The Jesus Meditations

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The Jesus Meditations

A Guide for Contemplation

Michael Kennedy, a pastor in East Los Angeles, brings us the contemplative practice that has catalyzed transformation in so many lives. Sit with Jesus and discover an intimate experience of the living God. Includes a CD of meditations narrated by Martin Sheen.

This method of solitary prayer was invented by a wounded army veteran, Ignatius of Loyola, and for centuries it has built up and supported Christians in the most adverse conditions—as lonely missionaries in foreign lands, under persecution, in secret hunted communities. Fr. Kennedy shares the success of this time-test mode of growing closer to Jesus on America’s front lines: in the violence-torn inner city, in prison, and many other places we’d rather not go—where Jesus walks to console those in greatest need. The latest in Crossroad’s series on Ignatian spirituality. (92)

Reviews and endorsements

"This is the first book l ever reviewed which I have not only read but prayed over. Kennedy, a gifted, even charismatic, pastor and long-time chaplain in jails, had earlier done specialized training in the practice of spiritual direction. This is the third of his published books of meditations. His previous volumes, Eyes on Jesus and Eyes on the Cross have captured a devoted following. In jails and in his parish setting, Kennedy deftly leads group meditations on vignettes from the gospel. Indeed, at his Hispanic parish, Dolores Mission, in East Los Angeles, the parishioners complain if he preaches an ordinary homily too often and neglects doing, instead, a guided meditation from the pulpit. The gospel scenes, they claim, penetrate more deeply the marrow of their lives in the guided meditation format.

What sets The Jesus Meditations apart from Kennedy's earlier volumes is the introduction of each of the sixteen meditations by narratives from a range of persons who recount events, in their ordinary lives, where they have encountered Jesus and found transformation or healing. We hear the voices of a businessman, a bishop, a psychiatrist, a social worker, a woman in prison and a man serving a life sentence, a refugee, a recovering alcoholic, a prominent political figure, a superintendent of a Catholic school system speaking of crises, hurts, joys, vocational calls, turn-around conversions in their lives, places where they have met Jesus. Kennedy displays a genius for combining a simple, direct and heart-felt style of poetic prose with a portrayal of Jesus as real, incarnate and engaged in Iife's issues. Theologians tell us that the scriptures are books which read us as much as we read them. The strong virtue of this volume is that it presents, in ways accessible both to the most ordinary person in the pew and the most sophisticated, a vivid portrait of Jesus in action.

Readers familiar with the Ignatian method of contemplation, by which meditators use their senses and imaginations to place themselves into the scenes of the gospel, will find here, a vade mecum exemplar of how to do it well. The book resonates strongly with Kennedy's own passions to quilt together spirituality and social justice, but does so in the natural way that occurs to those who enter anew the world of Jesus rather than through a more moralistic imposition of justice themes.

A Jesuit friend of mine, a most sophisticated, even a bit cynical 'critter,' told me recently he turns to Kennedy's meditations so that his heart and not just his head gets touched. The structure of each meditation includes, at the end, helpful probing questions to turn the meditation toward one's own situation in life. The meditations are equally geared for adaptation to a group setting or private prayer. Having witnessed in person Kennedy leading guided Ignatian contemplations, I have become convinced that such meditation in a group format can offer a rich resource in parish and other church settings to help people find Jesus in their rooted and busy lives. Originally, Kennedy had wanted to call this volume, To See as Jesus Saw. Naturally, we all see Jesus, filtered through our own eyes, but meditation forces us to stretch and challenge our ordinary ways of seeing. As l grow older, I have become increasingly convinced that tapping and renewing one's religious imagination is key to spiritual sustenance and growth. Kennedy has an especially rich religious imagination. Most touching for me in this rich devotional source were the reflections of a man serving a life sentence in prison, a woman in jail, a refugee facing deportation proceedings. One comes away from this book convinced that there is no place where the light of Jesus's imagination cannot give hope for another way of seeing, acting, being."
John A. Coleman S.J. Casassa Professor of Social Values, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles

9780824519292
Paperback / 192 pages
Dimensions: 6 x 9
CROSSROAD, 2002