Session 6: Study Guide

Jesus will be slain, and his death will lead to the scandalizing and the scattering of his disciples. They will all flee. But he will not abandon them. As the risen one he will gather his scattered disciples and lead them, as a shepherd leads his sheep, into Galilee.
–St. Ignatius of Loyola

There is a simple, straightforward way in which congregations of Jesus’ people can, without exception, fulfill his call to be an ecclesia, his “called out” ones: a touch point between heaven and earth, where the healing of the Cross and the Resurrection can save the lost and grow the saved into the fullness of human beings in Christ. No special facilities, programs, talents, or techniques are required.
–Dallas Willard
Trevor Hudson Part 14 of 14

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Table of contents

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Welcome

Welcome to session 6 of Another Kind of Life DVD Experience. Each of the six sessions in this study is designed for completion in 60 to 90 minutes, with additional activities that can be done at home.

This session accompanies chapter 6 of Another Kind of Life (pages xx-xx). Watch the video, discuss the questions, and complete the key activity as a group as time allows.

Note to Leader: You and your group will need to decide whether you would like to catch up with each other around the homework and Scripture reading experiences before you watch the video together for this week’s lesson.

Video Notes

As you watch the video, use the space below to take notes. We’ve included some key points to get you started.

  • At the heart of our faith is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • The resurrection reminds us that the life we share with Jesus cannot be extinguished. It is an indestructible, eternal life.
  • Three common threads run through all of the resurrection narratives. In the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius invites us to enter into the joy of Christ and reminds us that the primary ministry of the resurrected Jesus is that of consolation.
    • Thread #1: Each person to whom the risen Jesus comes is experiencing struggle.
      • Dallas Willard has often said, “God’s [website] address is endofyourrope.com.
      • Every person you know “sits next to his or her own pool of tears.” And this is precisely where Christ wants to meet us.
    • Thread #2: Every time the disciples take time to recognize the risen Christ, they recognize him gradually.
      • We need to take time to reflect on where Christ has been in our lives already.
      • Ignatius encourages us to pay attention to moments where we may have had an experience of God. Moments when:
        • Our heart burned with new love for God.
        • We were moved to tears over what we have done.
        • We were drawn into greater faith, hope, and love.
        • We experienced a real sense of settled peace in our lives.
    • Thread #3: Whenever Christ appears to his disciples after the resurrection, he always gives them work to do.
      • We are invited to become agents of consolation.
      • We are called to be Easter people who are called to practice resurrection in a Good Friday world.
      • Our One Question: “Lord, where is there one place in my community where I can practice the resurrection—the cry in my community that captures my heart?
    • The threads of our journey together:
      • At the heart of the Christian faith, there is the availability of another kind of life.
      • Repentance supported by trust—changing direction—is the doorway and the pathway of this life.
      • God meets us and leads us through our deepest desires to the life He wants to give us.
      • The most glorious opportunity in life is the opportunity to come to know Christ.
      • We are invited into a sacred mystery, the mystery of learning to die.
      • We are called by the risen Lord to receive the consolation he wants to give us.
    • We are invited to become a seeker, all of our lives.
      • Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
      • Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well.”
  • Question for Trevor’s Small Group:
    • How can I begin to practice resurrection where I live and work?

Discussion Questions

Silent Reflection

For each of the six sessions, we encourage you to listen to both Trevor’s talk and the interviews of the participants in Trevor’s small group. We want you to feel that you are in the room with Trevor, an extended part of the group you are watching. At the end of the DVD session, invite your group into a time of silence (at least a minute or two) to engage with the following reflection:

  1. Reflections from the Silence: How can you begin to practice resurrection where you live and work?
  2. Have you had an experience of being comforted by Christ at a time of great personal pain? What did you learn?
  3. How does the resurrection remind us that the life we share with Jesus cannot be extinguished?
  4. Please give an example of how you have encountered the risen Lord.
  5. To which of the “three common threads” that run through the resurrection narratives are you most drawn and how so?
  6. Trevor suggests that we do not learn from experience alone, but instead we learn from experience and reflection on that experience. Please share an example of this type of learning from your own life.

Key Activity

Spiritual Exercise: Ignatian Examination of Conscience

Trevor reminds us that we are called to be “Easter People” by practicing the resurrection of Jesus each day. His teasing out of the three common threads, which run through the resurrection narratives provide guidance for how to live the resurrection. Easter People: are sensitive to the struggles of others; recognize the presence of Christ in their lives and the lives of others; and accept the invitation to become agents of consolation in the world.

St. Ignatius created a prayer that can be used to help practice the resurrection. This prayer enables us to be more sensitive to the movements of Christ in our lives and to whether our movements are taking us toward or away from His living presence.

James Martin, SJ, in his wonderful book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life, presents a modification of Ignatius of Loyola’s classic exercise for a review of each day called, Examen (found in The Spiritual Exercises). What follows is a slight modification of Martin’s modification.

 

Group Activity—The Examen in Five Steps1

This prayer can be practiced at any set time of the day, but many enjoy using it just before going to bed, as a way of reviewing the day. It is good to both remind yourself that you are in the presence of God and that the purpose of this examination is to become progressively more aware of that presence and available friendship as you go through each day. Walk through these five steps as a group. Read each step and allow a few moments for reflection before going on to the next step. Focus on the past 24 hours.

  1. Gratitude: Recall events from your day that make you smile with gratitude. Enjoy the memory and then breathe a “Thanks.”
  2. Review: Recall events from the day where you felt most aware of God’s presence and the desire to be moving toward and with Him.
    • Remember Ignatius would encourage you to pay attention to moments where you may have had an experience of God. Moments when:
      • Your heart burned with new love for God.
      • You were moved to tears over what you have done.
      • You were drawn into greater faith and love.
      • You experienced a real sense of settled peace in your life.
  1. Sorrow: Recall times during the day when you felt distracted by barriers to awareness and intimacy; times when you felt you were away from God and running your life on your own.
  2. Forgiveness: Like Peter at Jesus’ feet, humbly ask God to forgive your times of distraction from His presence, especially if during those times you may have caused hurt to anyone, including yourself.
  3. Ask God for the grace you need to live more moments tomorrow with the ability to feel the reality of God’s presence and love more clearly.

 

Closing Prayer

Lord, help us to use this prayer of Examen each day as a way of reviewing our lives for the purpose of becoming “Easter People,” agents of consolation in this world.

Homework: Recognize and Respond

In our final homework exercise, we hope to create a cumulative experience. We are called to become “Easter people,” to practice the resurrection, to participate in another kind of life. St. Ignatius might refer to this as a life where we: live with God forever, are free from disordered attachments, guided by the deepest desires of our hearts, and accept all as a gift from God.

Dallas Willard might refer a person interested in living another kind of life to the final chapter of his book, Renovation of the Heart. In that chapter he describes what it means to become God intoxicated and to live as “Children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8). Clearly this is another kind of life. But as Willard observes, “Ordinary individuals who make up the human race today can become, through the grace of Christ, a love-filled, effective, and powerful community.”2

With this final exercise we invite you step into a daily practice of seeking another kind of live.

 

Homework: Recognize and Respond:

  1. Pamplona Moments: Realize what you want most.For, Ignatius, Pamplona was a place both of great pain and new vision. It was the place where he came to believe a radically different kind of life was available.Have a conversation with the Trinity about your desire for living a life of intimate friendship with God and others.
  2. Montserrat Moments: Confession with a PsalmFor, Ignatius, Montserrat was a place of confession. Read Psalm 51 as a confession to God. And ask for a new vision for your life.
  3. Trust Your Heart: Finding and Following Your Deepest DesiresAt some point this week, place an empty chair near you so that if a person were in that chair they would be facing you, close enough to reach out and touch your knee.Now imagine God is sitting in the chair. Read aloud the descriptions found below concerning the various aspects of a person who is becoming a “Child of Light.” (We first visited these descriptions in Chapter 3.) Then confess to God where you are concerning this being a description of you.If these are good descriptions of your current level of intimacy with God, wonderful; it is a cause for celebration. If they sound more like aspirational statements than descriptions of present reality, then ask God to help you unlock your deepest desires in that area of your life.
    1. Thoughts: Children of light think constantly about God, dwelling upon His greatness and loveliness.
    2. Feelings: Love is the dominant emotion of a child of light.
    3. Will (spirit, heart): They are habitually devoted to doing what is good and right. The will is habitually attuned to surrender and obedience.
    4. Body: Their bodies have come over to the side of their will to do what is good and are constantly poised to do what is right and good.
    5. Social Relations: Children of light are completely transparent in relations with others.
    6. Soul: All of the above are not just at the surface, they are deep and effortless.
  4. Manresa Moments: Knowing Jesus by Experience each DayIgnatius believed that the heart of discipleship is “knowing” (interacting with) Christ. Re-visit your idea for becoming more aware of Christ present through the day (See session 4) and re-commit to putting at least 3 of these practices into your daily routine.
  5. La Storta Moments: The Pain and Joy of Moving Learning How to Diet“Sin always splits the self to some degree. . . . You know that you have harmed yourself and others, but you probably are not going to come to terms with that because you’re carrying on a charade of righteousness, even if you don’t believe it. So confession is very deep in the process of discovering the soul.”3There are several things necessary for giving a good confession. (1) An examination of conscience: Inviting God to show us when we are moving away from his Kingdom and into the kingdom of our ego and self-will; (2) Sorrow: Like Peter, falling to the bottom of the boat with deep regret and abhorrence; (3) Determination to stop the movements away from intimacy with God; and (4) Avoidance of non-Godly sorrow. [Note: Godly sorrow leads to a restoration of relationship and lightness of being. Non-Godly sorrow can lead to self-condemnation, despair, pity, and self-indulgence.]
  6. Daily examen: Embracing the Consolation God Want to Give UsResolve to set aside time each day to walk through the five steps of the Examen as presented above.
    1. Gratitude
    2. ReviewRemember Ignatius would encourage you to pay attention to moments where you may have had an experience of God. Moments when:
      1. Your heart burned with new love for God.
      2. You were moved to tears over what you have done.
      3. You were drawn into greater faith and love.
      4. You experienced a real sense of settled peace in your life.
    3. Sorrow
    4. Forgiveness
    5. Grace

Scripture for Reflection

The following passages of Scripture were either referenced by Trevor in his talk or suggested by Dallas Willard to help us focus on some aspect of God’s offer of another kind of life. As your read each passage this week, notice if there is a word, or phrase, or sentence that connects deeply with you.

 

Hearts on Fire with New Love for God (Luke 24:28–32)

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

 

Hearts Filled with the Risen Christ (Ephesians 3:14–19)

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 

Hearts Filled with the Peace of the Risen Christ (Colossians 3:15–17)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

Becoming a Whole-Hearted Seeker (Jeremiah 29:11–14a)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”

 

Seek First the Kingdom (Mathew 6:28–34)

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Footnotes
  1. James Martin, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life (New York: HarperOne, 2012), 97.
  2. Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1988), ix.
  3. Dallas Willard, Living in Christ’s Presence: Final Words on Heaven and the Kingdom of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2017), 133.
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