Just as I was contemplating some big questions yesterday, I pulled out the book, “Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits,” and read this beautiful reflection by Anthony de Mello, the late Jesuit from India who conducted countless workshops throughout the world on the subject of prayer and reflective living. This meditation is called “A Testament,” and prompts you to reflect on the kinds of questions that surface at the most inconvenient times: like on a choppy flight across the US or in a hospital room with your three-year-old daughter.

I imagine that today I am to die.
I ask for time to be alone and write down for my friends
a sort of testament for which the points that follow
could serve as chapter titles.

1. These things I have loved in life: things I have tasted, looked at, smelled, heard, touched.
2. These experiences I have cherished:
3. These ideas have brought me liberation:


4. These beliefs I have outgrown:
5. These convictions I have lived by:
6. These are the things I have lived for:
7. These insights I have gained in the school of life: insights into God, the world, human nature, Jesus Christ, love, religion, prayer.
8. These risks I took, these dangers I have courted:
9. These sufferings have seasoned me:
10. These lessons life has taught me:
11. These influences have shaped my life: persons, occupations, books, events.
12. These Scripture texts have lit my path:
13. These things I regret about my life:
14. These are my life’s achievements:
15. These persons are enshrined within my heart:
16. These are my unfulfilled desires:
I choose an ending for this document:
A poem—my own or someone else’s;
or a prayer;
a sketch or a picture from a magazine;
a Scripture text;
or anything that I judge would be an apt conclusion to my testament.

–Anthony De Mello, S.J.

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