'Imaginative Contemplation' is a series of short meditations based on different incidents of the life of Christ, as recorded in the four gospels. Starting with the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary, the meditations take in some of the key events including Christ's baptism, his temptation in the wilderness, some of the healings and other miracles, as well as his death, resurrection and the gathering of his disciples. The meditations are based upon the method of study and reflection recommended by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, in his book 'Spiritual Exercises'. The idea is to prepare for the time of reflection and meditation by properly preparing oneself by sitting comfortably and relaxing. Once prepared the reader is then encouraged to read each study slowly and carefully and imagine that they are actually present at the scene being described, hearing the sounds, seeing the sights and feeling the emotions; hence Imaginative Contemplation. This type of study then helps the reader to enter into the scenes rather than just viewing them from a 'distance'.
Encouragements to aid the reader in the exercise are included in the text, for example by suggesting that the heat of the sun can be felt or the softness of the sand under the feet or by hearing the children playing nearby in a village. To help put the scenes in context the relevant bible passages are quoted at the beginning of each chapter. The book concludes with some passages from other parts of the bible and some reflections on them in the context of the rest of the book.
Ronald Davies is a member of the St. Beuno's Outreach Team who introduce laymen and women to Ignatian Spirituality in the Diocese of Wrexham, North Wales.