A CLC group, called "Eccomi", has translated into Italian
and done the Lightworks for the last two years. They wished to meet its
author, Father Tetlow, who lives and works at the Jesuit General Curia in
Rome. On May 4 Father Tetlow kindly came with us and gave us a talk, in
Italian, about "Why and how to do the Lightworks". This is an English
translation of that talk.
• • •
When Ignatius first started to "help the souls", he did
not have a specific spirituality. He was a layman, without much
instruction. Thus he started sharing with others his own experiences. But
these were mystical. For instance he had an "illumination" by the El
Cardoner river in which he understood how everything is given by the
Father to us through Jesus. Ignatius tried to explain it to the ordinary
people he met in Manresa. He told them about the Trinity. People could not
understand a thing. Soon Ignatius realized that. He then tried to teach
people very simple things: the Creed, the Our Father, the difference
between mortal and venial sin. He soon had problems with the Inquisition:
"How could he, not having studied theology, explain the difference between
mortal and venial sin?" Ignatius answered: "I just know!"
Gradually Ignatius found a way to introduce people to
prayer. At first he thought, as many of us do, that people should meditate
and contemplate like holy monks do. This is how they pray, this is what
prayer should be. However people in the market place cannot pray like
that. So Ignatius knew that he had to think it all over. What does
contemplation mean? People will pray in simple ways. For instance, in the
morning, when I start a busy day, I myself can only pray in a simple way.
I cannot pray like the monks do. I look for the way that suits me: a get
into my knees and say, slowly, the Creed, "I believe in one God, the
Many people have a poor understanding of their faith.
It is not enough to teach them how to pray. They need some instruction,
not an abstract one, but a concrete one they can understand.
Some years ago (September 1994) I had to undergo an operation in
St.Louis which immobilized me for two weeks. That was the occasion to work
on a plan I had: the Lightworks. These are exercises for people in the
market place; people who cannot pray like the monks do.
There are three Ignatian ways to pray: the
Contemplation, the Meditation and the Consideration. The
Contemplation is done for one hour, with the preludes. In the
Meditation we choose a passage from Scripture, read it and get into it
for period of one hour. The Consideration is more simple. When my
mother was working in the kitchen, cleaning the beans, with her eye-sight
on a middle distance, thinking about what I had done, what my father had
said… that is "consideration".
For instance, on the Genealogy of Jesus. It is not
difficult at all. I can consider how some of his ancestors were sinners.
The Son of God was born from these persons. Among my ancestors there are
sinners too. What does the family mean to me? Furthermore, there are three
groups of seven generations, but in the last one there are only six. The
genealogy has stopped at Jesus. Jesus is the last one in a dynasty. Me
too: I am the end of my family. This is interesting. This is something I
share with Jesus. This is a Consideration. The reflections I offer in the
Lightworks are meant to be just that: Considerations.
As I said before, Ignatius at Monserrat did not know
any school of Spirituality. Later on he learned from the Benedictines,
Franciscans and Carmelites (his confessors); but at the beginning he did
not have any specific spirituality. However he made a journey. Faith
itself provided Ignatius with sufficient nourishment and light for his
The book of the Exercises does not contain the whole of
Christian faith. The purpose of the Exercises is very specific: "Helping
me to take a decision without being influenced by hatred or any other
passion". Many use the Exercises like the Aspirin: as a remedy for all
While in the Lightworks we are introduced into
considerations about our faith. Some years ago I was offering the
Lightworks to an excellent man. Right at the beginning he told me: "I have
a problem with the Real Presence (of Jesus in the Eucharist)". I told him:
"Alright! leave that aside for the moment and let us talk about Jesus and
about His life". After some months considering and sharing on the truths
of our faith, on grace, on the choices we do, on the need of God’s help
and the difficulty to see what is the next good action I am called to do…,
I asked him: "What about the Real Presence?". He answered: "I do not know,
but it doesn’t matter". Oftentimes, people think they have this or the
other problem or question, but not always these are their real problems.
A lady who begun the Lightworks had some really serious
choices to make in her life. However she told me: "I am OK! I feel
wonderful!" It wasn’t easy to help her. Where should I start from? I
suggested her to pray with John 8,1-10, the adulterous woman. I invited
her to "consider" how Jesus wanted to save the woman. The other actors in
the scene had other desires: they wanted to accuse and condemn her. But
Jesus wanted to save her. The consideration was that Jesus had understood
very well the situation and all He wanted was to save the woman. Little by
little, with the considerations I was suggesting, the woman started to see
where her real problems were. After some months she did some important
The Lightworks are for everybody. They gradually
introduce them into prayer. We should speak more about our faith with
others. In CLC there are many opportunities to share our faith, especially
when everybody does the Lightworks.
The Lightworks in ordinary life invite us to pray and
consider every day on what is happening to us, praying about it. We may
think that prayer is complicated. It is not. A layperson can pray with
considerations. When I only have 10 minutes, I read the reflections, or
the Scripture passage. I may understand something. I leave the rest for
the following day. Jesus tells us that we have to pray always. Jesus did
not know the Spiritual Exercises. What kind of prayer had He in mind? He
knew the Psalms, which every good Jew learned by heart. The first
Christians used to sing the Psalms. Sometimes I pray by singing: "Turn to
me, O man, and be saved…" The best way to pray is the spontaneous one:
when my mind is preoccupied I pray with the Creed, the Our Father, with
the prayer of the Church: the Breviary, with the readings of the Mass.
When I have to take a decisions I pray about it.
Each one will find his/her own way. This way is
flexible, can change. Rigid ways to pray become a problem: always a Zen
prayer, or centering prayer. They think this is the only way to pray. The
book of the Exercises proposes different ways of prayer. But even these
are not the only ones. There a danger of thinking that these are the only
ways to pray. For Ignatius, spiritual directors can do great harm when
they try to impose on others their own way to pray.
We are called by God to do what we can, not what we
Years ago I thought about running the Marathon. I
should practice by running two hours a day and eating a lot. I decided to
run just 4 miles a day. The same with prayer: we do what we can.
Sometimes we need to pray more. A religious man heard
they wanted to name him superior, and he felt great reluctance. For some
months he had to pray a lot in order to overcome this resistance. There
are times in our life when we need to pray more.
Question: What is your experience about lay people
doing the Lightworks? What do they find out? What happens?
In the book "Choosing Christ in the world" at the end of
each week there is a summary of the graces many receive. Each person,
however, is different. Some people just want to pray. After a period of
time, doing the Exercises they realize that they need to do some choices.
Prayer is a means not the purpose. If this method of prayer helps, it is
the right one. If not, I should change the method. The same thing with the
Lightworks done in a group. They make the sharing easier. Faith should be
shared. Illuminism is a typical illness of our time: "I think my faith is
only mine". But my faith is not "mine", is "our" faith. I can contemplate
the mysteries of Christ by myself. However a better way to do it is in a
group. The faith experience of the others enriches mine. It is possible to
do the Lightworks alone. But is it better to do them with others. Doing
them in a group is, therefore, better.
Obviously everybody should know which topic we use this
week. We all agree on the topic for the personal prayer and for the
sharing. We all pray on the same Scripture passages. If last week somebody
could not pray on theme the group agreed upon, it is OK; he/she leaves it
for next year. But this week we all pray on the same passage so that we
can share the outcome of the prayer with the group. Nobody comprehends the
whole truth. My friends comprehend another side of the truth too. For
instance about the Genealogy: one sees something, another sees another.
The Lightworks are like the Breviary: the whole Church
prays with the same Scriptures passages. It is the prayer of the Church.
The Lightworks are the prayer of the group. The group can also use the
themes from Choosing Christ in the World as Lightworks. In the same way:
this week everybody prays on the same theme. Though I might wish to remain
another week on one theme, I don’t, because I go along with the group.
This is what Ignatius meant with the annotation 18. In one group I
directed in St. Louis we did this journey for ten months. Every three
weeks we met (more often was impossible). It was a rich experience. Some
members of the group went through some problems with their adolescent
children, and sharing with the group they could say things they haven’t
admitted even to themselves. Because the group was welcoming.
(Transcribed and translated by J.Elizalde sj)
Tôi Thao Luyện Nhẹ Nhàng
"Who do you say I
am?" - Trần Quân, SJ
Phút hồi tâm
- Huyền Đan
A Most Excellent Ministry for Today - Company Magazine
khi đến với Chúa
con tháo bỏ đôi giày:
những tham vọng của con,
con cởi bỏ đồng hồ:
thời khóa biểu của con,
con đóng lại bút viết:
các quan điểm của con,
con bỏ xuống ch́a khóa:
sự an toàn của con,
để con được ở một ḿnh với Ngài,
lạy Thiên Chúa duy nhất và chân thật.
Sau khi được ở với Ngài,
con sẽ xỏ giầy vào,
để đi theo đường của Chúa
con sẽ đeo đổng hồ,
để sống trong thời gian của Chúa
con sẽ đeo kính vào,
để nh́n thế giới của Chúa
con sẽ mở bút ra,
để viết những tư tưởng của Chúa
con sẽ cầm ch́a khóa lên,
để mở những cánh cửa của Chúa.