Spiritual Reading 26

26. Practicing Spiritual Imagination

Intuition suddenly bursts out of the piled-up facts.

–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Mystics have visions; so can we. Visions may take the form of discernment, intuition, and self-discovery. Every once in awhile we seem to receive messages that come from nowhere we can locate or name. They may happen in prayer/contemplation or in the midst of ordinary mundane events. Revelations also reach us in events, people, dreams, and in synchronicity, meaningful and unsought coincidence and they usually have an image attached to them. Such revelations have a quality that is sure, grounded, non-emotional, yet clear, concise, and somehow directive. Such revelations stand out as different from normal thought processes. They are not the result of logic but come from the Higher Self, God within us. Such visions are trustworthy when they become pathways to virtue and wisdom rather than endorsements of our own pride.

St. Augustine, in his Confessions, shows that his memory and his imagination helped him resolve and let go of his past. This transition from attachment to the past into a new way of life was his redemption. This is also how our own active imagination can help us spiritually. The technique of active imagination can become a form of devotion since it makes images personal and we speak to them prayerfully. Jungian psychologist James Hillman writes this fascinating statement: “Contemplation of the Sacred Heart leads one beyond personal subjective feeling, expanding character toward charity, pity, and mercy.” He calls the human heart the primary organ of imagination which mediates the role of images in the life of the soul.

Imagination helps us survive in early life since our visualizing mommy when she is not there grants us security in her absence. Later in life we find ways to imagine kindness in the midst of unkindness, loyalty in the midst of absence, peace in a world of war, God in the midst of silence. This is a central achievement of sanity psychologically and of sanctity spiritually.

Active imagination opens our intuitive faculty. Here is a technique for active imagination to be done in writing with the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Use it also for other images that speak to you in spiritual ways:

  • Ask for the grace to let your heart become clear and open.
  • Dialogue with the Sacred Heart in the image and let it speak back to you being sure to ask what it wants you to know or do.
  • Find a felt sense of the Sacred Heart within yourself and visualize yourself acting in accord with it.
  • Amplify the image of the Heart of Jesus through each of your senses so that it becomes more than it ever was originally.
  • Show thanks for whatever revelation or help has come to you.

26.1. PRAYERS

In the nineteenth century, a book was published in the Eastern Orthodox world by an anonymous monk. It recommended a five-point spiritual practice: to visualize God’s presence, to use a mantra/prayer continually, to clear the mind of distractions, to focus the heart on spiritual progress, and to show universal love. The mantra/prayer is: “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner.” (We can substitute “seeker” for “sinner.”) The fascinating thing about this prayer is that it has been shown to activate the heart toward love. By repeating it as a mantra until it matches the rhythm of our heart beat, it induces compassion for others.

Heart of Jesus, in whom there is only Yes, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, from the Heart of Mary, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, center, source, and destiny of my heart, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, gate of Paradise, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, aglow with divine love, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, worthy of unending honor, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, treasury of wisdom and knowledge, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, from whose fullness we are all receiving, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, life force of nature and the universe, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, patient and most merciful, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, bountiful to all who turn to you, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, fountain of grace and holiness, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, loving intent behind every twist of fate, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, pierced to open, never to close, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, my life, my death, and my resurrection, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, pledge of tenderness, end of punishment, live through me for the good of all humanity

Heart of Jesus, exemplar of healthy love of ourselves, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, refuge from fear and grasping, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, refuge of loving-kindness and healing, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, inclusive of everyone and never giving up on anyone, live through me for the good of all humanity.

Heart of Jesus, abiding harmony of the universe, live through me for the good of all humanity.