Spiritual Tool: Ignatian Repetition

Repetition is an important way of disposing oneself to listen to the Lord by returning to a previous experience of prayer for the purpose of allowing the movements of God to deepen within my heart.

Over a typical day of the Exercises, Ignatius usually insists in 4-5 hours of contemplation, of which 3-4 are repetitions.

“It is not much knowledge that fills and satisfies the spirit, but to feel and taste things inwardly” ~ St Ignatius Ex.2

What repetition is NOT:

  • NOT a simple reduplication of a prior exercise as one repeats a study assignment for more thorough understanding
  • NOT a way to dig for something new or different.

What repetition IS:

  • Returning to and dwelling on those specific points (zoom into) where affective responses of spiritual experiences were stimulated: consolation, desolation, inspirations, etc (Exercises #62).
  • Returning to where my heart is drawn to receive more love.
  • A follow-up conversation with Jesus.
  • Giving Jesus permission to go back into my history.
  • Go to the part in Scripture where the experience occurred, rather than to the experience itself.
  • Repeatedly entering the mysteries of the Lord at successively more intimate levels.
  • Staying with it until I no longer draw fruit from it. If I am being moved by the Lord, why change?

“I will remain quietly meditating upon the point in which I have found what I desire without any eagerness to go on till I have been satisfied” ~ St. Ignatius, Exercises #76

Criteria to use for repetition:

  • Flows from questions asked in your review of prayer: 
    • What happened to me during my prayer? How did it go with me? What will I pray with the next time I pray?
  • What will I pray on next time depends on:
    • What satisfied me in my last prayer period? What went well? Where was I impressed?

PURPOSE of repetition:

  • to “find God in all things” ~ St Ignatius
  • to help one to listen more carefully to God’s communication
  • to allow the movements of God to unfold and touch me at deeper and deeper levels of my being… to experience God’s mystery more deeply
  • to show respect for how God communicates with us (He’s not done just because we ended our meditation).
  • to personalize prayer… to see, savour, and know the Word in a new and wholly personal way.
  • to NOTICE interior movements more distinctly… to zoom into a particular area of notable personal sensitivity (or lack thereof) to reinforce, deepen, or better appreciate.
  • to simplify and intensify an awareness of spiritual realities, especially personal presence to and service of the Lord.
  • to discover deeper levels of friendship with God.
  • to change desolation into consolation
  • to discover where the Lord is calling you, where you are being pulled, and what pulls you away from cooperating with God.

“It is therefore, through the instrument of repetition that we go back to our own experience of prayer to where we moved so that you may dispose yourself to allow the Creator and Lord to deal directly with you his creature” ~ St. Ignatius, Exercises #15

“The repetitions are efforts to engage mystery, to center on the depth of riches within revelation, and to discover how God specifically invites this particular man or woman to find the meaning of a gospel event for him or her.” ~Howard Gray, SJ

Other links for information on Ignatian repetition:

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