"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

[7/9] Novena of Grace: "I beg for the grace of reconciliation with God and with my neighbors"

Peter Paul Rubens: Ignatius meets a Moor on the journey to Montserrat


isha B’Av aka Israel’s saddest day of the year, is a day of mourning in the Jewish calendar that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Jerusalem Temple. This year it falls on July 26-27 or the ninth day of the Jewish month of Av. Sr Eliana Kurylo CB, involved in Jewish-Christian dialogue for many years, says that the Rabbis teach that the cause of the destructions of the First Temple in 586 BCE and the Second Temple in 70 AD was spiritual laziness, apathy or boredom with God (exaudi.org). Midrash Eichah Rabbasi 1:35—"A man would approach his friend in Jerusalem and request: Would you please read a page of the Written Law for me? Would you please study with me a chapter of Oral Law? The response would be: I have no strength. The Master of the Universe then replied: I promise that the day will come when you will really be drained of all strength, as it says they fled without strength from the pursuer (Lm 1,6)."

Across 4100 years, a single fact remains then and now, that out of all the cities and towns around the world, the city of Jerusalem is where God chose to dwell forever. It has changed hands 86 times, from one occupation to another: Israelites, Juhadites, Babylonians, Persians (twice), Greeks, Jews, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims (thrice), Franks, Ottomans, British, Israelis and Palestinians. It was leveled at least 18 times and today constant threats of war continue at the borders of the now 75 years old independent State of Israel (14 May 1948-2023). Yet God's chosen homeland continues to rise out of the rubbles and ashes because "despite the pain and destruction, God has not abandoned his people until this day" adds Sr Kurylo and it is the most significant part of Tisha B’Av. As Jews gather to pray at the Western (Wailing) Wall, there is also an Imam at the Al-Aqsa mosque which is inside the same wall praying do or die prayers. Both sides have already been used to hearing all sorts of insults and threats hurled at each other. God has chosen to dwell in the midst of chaos, no less!

Today is the seventh day of our Novena of Grace. Let us contemplate the whole world being contained in Jerusalem as in a nutshell and each one of us represented inside it—race, civilization, nationality, faith, religion, spirituality, culture, language, tradition, gender, lifestyle, technology and whatever category a person may have. In the Contemplation of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, St Ignatius of Loyola asks each one to compose the place.
Here it will be to see with the eyes of the imagination the synagogues, villages, and castles through which Christ our Lord passed as he preached" (Spiritual Exercises 91) ...gaze upon Christ our Lord, the eternal King, and all the world assembled before him. He calls to them all, and to each person in particular he says: "My will is to conquer the whole world and all my enemies, and thus to enter into the glory of my Father. Therefore, whoever wishes to come with me must labor with me, so that through following me in the pain he or she may follow me also in the glory" (Spiritual Exercises 95).

Grace to beg for: "I beg for the grace of reconciliation with God and with my neighbors"

Suggested Scripture passages to ponder: Exodus 20:1-17—"The law was given through Moses"; Matthew 13:18-23—"The one who hears the word and understands it will bear much fruit"

TODAY, IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS'—EVER IN SCRIPTURE, IT IS THE HEART THAT PRAYS. In today's featured reading, what word or phrase from God speaks to me?—PONDER—LISTEN—THANK—SURRENDER. I contemplate God's word and then end with the OUR FATHER...

Repeat this prayer for nine successive days.

Suscipe (Prayer by St Ignatius)

ake, O Lord, and receive
all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding and my entire will. All I have and call my own. Thou hast given all to me, to Thee, O Lord, I return it. Everything belongs to Thee; do with it as Thou wilt. Give me only the love of Thee and with it Thy grace, that is enough for me. Amen.

With St Ignatius we pray:

oul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
And bid me come unto Thee,
That with all Thy saints,
I may praise Thee
Forever and ever.


St Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.