Prayers and Reflections

Prayers from the Ignatian Tradition


The Examen

See our page on the Examen.



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.

- St. Ignatius of Loyola


The First Principle and Foundation

This meditation from the Spiritual Exercises expresses a key insight of Ignatian spirituality: that all creation is a gift and that our response to this gift should be oriented toward that which gives life. A literal translation is available here. Below is a contemporary translation and interpretation from David Fleming, S.J.

The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God's life to flow into us without limit.

All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.

As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God's life in me.

Prayers and Reflections by Theme



    Fall in Love 

    Nothing is more practical than finding God,
    than falling in Love
    in a quite absolute, final way.

    What you are in love with,
    what seizes your imagination,
    will affect everything.

    It will decide
    what will get you out of bed in the morning,
    what you do with your evenings,
    how you spend your weekends,
    what you read, whom you know,
    what breaks your heart,
    and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

    Fall in Love, stay in love,
    and it will decide everything.

    - Joseph Whelan, SJ, former provincial of the Maryland Province
      (sometimes attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ)




    Merton's Prayer 

    My Lord God,
    I have no idea where I am going.
    I do not see the road ahead of me.
    I cannot know for certain where it will end.
    nor do I really know myself,
    and the fact that I think I am following your will
    does not mean that I am actually doing so.
    But I believe that the desire to please you
    does in fact please you.
    And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
    I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
    And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
    though I may know nothing about it.
    Therefore will I trust you always though
    I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
    I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
    and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. 

    - Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"



    Patient Trust

    Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
    We are quite naturally impatient in everything
    to reach the end without delay.
    We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
    We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

    And yet it is the law of all progress
    that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—
    and that it may take a very long time.

    And so I think it is with you;
    your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
    let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
    Don’t try to force them on,
    as though you could be today what time
    (that is to say, grace and circumstances
    acting on your own good will)
    will make of you tomorrow.

    Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.
    Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you,
    and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
    in suspense and incomplete.

    - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
    (Excerpted from Hearts on Fire)



    Prayer of Pedro Arrupe

    Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes,
    to discern and test the spirits
    that help me read the signs of the times,
    to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others.
    Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave Ignatius.

    - Pedro Arrupe, SJ 
    (Excerpted from Hearts on Fire)


    Prayer for Discernment in a Meeting 

    Good and loving God, our source of love and light -
    Thank you for bringing us together today
    in a spirit of generosity.
    May we honor one another
    by keeping an open mind.
    May we voice our truth
    and listen with an open heart.
    May we discern your will
    to unite in fruitful outcome. 
    We ask for your wisdom and grace,
    to use our talents for the betterment of others. 
    With gratitude, we offer this prayer in your name.

    - Debra Mooney, PhD (source)




    Reflection from Ita Ford 

    I hope you can come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you, 
    something that energizes you, enthuses you, 
    enables you to keep moving ahead.

    I can't tell you what it might be. 
    That is for you to find, to choose, to love. 
    I can just encourage you to start looking and support you in the search.

    - Ita Ford, IHM, excerpted from a letter to her niece 
    (More information about Sr. Ford and her martyrdom here.)





    As Kingfishers Catch Fire

    As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
    As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
    Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
    Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
    Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
    Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
    Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
    Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

    I say móre: the just man justices;
    Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
    Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
    Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
    Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
    To the Father through the features of men's faces.

    - Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ



    God's Grandeur

    The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
        It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
        It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
    Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
    Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
        And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
        And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
    Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
    And for all this, nature is never spent;
        There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
    And though the last lights off the black West went
        Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
        World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

    Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ



    Hymn to Matter

    Blessed be you, harsh matter,
    barren soil, stubborn rock;
    you who yield only to violence:
    you who force us to work if we would eat.

    Blessed be you, perilous matter,
    violent sea, untameable passion:
    you, who unless we fetter you, will devour us.

    Blessed be you, mighty matter,
    irresistible march of evolution, reality ever new-born;
    you who by constantly shattering our mental category,
    force us to go ever further in our pursuit of truth.

    Blessed be you, universal matter,
    immeasurable time, boundless other, abyss of starts and atoms and generations;
    you, who by overflowing and dissolving our narrow standard or measurements, 
    reveal to us the dimensions of God.

    I acclaim you as the melodious fountain of water
    from whom springs the souls of all people,
    and as the limpid crystal,
    whereof is fashioned the new Jerusalem.

    I acclaim you as the divine milieu,
    charged with creative power,
    as the ocean stirred by the spirit,
    as the clay molded and infused with life by the incarnate Word.

    Your realm comprises those supreme heights
    where saints think to avoid you--
    but where your flesh is so transparent and so agile
    as to be no longer distinguishable from spirit.

    Raise me up, then, matter,
    to those heights through struggle and separation and death;
    raise me up until at long last it becomes possible for me,
    in perfect chastity, to embrace the universe.

    - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ



    Pied Beauty

    Glory be to God for dappled things – 
       For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; 
          For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; 
    Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings; 
       Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough; 
          And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim. 
    All things counter, original, spare, strange; 
       Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) 
          With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; 
    He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: 
                                    Praise him.

    Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ





    Patient Trust

    Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
    We are quite naturally impatient in everything
    to reach the end without delay.
    We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
    We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

    And yet it is the law of all progress 
    that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—
    and that it may take a very long time.

    And so I think it is with you;
    your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
    let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
    Don’t try to force them on,
    as though you could be today what time
    (that is to say, grace and circumstances
    acting on your own good will)
    will make of you tomorrow.

    Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.
    Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you,
    and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
    in suspense and incomplete.

    - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ 
    (Excerpted from Hearts on Fire)



    Prophets of a Future Not Our Own (The Romero Prayer)

    It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
    The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
    We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
    of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
    Nothing we do is complete,
    which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

    No statement says all that could be said.
    No prayer fully expresses our faith.
    No confession brings perfection.
    No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
    No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
    No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

    This is what we are about.

    We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
    We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
    We lay foundations that will need further development.
    We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

    We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
    This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
    It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
    an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

    We may never see the end results,
    but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
    We are workers, not master builders;
    ministers, not messiahs.
    We are prophets of a future not our own.

    - Ken Untener
    (This prayer is often attributed to Oscar Romero and is sometimes called the "Romero Prayer." Source here.)



  • In the Spirit

    Let us take a moment to collect ourselves, center ourselves, ground ourselves. As partners in mission, and in the spirit of the Jesuit identity we share, let us pray:

    In the spirit of "seeking God in all things," may we

    • pause for a moment of contemplation by taking a long, loving look at the real - to recognize and honor the goodness in us and around us
    • recognize the presence and power of God in our midst
    • savor the consolation in our lives, including in being together this weekend
    • learn from the desolation in the world as we call to mind the suffering and sin of so many, including ourselves
    • be attentive and responsive to who God is calling and empowering us to be and to do
    • creatively, compassionately, and courageously imagine that more is possible

    In the spirit of Cura Personalis, may we

    • be tender with ourselves and with each other, bringing respect to every encounter
    • affirm the wisdom we have gleaned through our experiences, and generously share and receive that wisdom this weekend
    • give ourselves 'margins for error' and not be afraid to speak because we 'might say something wrong'
    • listen deeply, especially to views and voices that differ from my own, in seeking empathy and understanding as well as appreciation for diversity and inclusion

    In the spirit of "Women and Men for and with Others," may we

    • see ourselves as bridge builders, ambassadors of reconciliation, and peace-makers, especially in the face of so many hurtful divisions and unequal inequalities
    • overcome the globalization of indifference by drawing near to others, doing our part to restore dignity, unmask racism, sexism, homophobia and every form of discrimination, violence, and injustice, and build partnerships marked by mutual honesty and trust
    • work toward ever more inclusive solidarity and kinship

    In the spirit of Magis, may we

    • be enkindled by the fire - as Pope Francis defines Magis - "the fervor in action, awakening those who have become dormant" to shed ourselves of complacency and comfort, in order to recommit ourselves to the service of faith and the promotion of justice
    • grow in affection for God, seek union with God, and deepen our devotion to what God desires for each one of us and for all creation
    • develop prophetic imagination, practice prophetic discourse, and adopt the kind of actions - guided by goals and strategies that will foster agreement and accountability - that will inspire us to embrace prophetic leadership on our campuses and in our communities and homes
    • in the face of so many reasons to be tired, distracted, overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, or tempted to despair, may we choose to be witnesses of faith, hope, and love

    May we do all of this as sisters and brothers united by love and justice A.M.D.G., for the greater glory of God.

    - Dr. Marcus Mescher (source)



    Gifts of Our Ignatian Heritage

    Loving God,
    We come to you filled with gratitude for making us partners in your ongoing work of creation.
    You call us to be part of this community and bless us with a unique legacy
    That began with Ignatius Loyola and has been passed
    From generation to generation.

    The gift of our mission, founded on the practice of reflection and discernment,
    Enables us to make decisions which call us to stand in solidarity and kinship
    With all those who share our earthly journey
    And moves us to perform active service rooted in justice and love.

    These gifts of our Ignatian heritage invite us to be part of a tradition
    That builds on the wisdom of the past
    With a vision open to the opportunities of the future.

    These gifts also challenge us to move beyond our norm,
    To broaden our imagination,
    To deepen our trust,
    And to establish your kingdom here on earth.

    Fill us with enthusiasm and wonder as we receive these gifts
    With open minds, generous hearts, and a willing spirit.
    Following the example of St. Ignatius, may we, too,
    "labor and ask for no reward except that of knowing we are doing your will."
    May we take full possession of this heritage and joyfully pass it on
    To those generous men and women
    Who walk behind us into the future.

    - Br. Darrell Burns, SJ (source)



    Ignatian Educator's Prayer

    Loving God, our world is indeed charged with your grandeur for you labor with and for us in all things to bring about the fullness of your Kingdom where justice, love and peace will reign in the hearts of all your people.

    Teach us, Lord, to be generous; teach us to serve you as you deserve,

    To lead our students to find joy in learning and to thirst for greater and deeper knowledge of how they are called to labor with you in the wonder and mystery of your ongoing work of creation,

    To witness for our students the personal love and care that you have for each of us so that they might attain the knowledge and freedom to achieve their full potential as young men and women created in your image and likeness,

    To teach as Jesus did so that by following his example our students will grow up to be men and women in service with and for others as well as leading discerners of your Spirit in the communities in which they live, work and worship,

    To form our students into persons of intellectual competence, moral integrity and religious conviction whose actions are informed by conscience, infused with compassion and inspired by a commitment to a faith that seeks justice for all your people, particularly among the poor, the suffering and the neglected.

    Bless us, Lord, and our mission as Ignatian educators. Guide us with your Spirit that we may continually grow as a community of companions in the ministry of teaching, working with and learning from one another to discern how best to accompany our students on their journeys to becoming men and women of the magis, asking always what more they can do for your greater honor and glory.


    - New England Province of the Society of Jesus (source)





    Give Us Hearts 

    God of love and compassion: may we always recognize your spirit:

    • in the refugee family, seeking safety from violence;
    • in the migrant worker, bringing food to our tables;
    • in the asylum-seekers, seeking justice for their families;
    • in the unaccompanied child, traveling in a dangerous world.

    Give us hearts that break open whenever our brothers and sisters turn to us. 
    Give us hearts that no longer turn deaf to their voices in times of need;

    Give us eyes to recognize a moment for grace instead of a threat.
    Give us voices that fail to remain silent but which decide instead to advocate prophetically.
    Give us hands that reach out in welcome, but also in work, for a world of justice until all homelands are safe and secure. 
    Bless us, O Lord...

    Dan Hartnett, SJ (source)



    Prayer for an End to Violence, War, and Death - James Hug, SJ



    The Christian Vision

    In the kingdom of God I am never less than an individual, but I am never only an individual. I am always a member of a group, called by God to a response of love, which must include the whole group or it is literally unacceptable to God.

    A community is indeed God's family, and the Lord who calls us to a response of love takes as done to God self whatever we do to one another. "Whatever you do to the least of my children you do to me." There can be no relationship of love with God unless we relate to one another in love. Sometimes this seems the highest cost of being a Christian. It is much easier to love the God I don't see than the [community member] I do see.

    - John Powell, SJ (The Christian Vision)



    We Make Up for the Neglect of the Crowd

    In Christ’s human life there were always a few who made up for the neglect of the crowd.

    The shepherds did it; their hurrying to the crib atoned for the people who would flee from Christ. The wise men did it; their journey across the world made up for those who refused to stir one hand’s breadth from the routine of their lives to go to Christ ... The women at the foot of the cross did it too, making up for the crowd who stood by and sneered.

    We can do it too, exactly as they did. We are not born too late. We do it by seeing Christ and serving Christ in friends and strangers, in everyone we come in contact with. While almost no one is unable to give some hospitality or help to others, those for whom it is really impossible are not debarred from giving room to Christ, because, to take the simplest of examples, in those they live with or work with is Christ disguised.

    All our life is bound up with other people; for almost all of us happiness and unhappiness are conditioned by our relationship with other people. What a simplification of life it would be if we forced ourselves to see that everywhere we go is Christ, wearing out socks we have to darn, eating the food we have to cook, laughing with us, silent with us, sleeping with us.

    - Dorothy Day
    (Excerpted from The Catholic Worker, 1945; source



    Prayer Against the Sin of Racism

    Lord, racism is a social sin that has taken root in the garden of our hearts. We need you to convert us Lord, and purify our hearts, so that we can become agents of care, who walk by faith in justice, hope, love, healing and reconciliation for your greater glory.  

    It’s time to embrace our Black brothers and sisters, instead of standing by while they are continually killed by a tree we need to uproot.

    Racism is sinful and harmful to your creation. Guard our hearts against it, and move us forward to enact change. 


    Patrick Saint-Jean, SJ (source)





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