In the fourth week of the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius Loyola actually encourages us to ask for a particular favor from God. This suggestion is made in the spirit of focusing our prayers on the “one thing” that we most need. Now, he says, we should ask for the grace to grasp the breadth and height and depth of God’s love and to experience the love that surpasses all knowledge.
What might being able to grasp the breadth, height and depth of God’s love be like? What might it feel like to be filled full of a love that opens up new horizons for us? How would it change us to experience the abundance of God’s love?
These are not abstract questions for Ignatius. While he would never claim to know how each of us would be personally changed by experiences of God’s love, he did know from experience that God’s love changes things—changes everything, in fact. Life-giving love is transformative by definition.
Pedro Arrupe, minister general of the Jesuits, captures the transformative impact of God’s love when he tells us that falling in love “affects everything—what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.” It certainly changes our understanding of what natters and even if who we are.
Ask for this grace—not only to know God’s love but to experience God’s love anew—and thereby to be changed.