Fr James Martin's meditation on Jesus

Personal account

High profile American Jesuit James Martin’s book, Jesus: A Pilgrimage, is both an introduction to and an account of the pursuit of the grace of knowing Jesus Christ more intimately, writes Kevin Spinale for America magazine.

Jesus: A Pilgrimage by James Martin SJ (Harper Collins)

Imagination is a powerful and creative human faculty. Ancient thinkers likened the imagination to a wax tablet. It is malleable. One’s experience can press upon the imagination and engender imprints, which one can shape further in reflection.

Within our own tradition, the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius represent a guide for Catholic Christians to meet God, particularly in the events of the life of Christ, in and through their imagination.

This is an essential insight of the first Jesuits - contemplatives in action: God meets us in our imagination; God can reveal Godself vividly in the human imagination by the workings of the Holy Spirit. God can shape our imaginative impressions just as we can form and shape our own. This is graced contemplation. Such prayer is based upon the a clear principle that underpins the Spiritual Exercises:

The heart and soul of the Exercises is an encounter with Christ. The person praying the Exercises engages in the following two preparations before contemplating the life of Christ.

Fr Martin’s book employs scripture, imagination, experience, history and place to enliven, enrich and deepen one’s encounter with Christ in prayer. It is his introduction to the Jesus of history, the Jesus of faith, and the Jesus Fr Martin has encountered in his own imaginative prayer.

In fact, Jesus: A Pilgrimage is a longitudinal study of the comprehensive and compassionate love that Martin has experienced throughout his life. The book is also a travelogue of two Jesuit pilgrims visiting the places where scripture tells us Jesus lived, healed, preached, was executed, and rose from the dead.

Fr Martin begins his account of Jesus’ life at Nazareth where, the Gospel of Luke tells us, Mary encountered an angel and cooperated with the divine project of the incarnation.

In the lower level of the Basilica at Nazareth, Martin marvels at the inscription on an altar in the Grotto of the Annunciation: Verbum caro hic factum est, that is, “The Word was made flesh here” (33). The hic—the here—of the incarnation fuels Martin’s whole book.

Read full article: Jesus: A Pilgrimage (America)

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