Day 4 – Novena in Preparation for the “When the Christian Faith Takes Flesh” Seminar

Prayer for Those Who Have Turned Away

We can understand death and sickness and even poverty, Lord; but how can anyone turn away from you after having known your grace? That is an unfathomable mystery to us. After all, it would be quite easy for you to make the signs of your grace so obvious that no one could have any more doubts about them or to bring back those who are leaving with a gentle call: and you do not do it, in your wisdom, you do not do it. Lord, allow us just the same to beg you with our whole soul that our cry might pierce through the lukewarmness of those who are drawing back; let our members suffer for them, accept every sacrifice for them, only, we implore you, enable them to return, make it easy for them, and in exchange let us pay the price that you deem just. We will try to give you what you take, but grant them anew your faith, your grace. And at the same time we know that we ourselves take our faith too lightly and are given over and over again to promises that seem hard when it comes time to keep them. Lord, grant us all your mercy and strengthen our weakness. Amen.

With St. Ignatius of Loyola we pray:

(The Suscipe Prayer)


Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory be.

Father, we ask that through the intercession of Adrienne von Speyr those called to live Christian discipleship might do so with ever-greater fidelity. Grant that, day-by-day, your love might burn and your Spirit might blow more intensely within us. In the presence of the Mother of your Son, your angels and saints, and the whole heavenly court, we beg this grace in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Items for Reflection – Man’s Existential Condition

A. The ever-greater God

He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Why do you still have no faith?” (Mk 4:40)

“Still no faith.” Let us contemplate this “still” on its own. The Lord is greater than we think; at every moment, he can give new proofs of his ever-greater power. No one can say, “Now I know exactly how great is the Lord’s power.” The person who said this would at the same time be proclaiming that he knew just as exactly the extent of his own powerlessness. It is also not enough to say, “I know that God is almighty.” For what is all-encompassing might? But if we know that God’s might in his service is greater than anything we can imagine as “almighty”, then we know that God is the ever-greater, and we know, too, that our faith must adapt itself to this ever-greater. Of course, no one can say, “Today I believe this much, tomorrow it will be a little more, in a year quite a bit more, and five years from now even more”, for in saying this he would be claiming to have precisely that view of the whole of his faith that no one can have. We must leave this view to the Lord. But the Lord accepts faith, Christian faith, in such a way that he allows it to grow together with an insight he gives (which has its source in his view of the whole). Insight into God and faith in him grow together, because the Lord gives himself to the believer more and more.

Let us take an example from daily life. Someone says to a child, “God is big.” Then the child will ask, “Is God bigger than my big brother or my father or my uncle?” In order to grasp God’s greatness, the child will draw on comparisons from his surroundings. The child grows and learns about other powers and authorities than those in his own family, and when his question about God’s greatness leads him again to measure God against earthly greatness, he will choose for the latter measure something significantly greater than before. It is like this with our faith and its insight. Earthly values soon no longer suffice as a point of comparison. We must contemplate God himself, in faith, and seek proofs here for the greatness of the Lord. And only when the proofs are no longer enough for us, when we can no longer draw any comparisons, do we suddenly recognize, truly and objectively, that the Lord is always greater.

Mark: Meditations on the Gospel of Mark, meditation 110

B. Nothingness and limit

There comes a moment in every man’s life when he begins to reflect on his place in the whole of the cosmos, on his future, and on the limits of what he can do. But he cannot think about his future without making his past part of the present moment. He sees what he has planned and achieved so far; he also sees everything that has not been achieved, the failed remainder, which perhaps stands before him as his own failure. He remembers days of work, days of rest, his nights, his daydreams, the great deal that he has received, and the little that he has given. He sees that it will not be easy to balance the books because so many seeds have not borne fruit. Many entries are left with question marks next to them; occasionally there is a successful item that could be marked with a round figure. And yet, it is not at all clear that this figure is really round; it is part of a series along with so many other figures that do not come out right.

And now man plans. He draws conclusions from his experiences. He wants to reach farther and different goals. But suddenly he hesitates: whatever plan he makes, he must always reckon with himself. He cannot envision any future that fully satisfies him, because he cannot count on any full performance from himself. He knows himself well enough to realize that he will always be an obstacle to himself because he does not remain faithful to his best resolutions. Wherever he turns, he encounters his limits. And yet he must go on, and he cannot do this unless he has before him a road, a destination, an image of his future—unless he undertakes something that satisfies him and that he brings about by his own power.

Once again he looks back on his past. He attempts to take a sober look at the obstacles that he himself placed on the path, to draw up an account of all that he has neglected. He tries to do this in a spirit in which he calls things by name and perceives the truth about the forces at work. None of this is easy, because as soon as he gives these failures their real name, he becomes painfully aware of his own responsibility. This failure humiliates him, and now things might seem darker to him than they really are. His confidence in the future wavers. He realizes how much remains undone; how often something was tried, abandoned, and forgotten again. The very first difficulty threw him off track; he simply gave up.

The past weighs on him and paralyzes his new resolutions. He knows beforehand that it will not work. He looks around in search of heroes who made up their minds to do some great work and did not let anything keep them from it. He would gladly be such a person, with the corresponding strength, ability, and perseverance. There is no end to his wishes and yearnings, but resignation debilitates them. He knows that, when all is said and done, he is no hero. Everything about him is futile.

  1. The New Meaning of Nothingness

It may occur to him that there are also Christian heroes. In their lives things really have been performed and accomplished, things whole and holy. If we examine more closely what they have done, if we try to penetrate into the mechanism of their achievement, we find aspects that can be understood together with a great deal that remains opaque. And yet the deed stands there in its rounded integrity, and it is impossible to detect any seams in it. This is curious, disturbing, and unsettling. From where does this unity come? Suddenly it becomes clear: In the Christian hero, the saint, man’s nothingness is overcome. It has been absorbed into holiness. This indivisibility is grace, and it comes from God. God takes care of his own to the point of completely enveloping and covering them with his grace. But they are not buried underneath it, and they do not lose their distinctive face; they are not paralyzed by the weight of an excessive giving. Rather grace permeates, saturates, and sets aglow their entire being and places them in a new physical condition. Grace unites itself to man’s innermost being; it produces in the saint, as it were, an incarnation that reenacts the Incarnation of the divine Son. Christ is God who became man in order to perform as God-man his integral, seamless deeds. The saint is a graced man and is permitted to perform equally integral deeds. By God’s arrangement and action, grace and man have become a single reality. The resulting work retains the properties of both—those of man and those of grace—but forever united.

Whoever considers this successful outcome understands that man’s nothingness represents a state of deficiency. Man lacks something. His sin has moved him away from the place where he should and could stand. He can, of course, fool himself into thinking that through sin he merely has strayed onto a bypath from which he still sees the right way. But deep down he knows better. He no longer sees the right way. He has become entangled in a thicket that his eye can no longer pierce in any way. Reflection alone cannot help him find the way out. He does not know how best to use his remaining strength. He needs grace for this, and therefore he must first of all submit. He must make himself so light that grace outweighs everything else in him. He must forget himself—this is the only true conclusion that follows from the recognition of his nothingness—in order to allow grace to stream into the empty space that he is.

As far as he is concerned, then, he is incapable of imitating the Christian hero. He cannot set off on his own to follow him. And nevertheless the image remains, the example with its radiant, inviting appeal. On the one side, he stands with his failure, his doubts, and with the need to make plans for his life that he knows he cannot sustain. On the other side stands the round deed of the apostolic man that shines upon him, challenges him, and fascinates him. Yet he realizes that he cannot leap over the intervening gulf by imitating from this side the deeds of a person who is on the other side. Rather he must get out of himself. The first comprehensive deed concerns the ‘‘I’’ itself. He must go out of himself; he must step outside of his own self. And this is a sort of annihilation, a forgetting and a losing of himself, and a call for a new solitude. It is a bursting of his own center in order to free up space for God, who enters into this center and from there makes something new out of him. Who above all takes him into his service. This possession must become the unifying point in him, but he will not be able to occupy, fix, or experience this point himself. He is catapulted out of the limits of this nothingness, but he cannot trace this described trajectory, because he has surrendered and lost himself.

All at once the word ‘‘nothingness’’ acquires a new meaning for him; it is now nothing more than a signal, a warning sign.

Man Before God, pp. 7-11

Items for Reflection – Principle and Foundation

A. The “para” as the the essence of man’s sanctity

“Man is created in order to…” this is most appropriately the definition of man and even more that of the saint. In this “para,” man ought to give testimony to the actual essence of his sanctity, to appropriate the “para” as his nature.


B.  “Praise, reverence, and service”

Why are they listed in this order? Praise comes first in order to emphasize the moment of joy. Reverence comes forth from joy and gives it the necessary distance, the correct measure. Service grows out of joy and distance. To be allowed to praise out of joyful love, the distance of reverence absolutely must grow, otherwise the one praising would become unbearable to the one being praised. He would be pushy, annoying, and tedious with his continual praise. Therefore, love itself demands one step back. Only then will one see what about the beloved love has to praise. This free realm between both is required; otherwise, the love will choke. Thus, the right service arises from both praise and reverence together, and so it is as much an expression of joyful praise as it is of reverent distance.

If one wanted to begin with service, it would be a lifeless duty. It could certainly happen that reverence and, ultimately, love would accrue to this duty. But because we are people chosen by God and have this duty to serve only within our relationship of having been chosen, God gives us the joy of praise at the beginning, and, in order to be able to gage it correctly, he give us reverence.

The concept of reverence encapsulates everything that distances us from God. He is the Holy One; we are the sinners. But in order that this thought does not oppress us, God gives us praise, love, and joy still before he gives us the consciousness of the distance. Furthermore, reverence also has the significance of making us into persons. With pure praise and service, we would never become conscious of being an “I,” but this we must do in order to be able to fulfill our destiny. On the other hand, if we only knew reverence, we would remain within the “First Week” of the Exercises.

“Praise, reverence, service” embody in themselves an ascending order, for service contains each of the preceding in itself and fulfills them. And yet, man loves joy the most, and God has placed this joy at the outset. He has given it to us together with our existence. But ultimately, we are not there for ourselves, but for God; therefore, joy’s point of departure must set itself in motion, in order to reach its fulfillment in service. Service, although it is a renunciation of the pure being-for-oneself, is nevertheless the only real fulfillment of joy. The three thus relate to one another similarly to the way the Persons of the Trinity do: there is a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion, but likewise also a circulation and a pouring of life, an eternal there and back—and indeed, one in eternal, reciprocal fertilization.


C.  Meaning of Christian Indifference

Indifference has nothing in common with contempt for things; but nor indeed with attachment to them. Rather, we stand ready for anything – even to consider everything as nothing…

Indifference is not a refusal of sensation. For we have received the five senses from God. Our Holy Father [Ignatius] does not praise those people who find the good things of this world bad and the bad ones useful sheerly for mortification of the good senses. The distinctive features of things, which are given sensibly, are to remain. Otherwise, indifference would amount to contempt for what God has given us for pleasure. He has given us the senses as possibilities for enjoyment. Whether in a particular case enjoyment is permitted, the will of God decides for us in indifference. As soon as this will is known as positive, the way is opened to enjoyment. If God does not open this way to us, then one must keep the senses from it; and when the senses have to pass through some circumstance of that kind, one has to turn away from the enjoyment of it […].


The will of God […] can become for us the only important thing to which everything else seems unimportant, indifferent: the will of God will make it what it is for us. Thus, what we feel as pain and humiliation, or as honor and joy, can be completely irrelevant, if God so demands. We are not, therefore, indifferent in the sense that it no longer makes any impression upon us; on the contrary, everything is to make the impression which God has intended, and which is determined by the orientation of our will toward God. Suffering can give us pain as the greatest joy, insofar as the meaning of it in God is pain or joy; just as natural pleasure can change into an unbearable torment if we know that it contradicts the will of God. It is precisely in the sphere of naturally indifferent things, as far as they concern ourselves, that the sense of the Christian for the orientation toward God is honed. The feeling of whether something is intended for us, or not, is displaced in favor of the feeling of whether it is intended for God or not; things that, when related to us are really irrelevant, acquire, when related to God, a positive or negative value.


Katholische Briefe II, 234


Day 3 – Novena in Preparation for the “When the Christian Faith Takes Flesh” Seminar

Prayer for Constancy

Lord our God, give your children ready perseverance in loving you. You know all too well what we are like: moved by your goodness when it comes to us unexpectedly, dismayed by your severity when it reveals itself to us with its demands. When we live through happy or hard days, we think of you, seeing what comes from you; but in the monotony of every day we grow lukewarm, we forget you, we keep you far from our thoughts and from our action, as if we needed you only on the eventful days, as if we wanted to have you at our disposal. We beg you, change this, let us turn back while there is time, act decisively, tear out our tepidity, replace it with fire or cold or with both at once, only, allow your Spirit to blow in us. Destroy everything that is not yours, and let us think no thought whose center is not you, so that by this destruction we are compelled to a livelier love. We do not demand of this love that it be painful or delightful, only that it be yours, forevermore. Lord, give us the grace to offer you again and again what you have given us. Only in this way will we unprofitable servants not remain fruitless. Bless your love in us, so that it may yield the fruits that you desire. Amen.

With St. Ignatius of Loyola we pray:

(The Suscipe Prayer)

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory be.

Father, we ask that through the intercession of Adrienne von Speyr those called to live Christian discipleship might do so with ever-greater fidelity. Grant that, day-by-day, your love might burn and your Spirit might blow more intensely within us. In the presence of the Mother of your Son, your angels and saints, and the whole heavenly court, we beg this grace in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Day 2 – Novena in Preparation for the “When the Christian Faith Takes Flesh” Seminar

Prayer for Indifference

Lord, you know that I would like to serve you but that I am still attached to my work and to my judgment; that I am constantly scurrying back into myself to survey everything from my angle of vision: that I do this in order not to do that, that I desire this and loathe that. Whereas you showed us in every moment of your earthly life, and especially on the Cross, what it means to do the will of another. For you this other was the Father, the Father who is so perfect that you regarded every one of his decisions as perfect and accepted it in advance, without sizing it up first yourself. Not because of any judgment you might have arrived at after trying and weighing each case, but out of love. Your love for the Father took the place of your personal scrutiny once and for all. And you have also given the gift of this love to your saints; and your saint Ignatius has spoken and has written about it and has shown how the will of the superior, the will of the Father, the divine will pure and simple, is the decisive motive for the one who loves, for the one who no longer cares for anything but the wish of the beloved.

Grant us a share in this power of your Sonship, allow us to learn to love the Father in the way that you love him, to come to him through you and your filial attitude, to become obedient by the strength of your perfect obedience, to become indifferent by your indifference.

Grant that we may no longer seek our own interests in anything, but that, together with Saint Ignatius, our interest may go immediately to you, and we ourselves may become indifferent to the very core of our heart; not in order to lose all interest in you and the world, but in order to begin, at long last, to love you and the Father in the Holy Spirit above all things. Amen.

With St. Ignatius of Loyola we pray:

(The Suscipe Prayer)

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory be.

Father, we ask that through the intercession of Adrienne von Speyr those called to live Christian discipleship might do so with ever-greater fidelity. Grant that, day-by-day, your love might burn and your Spirit might blow more intensely within us. In the presence of the Mother of your Son, your angels and saints, and the whole heavenly court, we beg this grace in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


Items for Reflection – Creaturelisness

A. Creation ordered to the Son and to hope

His creation’s first answer was to let itself be created, to let itself become a reality, one whose ultimate meaning was meant to rest in God but that also possessed meaning in its creaturely essence. God separated the water from the dry land, and, in this separation, the earth became an important symbol. The earth is the sure ground on which men can stand. For everything was planned for man, whom God created last of all. He handed over everything to him so that it would belong to him. This handing over was meant with the utmost sincerity and was never revoked. It placed man in a permanent relationship with the surrounding world, which was God’s gift to him. In God’s eyes, occupying man in this way was meant already to be like a prayer, for man was meant to see in created things what God had given him. He was to be able to do this by virtue of his senses and reason, in what he saw, heard, felt, and experienced. He was furnished with a sensory nature and with knowledge, and, through these, he can echo and adjust to the things over which he has dominion. However, God stands behind each and every perception and adjustment. This means, not that God allows himself to be restricted or tied down to the measure of things and experiences, but rather that his voice remains always audible. The more simple things are, the more conceivable God appears. It is not that he allows things to contain him; rather, they are signs of his presence, which can be neither diminished by the finitude of the world nor consigned to a particular space; it nonetheless remains true presence. This presence is something neither vague nor questionable: it is the presence of the Creator toward whom points the meaning that resides in created things. It is not that God’s meaning is made finite in elements, in plants, and in animals, like something exhaustible; but things can be either quiet or loud reminders that the invisible Creator lives, has created them, and, far from abandoning them, has them permanently in his care. The human spirit, which experiences and contemplates these things, is reminded by their presence of God’s existence.

The Boundless God, pp. 1-2

B. “Man is created…”

One should not represent man as a completed creature, but rather should explain, by reference to the sacrament of baptism, how even the child is already created in order to glorify the Father. Even passively being carried to baptism is an act by which the child glorifies God—indeed, the pregnancy of the woman should already be such an act: she should not only thank God that she has conceived a child, but should do so together with her child and as her child’s representative. Both glorify God in their unity.

The child is not free as to whether he will glorify God. This is his job, which he necessarily carries out. He is not there so that the parents can rejoice in him and glorify one another, but rather to glorify God. Therefore, the parents must for some time do it as his representatives. Ignatius shows the child in all the stages of his development, his job in each of these, and its recognition by the parents. The parents must constantly observe the child from the perspective that he has to glorify God.

One should carry the truth of the Foundation far beyond the Exercises, into every catechesis. At each level of development, the Foundation should again be explained anew. It is often very difficult for a child to understand his own place in the world, to situate himself. With such an explanation, one could reconfigure much of the turmoil of the formative years, to bring it more life and direction. Often, one shows children only dogma and has them memorize many things. But very often they do not know for what purpose it is all good. Ignatius puts his finger on the “para.” Perhaps children learn through some actions one offends God, sins. But they do not learn that they interiorly become sinners because they neglect their life’s purpose: to glorify God. The painful time of puberty, in which the adolescent desires to seek and situate himself, would appear completely differently if it did not happen so egoistically, if from the outset it appeared in light of service, which is always already familiar as a solid relationship. This could offer a kind of point of rest, a kind of protective enclosure within which everything could be reconfigured. Later, in maturity, the “hedge” could fall away and everything could become free and open. Children and adolescents can understand this thoroughly, if it is correctly explained to them.

Above all, train parents! Christian parents are indeed accustomed to see their children as gifts from God, but somehow at the same time they regard themselves without reference to their children’s service. Service begins with existence. It does not state, “The adult is created…,” but rather, “Man is created….”

Ignatiana. Die Nachlasswerke: Band XVI, pp. 337-339,
translated by Robert Van Alstyne, S.J.

C. Underway to God

By having been created, we are already essentially on the way to the Son. For we were created for his sake and with him as our goal. Consequently, the measure of time and space is also with him, although this measure is unknown to us. What space, what time must we traverse in order to reach the Son? We know only that it is the time of our life, though we do not know the ‘‘hour’’. The space is the Church, but we cannot measure out this space. We were created to journey toward the Son for the duration of our lives, which we live out in the Church. But since we lack both measures, a new uncertainty comes over us: we feel ourselves suspended in the void. All that is ours enters into the mystery of God, even as it also comes forth from the mystery of God. God gives us all the necessary provisions for our pilgrimage, but the source of the giving remains in him, because he is love.

And this love of God who is other, this ‘‘other’’ love, remains so overwhelmingly great that everything we undertake to imitate it can be no more than an attempt. We are like children who try to imitate the gestures of adults, their father at work, for example. But this is play. We do not perform the action itself. The meaning of the father’s gesture lies in his work. That the child does out of love something meaningless that the father does meaningfully is touching. In the same way, the man who loves God imitates something he sees God doing. He knows that his imitation is feeble and is meaningful only as an imitation of that which has all its meaning in God. The believer can do nothing else than show the Father in this way that he has understood something of the Son’s reference and that he speaks a Yes to which God alone can give content and fullness.

Man before God, pp. 25-26

Items for Reflection – Disponibility

1:44-45. Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

The first recruiting of the Disciples was easy, for it took place among blood brothers. Now for the first time an outsider enters the circle. The first confrontation takes place, the first dialogue about the truth of Christianity. Philip does not try to convince in any other way than by witnessing: “We have found.” He says not we have met but we have found. In this lies for him the strength of the proof. They have found, so they have sought; an openness was in them to accept someone. They were like people knowing that somewhere a task is awaiting them but not knowing of what it consists. At present they can do no more than to be ready for this task, remain in a state that they recognize to be one of seeking without being able to say what it is they are seeking. They know only that they are on a way but that the goal toward which they are walking does not depend on them. They have to be ready for one whom they do not know, about whom they know only that they must be at his disposal. They even have no idea whether they will suit him or not, whether he will seek them or not. All they know is that the whole decision rests with him and in no way with themselves; their only task is to seek him and place themselves at the disposal of him the unknown. In addition, they know that their openness is the response to a demand already made, that it is the entire and sufficient response. It is this response that matters, and in this point they must not fail. If they fulfill this one thing, openness in order to be able to find, or rather allow themselves to be found, then they have fully done their task. A final point has been put behind their past life. What will happen after this finding and being found will be of a different nature. In this new life they will forever lag behind their task, for everything will now become infinite and beyond their capacity to understand; every calculation and comprehension will cease. But first there is this finishing point, which will also be a starting point. At this point demand and fulfilment are one. It is the turning point when the Law is fulfilled and the Old Covenant passes over into the New Covenant; a visible and firmly marked point before the eternal movement in the new life of love begins. For one moment there is perfection: what is meant to be, exists. Then everything begins to move again, and love will become so quick and will grow to such a degree that man will never be able to come equal with it. The task that the Lord is going to set will always be one that could have been fulfilled more perfectly, because love has no limits in the vertical direction. Now, however, they have found. In this indivisible meeting point between Old and New Covenant, between Law and love, they have found the Lord as the one whom they expected together with the Law and the prophets: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. In this encounter they have found their Master, the one who will always remain their Master because to have found him means to go on finding him ever anew and be allowed to seek him ever anew for all eternity.

von Speyr, Adrienne (1994) John Vol 1 pp 156-157  Ignatius Press

Each person brings himself along when he comes to pray; and if he is inexperienced in prayer, what he brings with him will mostly bear the stamp of his personal problems and daily life. Then he will learn that, in prayer, even if he asks for something or for clarity in a matter that is important to him personally, a reorganization always takes place. What he regarded as essential may become quite unimportant from God’s point of view. What seemed easy he may now find difficult. He cannot calculate how this change is going to take place, so he must be ready to fit his arrangements in with God’s. In prayer he will learn what shape God now wishes to give to his nature, his abilities and his current situation, in the context of grace and supernature. Even if this nature is already Christian, if prayer is properly cultivated it will continually be exposed to the reshaping power of grace and will be subordinated to God’s nature—which, for us, is always supernatural—as its rule of life. The supernatural possesses the orientation, the importance and the countenance of God and his truth. So in prayer it is crucial that nature should be in a state of indifference regarding grace in order to be open and accessible to God’s nature. The person who perseveres in the attitude of prayer will experience the effect of grace on nature as the real constant in his life. He will enter each succeeding prayer with an ever-growing renunciation of what he thinks of as his own and of all he has preconceived, planned and explained, letting himself be led by grace more and more. In his own affairs he will experience the blowing of the Spirit. He will come to see that he has been handed over as a victim and that in his sacrifice and his desolation (which may be subject to very natural causes) he has been permitted to know the consolation of the experience of God. He will realize that consolation does not consist in seeing his earthly life pursuing its course according to his will and expectation, but in God adopting him into his providence and fashioning his destiny. On earth he may have to drag the same problems around with him to the very end; yet, from a Christian point of view, he may continually enjoy God’s consolation, which is to experience his truth. Prayer becomes renewal, and renewal becomes truth, and truth becomes the presence of God. As time goes by he will learn so to long for this presence that he will mention his own natural affairs less and less, until he almost forgets them when he comes before God, letting God alone speak. No longer will he try to force God in some direction of his own: He will leave the whole area open for the divine direction, for the Spirit.

von Speyr, Adrienne (1985). The World of Prayer pp 296-297. Ignatius Press.

Day 1 – Novena in Preparation for the “When the Christian Faith Takes Flesh” Seminar

Prayer for Renewal of Spirit

Dear Lord, you see how we get used to everything.
It was with joy that we once took up your service, firmly resolved to be totally dedicated to you.
But because every day brings nearly the same thing over and over again, it seems that our prayer has contracted.
We limit it to ourselves and to what we deem necessary for the task we have to perform right now, so that in the end our prayer has been reduced to the dimensions of this small chore.
We beseech you now, do not permit us to become so narrow.
Give us new breadth, give us once more something of the elastic vigor of Mary’s Yes, which is ready for the entire divine will, which always remains as wide as it was when it was first pronounced, and which is ratified anew every day.
Whether Mary rejoiced or was afraid or hoped, whether she was tired from her daily round of duties or was being led to the Cross:
she always stood before you as if for the first time, was always obedient to whatever you said, always hoped to be allowed to do all that you wished, always saw behind every one of your wishes, even the most insignificant, the great, unlimited will of the Father, which you, her Son, were fulfilling.
Grant that we may contemplate and affirm you and your Church, and carry out the requirements of our mission in an ever new spirit, the spirit of the Mother’s Yes.
Grant also that we may pray for this spirit.
We know that wherever you send your Spirit, you yourself are present.
The Spirit brought you to your Mother, the Spirit enabled her to carry you, to give birth to you, to surround you with care.
And because you recognized your own Spirit in her, you formed your Church from her.
And since you have called us into this Church: make of every one of us a place where the Spirit of your Church blows, where, together with you and with the help of the Holy Spirit, the will of your Father, of our Father, is done, so that we may dare to pray in earnest:
“You, our Father, who art in heaven…” Amen.

With St. Ignatius of Loyola we pray:

(The Suscipe Prayer)

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory be.

Father, we ask that through the intercession of Adrienne von Speyr those called to live Christian discipleship might do so with ever-greater fidelity. Grant that, day-by-day, your love might burn and your Spirit might blow more intensely within us. In the presence of the Mother of your Son, your angels and saints, and the whole heavenly court, we beg this grace in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Holy Is His Name – Mary’s Magnificat, Word by Word with Sonja Corbitt

The Name of the Lord is salvation, so that Jesus can promise, “anything you ask in my Name, I will do it” (Jn 14:13-14).

The third commandment, “You shall not take the Name of the Lord God in vain,” is most often applied to cursing or similar abuse of His name, but in the Scriptures “vanity” is consistently used to illustrate worthlessness, emptiness, or futility (see Ecclesiastes). Therefore, rather than something we necessarily do, it is more often something we don’t do.

When we neglect to call on the Name of the Lord when we need help (salvation), we have taken His name in vain. His name lies empty for us. We do not know it or experience it, and so we render it worthless in our lives. This is the fullness of what it means to “take the Name of the Lord in vain.”

For other episodes in this series, visit the Discerning Hearts Sonja Corbitt page

Scripture References for The Show

Luke 1:46-55, the words of the Magnificat

And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is on those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
52 he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women,” (Luke 1:28), the angel to Mary.

“Blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42), Elizabeth to Mary

“Holy Mary,” (Luke 1:48), blessed = beatified, holy

“Mother of my Lord,” (Luke 1:48), Elizabeth

Episode Resources

Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

Proverbs 18:10, The Name of the Lord is strong tower.

Judges 13, Manoah and his wife see the angel of the Lord. “So Manoah arose and followed his wife. When he came to the Man, he said to Him, ‘Are You the Man who spoke to this woman?’ And He said, ‘I am’” (Judg. 13:11). “Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing is secret?” (13:18). “secret, too wonderful, mysterious”

Exodus 3:14-15, God reveals His Name to humanity.

Exodus 34:5, God reveals His “glory” to Moses in the cleft of the Rock, and His “glory” is His Name.

List of some of the “names” God’s people gave Him throughout the scriptures:

  •  Jehovah-Nissi (Ex. 17:15)                              The-Lord-My-Banner (flag)
  •  Jehovah-Raah (Ps. 23:1)                                The-Lord-My-Shepherd
  •  Jehovah-Jireh (Gen. 22:14)                           The-Lord-Will-Provide
  •  Jehovah-Rapha (Ex.15: 26)                           The-Lord-That-Healeth
  •  Jehovah-Shalom (Judg. 6:24)                       The-Lord-Is-Peace
  •  Jehovah-Shamma (Ez. 48:35)                        The-Lord-Is-There
  •  Jehovah-Sabaoth (1 Sam. 1:3)                        The-Lord-Of-Hosts (armies)
  •  Jehovah-Tsidkenu (Jer. 23:6)                        The-Lord-Our-Righteousness
  •  Jehovah-Oz (Is. 12:2)                                       The-Lord-My-Strength
  •  YAH (Ps. 68:4; poetic form of Yahweh)       The-Lord-Is-A-Poet
  •  Jehovah-Mekoddishkem (Lev. 20:8)            The-Lord-Who-Sanctifies-You
  •  Qanna (Ex. 34:14)                                             Jealous
  •  Jehovah-Baal (Is. 54:5)                                   The-Lord-Your-Husband
  •  Jehovah-Derek (Judg. 18:6)                          The-Lord-Your-Way
  • Jehovah-Zimrath (Ex. 15:2)                            The-Lord-My-Song
  • Jehovah-Nasa (Ps. 99:8)                                 The-Lord-Who-Forgives
  • El Roi (Gen. 16:13)                                            The-God-Who-Sees

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth” (Phil. 2:9-10).

“‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Deut. 5:11).

This week’s LOVE exercise (interactive scripture meditation, or lectio divina) is based on an Augustinian* personality approach. Go on! Try it!

Listen (Lectio)

As you read through the words of the following verse, imagine Jesus saying these words directly to you.

“Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (Joh 14:13-14).

Observe (Meditatio)

Read this verse again, emphasizing each word in turn, like this:

“Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (Joh 14:13-14).

“Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (Joh 14:13-14).

“Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (Joh 14:13-14).

“Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (Joh 14:13-14).

“Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (Joh 14:13-14).

“Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (Joh 14:13-14).

Emphasize each word in turn until you have stressed the all. What do you notice?

Verbalize (Oratio)

What does a concentration on every one of Jesus’ words, here, tell you personally? What does Jesus want you to know? What does He want you to do now?

Tell Him, now, what’s on your heart.

Entrust (Contemplatio)

Perhaps you’d like to take a few minutes to simply wonder in this extraordinary promise and entrust yourself to Him anew.


*Interactive scripture meditations, LOVE Exercises, vary weekly according to the four personalities, or “prayer forms,” explored in Prayer and Temperament, by Chester Michael and Marie Norrisey: Ignatian, Augustinian, Franciscan, and Thomistic.


 For more resources and Sonja’s scripture meditation exercise for this episode visit  the Bible Study Evangelista website  

Sonja’s books can found here

Sonja Corbitt is the Bible Study Evangelista. She’s a Catholic Scripture teacher with a story teller’s gift – a Southern Belle with a warrior’s heart and a poet’s pen.

We’re all sweating and dirty with the effort to love and lift all He’s given to us – those people, duties, callings, and longings that break our hearts and make them sing, sometimes at the same time. But most times, we need to be loved and lifted ourselves.

So her Bible study media are created with you in mind, bites of spinach that taste like cake, to help you make space in your busy heart and schedule for God to love and lift you all the way up into His great lap, where all you’ve been given is loved and lifted too.

SP#4 “The Suffering of Fear” – The School of Prayer – with Fr. Scott Traynor

Catholic Spiritual Formation - Catholic Spiritual Direction

Fr. Scott Traynor talks about the suffering of fear.  Thoughts, feelings, and desires all come into play in our understanding of  this topic.  Wherever there is fear there dwells an experience of pain and wounding, which perfect love desires to heal.  The love of God is the remedy and our prayer opens the door to healing and/or union with the One that loves perfectly.  Our response in not trusting that love and areas of unforgiveness can be a block to that healing.  How do we, in our united  prayer with God, overcome this obstacle?

Parish-School-of-PrayerIn Father Scott Traynor’s book, Blessed John Paul II’s memorable call to make of the parish a school of prayer takes on flesh and becomes concretely attainable. Those you read these faith-filled pages will find renewed desire to create such parishes and a clear road-map toward this goal.
–Father Timothy Gallagher, OMV

Father Scott Traynor received his STB from the Pontifical Gregorian University and his JCL from Catholic University of America. He has been an instructor and spiritual director for many of the programs at the Institute for Priestly Formation.
Father Traynor is a retreat master and spiritual director who has travelled the country as a speaker at various conferences, diocesan gatherings and national conferences.. He is especially sought after to present on the topics of prayer, discernment and priestly identity and mission.
He serves the Rector of the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver Colorado.