Discussion Questions, Storytelling, Sharing

  • Share an example of a situation when your willingness to be compassionate was tested. What do you usually do when you meet someone in need of help? What kinds of questions do you ask yourself? What conditions do you set?
  • Tell a story about a moral mentor you have known, someone who inspired you with his or her compassionate activity.

Imagery Exercise

The following exercise uses a method described in The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola.

Read the Parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible — Luke 10: 29-37. If you like, also read Biblical commentaries in order to better understand the attitudes the different characters represent.

Imagine yourself in the scene of the story on the road to Jerico. Be one of the people in the story: the man beaten and robbed by thieves, the priest who passes by, the Levite who walks away, the Samaritan who tends to his wounds, the innkeeper who cares for him. You also may choose to remain an observer of these events. Notice your location and how you are feeling.

Replay the sequence of events in the story, staying with any parts of it that touch you. Being there now in the story, what do you say? What do you do? How do you feel about what is happening?

End this exercise with a prayer of gratitude for this experience of compassion.

Journal Exercises

  • Identify an area where you need to be compassionate to yourself. Write about how you will go about this.
  • Make a list of "missed opportunities" to show compassion to poor, sick, lonely, alienated, or hurting beings. Look for any patterns in your behavior or inaction. Identify an obstacle or rationalization that has kept you from being more compassionate.