Compose Yourself

Spiritual Exercise 75:

St. Ignatius writes: “A step or two away from the place where I will make my contemplation or meditation, I will stand for the length of an Our Father. I will raise my mind and think how God our Lord is looking at me, and other such thoughts. Then I will make an act of reverence or humility.”


There is a story told of a mother and her little daughter in Trinidad. They are the poor of the earth, and the mother takes great care each evening to launder the one well-worn dress that her daughter wears to school day after day. Each morning, as the little girl leaves the front door to set off for class, her mother asks her to stop and turn toward her for a moment. “Just stand there. I love to look at you.”

Contemplation is a way of looking, a way of seeing. The more I see, the more I love. And the more I love, the more I see. Seeing by loving;loving by seeing. But the one caught up in contemplation knows that it is not only I who look and gaze and behold; it is the Other, whose name above all naming is Love, who gazes upon me. A beloved shield hears the words of a mother: “Just stand there. I love to look at you.” It is our to be gazed upon…even while gazing.

(The Heart of Hope) by Michael Downey

  1. Imagine how God looks upon you and delights in you

  2. Imagine God’s long, loving gaze upon you.

  3. Settle into your prayer space by relaxing your body and your breathing.

  4. Find a posture conducive to prayer: sit, kneel, stand.

  5. Ask God to be with you in this time of Prayer. Consider a mantra: “Come Holy Spirit”, “God, be with me”, “Jesus, I trust in you”.

  6. Be mindful that you are not thinking about God, but encountering God in a very real way.