208-209.  The Second and Following Periods

 

As we told above, the contemplations are structured like in the first exercise and each period consists of two contemplations with two repetitions and one “application of the senses”. The material for the upcoming contemplations from Appendix B “The Mysteries of the Life of Jesus Christ” is the following:

Second Period: The two contemplations are “Questioning in the house of Annas” [291] and “Interrogation the house of Caiaphas in front of the Sanhedrin” [292].

Third Period: “Trial in front of Pilate” [293] and “Pilate sends Jesus to Herod for trial” [294].

Fourth Period: “Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate for sentence” [295] and “Condemnation and way to the cross” [296]

Sixth Period: “Jesus dies on the cross” [297] “The burial of Jesus” [298]

Seventh Period: This period is devoted to what can be called “Waiting at the tomb of Jesus”[1] which instead of the usual five exercises (two contemplations, two repetitions and application of the senses) consists of two contemplations of the entire passion or an altogether unstructured contemplation of it, meanwhile the companions are called to stop frequently for as long as they feel it to consider the burial of Jesus, the weariness and grief of Mary and the disciples. This period could be particularly fruitful, similar to how the disciples might have spent that day after Jesus died, sort of remembering at the tomb of Jesus of what events have lead to this point. The companions might wish to spend some time also to speak with each other about whatever experiences they recall at this time. The whole climate of this period is quiet and advisable to arrange it in a bit relaxing manner.

209. Note

As we mentioned at the first exercise on the Last Supper, all these contemplations can be extended in time by splitting up the material assigned to it in smaller units if the companions feel fruitful to do so. Similarly in the Seventh period the contemplation of the passion can be divided in two parts followed by a review of the entire story, interspersed with the reflection on Jesus in the tomb.

On the other hand, if the companions decide that for them it is better to spend less time with the contemplation of the passion, they can do the exercises without repetitions and without the “application of the senses”. This might be the case if the companions feel that after an extended period of suffering or for other reason they need to find more joy, strength and hope again in that particular period of their life instead of staying long with sorrowful thoughts.

The length of the Third Period depends very much on personal sensibilities and determined by the general rule that it is better to stay with a material as long as it is fruitful in insights and feelings. There was a period in Christian spirituality when almost exclusively only the passion of Christ represented a “legitimate” subject for meditation; the theme of suffering was overwhelmingly stressed in confront with the fact that Jesus is risen and the joyful side of life did not get enough attention. Maybe as a reaction of the former somber attitude in spirituality there are also certain movements that one-sidedly overemphasize joy and picture a triumphant and rosy life in Christ. For many of us it might be indeed necessary to consider the hopeful and balanced message of Christianity, contemplate more and more the “face” of God, which is full of mercy, tenderness, acceptance and healing and gain a sober optimism toward life.

 

“Go and learn the meaning of the words ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’” (Mt 9:13)

 

“For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice,

and knowledge of God rather than holocausts” (Hos 6:6)

 

 



[1] Cf. Marian Cowan’s remarks of the Seventh day “At the tomb” in Cowan-Futrell, “The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola,” pp. 121-125.