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Endurance through pain

Gavin T. Murphy keeps a blog on ilovebipolar.com and he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.

I have recently returned from a conference on Psychology and the Spiritual Exercises in Loyola, Spain and I am charged with new material for the upcoming Spirituality and Mental Health feature page. Today I draw from my experience of engaging in a contemplation on ‘The Resurrection of Christ, and His First Apparition’ as laid out in the Exercises. I believe it has a crucial insight into the theme of relationality or relationships central to Ignatius’s viewing of things. I hope this accompanies young people in the creation of a hope-filled future.

In this Ignatian contemplation, I imagined how Mary, the mother of God, experienced so much pain from the death of her son but more importantly how she stayed faithful in prayer. She received great joy when Christ appeared to her and they warmly kissed and embraced each other. Mary said, “The pain was almost too much to bear,” and Jesus replied, “It’s ok, It’s ok”. Jesus knew the pain of Mary, and he didn’t brush by it when she tells him about her experience. Instead, he let her describe the detail of her pain, e.g., her agony in seeing Jesus on the cross, her sense of helplessness, her own doubts about the Father’s plan for her son. Jesus listened intently: he genuinely mirrored her painful facial expression, he was patient in receiving her every word.

Then, Jesus enabled his mother to move on to another emotional experience. Slowly, at Mary’s prompting, she began to smile in consolation of seeing her Risen Son. A bit like when she understood what the angel told her all those years ago about becoming the mother of God. Jesus smiled with her in the room of this first apparition. At the same time, they were moved with compassion for others who were suffering from the death of Jesus and their not yet seeing or feeling his resurrected presence.

Then they sat down next to each other and prayed that others too would endure through their pain. Most importantly, they prayed that others may be One with the Risen Christ – giving hope, inspiration, joy, lightheartedness and laughter. When I spoke about the theme of relationality or relationships in a conversation with Mary, Jesus and the Father (this is a step of the contemplation) I received some comforting answers. Mary said: “Yes, I stayed faithful through the pain”. Jesus said, “I know the pain”. The Father said, “I am open to the pain.” I ended the contemplation with a feeling of contentment and gladness for entering a deeper level of experience in the midst of a surface level one.

What to take home from this contemplation:

  1. Mary stayed faithful in prayer during the bleakest time in history.
  2. She gave strength to other believers through her example.
  3. Seeing her resurrected son confirmed the fruit of her faithfulness.
  4. Jesus deeply listened to her most painful story.
  5. Mary’s heart lifted and she began to smile again.
  6. Together they pray that we may endure the pain of our lives.
  7. Together we pray to be attuned to the resurrection spirit.
  8. Together we enter a deeper level of experience.