9, 10, 14)