Welcome to the Jesuit Missions Monthly Prayer Page. Here you will find topical prayers and different prayer styles to help broaden and deepen your prayer life in the tradition of Ignatian spirituality.
JM Prayer Focus: The Transfiguration
Suggested Prayer Type: Imaginative Contemplation
What is imaginative contemplation?
- Imaginative Contemplation is the act of imagining yourself as present, perhaps even as an active ‘character’, in the scene of a Gospel passage.
Why pray using Imaginative contemplation?
- When a Gospel passage is dominated by actions rather than words, contemplating the scene imaginatively is sometimes more effective prayer than the more common Lectio Divina .
- Imaginative contemplation is a way of unlocking some of the wonderful mysteries of the Gospel by imagining that you were present and watching the scene unfold for yourself.
- It also enables you to deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ by engaging in conversation and, basically, getting to know Jesus as a human companion, rather than the detached deity we may assume Him to be at Mass.
How to pray imaginative contemplation:
- Read over the scripture passage several times until you can remember the scene:
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I[a] will make three dwellings[b] here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved;[c] with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8 And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 11 He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; 12 but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist. (Matthew 17: New Revised Standard Version (NRSV))
- Imagine the setting. Don’t worry – you don’t have to be historically accurate – perhaps you wish to set this in a place you know vividly so as to help your imagination. For the above scene perhaps imagine the scene unfolding on a mountain you have visited on holiday. The key is to embrace this type of prayer by using your senses and memories to be imaginative, not by being historically accurate.
- Imagine the sights. ‘Play’ the scene out ‘without the sound on’. Look at the facial expressions, the bodily movements, the colours, contours and clothing of the characters. Dwell on the sights that strike you, that grab your gaze. Listen to what they say to you.
- Imagine the sounds. Repeat the scene with the sound ‘on’. You may wish to refer back to the text to see what exactly was said, but don’t over-rely on this. What other conversations were going on that weren’t documented? What accents are the likes of Peter and James speaking in? What questions would you like to ask those who were present? Ask them now and listen for the answers.
- Repeat the scene and return to the places and points that stirred the deepest emotions in you. Keep listening carefully and resting in the mystery as it takes place in front of your eyes. Perhaps bring your prayer to a close by speaking to Jesus, or God the Father and concluding with a prayer like the Our Father.
Final words of wisdom:
“Like the three chosen disciples, the Church contemplates the transfigured face of Christ in order to be confirmed in faith and to avoid being dismayed at his disfigured face on the Cross” (Saint John Paul II)
Jesuit Missions Reflection:
The transfiguring, transforming impact of a life illuminated by the companionship of Christ is something we are working to share through our Companions Programme. By connecting British schools with those in the developing world we help facilitate mutually beneficial and sustainable relationships. Like the disciples illuminated at the Transfiguration, we find those involved in this programme are enlightened by their involvement.