A number of years ago, we had our community retreat with a great Jesuit priest who shared a lot with us about Ignatian Prayer. One phrase that he loved to use has remained with me over the years: “stay with the fruit.” Even though it stood out to me then, I have to admit that I didn’t fully get what he meant by it. However, I just knew that there was something there for me, and throughout the years it has popped into my mind every so often.
Last year as I spoke with my spiritual director for one of our monthly meetings, I shared with him about a “big grace” that I had recently received. I was grateful for it and intrigued by it, because it was the grace of a deeper understanding of something that the Lord had spoken to me about several months earlier. My spiritual director really focused in on this, pointing out that what I was describing was a deepening of the word. He explained that I should really pay attention when the Lord speaks a clear word or when there is a certain word that keeps coming up repeatedly. He also encouraged me to be pro-active in bringing this word to prayer and seeking to foster its growth (like a plant: water it, fertilize it, nurture it, etc.). Instead of waiting for it to come up again, I should pursue it and meditate on it and invest in trying to plumb its depths.
In the spiritual life, as in so many things, we can easily fall into just living for the next spiritual buzz, whether it’s getting a retreat high, discovering a new artist or band, or listening to a great podcast. And though these things are not bad in themselves, they cannot be the sum total of our spiritual lives. But, sometimes we allow them to be. At times it can be hard to know what to do in prayer or how to spend time in silence with the Lord. We all have to learn to stay with the fruit.
Is there something specific that stood out to you in a recent homily, podcast, song, or retreat? Pursue it! Bring it up to the Lord in prayer, and allow it to seep deeply into your heart. I think I’m beginning to understand what Father meant when he shared that phrase with us on retreat – it is essential for our spiritual growth: stay with the fruit!
Sr. Kelly Francis, CFR