Intro to St. Ignatius, Imagination and Emotion

If prayer seems boring, hard or unrelated to your life, St.Ignatius’ difficulties with an injury and the way he learned to pray as a result of it may be of interest to you.  Ignatius was a wealthy young man engaged in a territorial skirmish in Pamplona, Spain at the end of the medieval ages, when young men strove for valor and glory.  In the midst of this little battle, a cannonball hit Ignatius in the leg, leaving him alive but wounded.  His months of recovery gave him tons of time lying on his back with nothing to do but think. For hours, he would imagine himself when he got well as a knight in a queen’s court.  After finding a book about the lives of the saints, he alternated that fantasy with imagining that he was living a life of a saintly beggar, like Dominic or Francis and bringing people to Christ.  After weeks and weeks of this, he noticed a pattern in his emotions. When he imagined himself as a solider, he enjoyed the dream and was energized but afterwards, his emotions were flat, dull or empty.  In contrast, after he imagined himself giving his life to Christ and living earnestly as a missionary, he continued to feel peace,joy and openness.  St. Ignatius realized that the Holy Spirit was giving him these lasting feelings of peace as a way to lead him in the right direction.  From then on, St. Ignatius continued to ask Our Lord in what way imagination and emotion could be used well to follow Jesus.  He found this mode to be particularly helpful when people were in a state of grace(that is, not burdened with serious sin). For centuries now, many have been enabled to make good life directional decisions through encountering Christ by engaging the imagination and listening to the Holy Spirit’s guidance of consolation.