How to Give the Program for Life
Ex 21 – Program for Life
Immediately on waking up, I rouse myself to joy by imagining Jesus delighted with my program for life. I will get dressed with thoughts like these.
2. Opening Prayer
I ask for the grace to direct my whole self toward the Trinity.
I desire to create a program for life.
I read the prayer texts. Then, I draw up an outline of a program for life:
1. What time can I take for enhancing family life? For children? For parents?
2. What time can I take for enhancing work life? For finding God at work in it?
3. What time can I take for enhancing personal life? Recreation? Exercise? Holiday?
4. What time can I take for prayer life? How often? For personal prayer? Communal prayer?
5. What time can I take for engagement in my church? When?
6. What time can I take for engagement in my community? What service? When?
7. What time can I take for engagement in my faith life? For a retreat? For a little pilgrimage?
8. Is there a particular spiritual desire, awaiting action, that I have always felt?
9. Is there a particular work of Jesus that I desire to imitate?
10. Is there a particular opportunity I can use in the service of God?
After writing my program for life, I examine it as a whole.
I consider my whole self and life in regard to it. Do they enliven each other?
I end by explaining my program for life to Jesus, asking his help.
Suggested Prayer time: As needed.
How to Give The Program for Life
Ignatius once said that with life’s journey ahead of us, it is important to set off in the right direction and, like a pilgrim’s ship, to set ourselves at the arrival port of our pilgrimage, that is in the supreme love of God. The exercise of creating a Program for Life is about setting off in the right direction. It is about balance and choices and the desires in one’s life.
You give the Program for Life by simply guiding the receiver through the five steps of the exercise. You just read the five sentences leaving time for the receiver to answer them. It is a long exercise as there are important questions to consider and this make take some days. The best time to give the Program for Life is at the end of a FSE retreat or when someone might be ready for this exercise.
Give your receiver the text of the Program for Life and go through it with them point by point so that they can take it home and make it by themselves over several prayer periods or repetitions.
Remind your receiver that their program will need to be realistic and sustainable. Ask your receiver to integrate small actions into daily life. He or she will receive more encouragement and consolation in small steps rather than a huge, unworkable project.
You can also tell your receiver to expect some excitement, feelings of quiet joy or a sense of rightness as they make this exercise. Point out that these feelings will be a good guide to the right choices. And to be confident that Jesus will supply the strength and fruit of the Program for Life.
Prayer texts and reflections that speak to the Program for Life
Beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned.. and the God of peace will be with you. (Phil 4:8–9)
Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. (1 Pt 4:7, 10–11)
In the reform of one’s life, one should seek nothing other than the greater praise and glory of God our Lord in and through everything. So it must be borne in mind that a person will make progress in things of the spirit to the degree to which they divest themselves of self-love, self-will, and self-interest – Ignatius [SE 21]
I must remind you to frequent the sacraments, to read spiritual books, and to pray with as much recollection as you possibly can. Every day set aside some time so that the soul will not be without its food and, thus, you will not be induced to complain like the one who said My heart has withered because I have forgotten to eat my bread – Ignatius.