Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ignatius- 1st Principle and Foundation and Discernment

SSM 3i,ii

Dear Thomas,

Your movement to begin looking at monastic orders seems to be moving at a pace that even surprises me. I'm sure you will soon find that the abbot of the order will not move towards entry at the same pace as you might desire. There is good reason for this, proven by the endurance of each order. The desire to quickly enter an order is itself an attachment, albeit an attachment to the dream to escape whatever is causing you anxiousness in your life at this moment.

I would advise you not to strictly read up on the various orders in the Catholic Encyclopedia, or even Wikipedia. You must talk to the abbot, and you must meet with your spiritual director even more often during this period of discovery. I realize the attraction that you have for the Franciscans is genuine, but again you must not make a decision until you have overcome the false excitement of escaping your current life.

You must be prepared to hear 'NO' and be at peace with that response, even joyful at such a revelation of God's grace. The desire must be for the right answer from God, not for 'Yes'.

How to do this?

Aw, this is the good news!

You have already encountered the 1st Principle and Foundation of Ignatius, and in it, the guidance towards the exercise that will lead to a decision based on spiritual freedom.

The First Principle and Foundation

The human person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord, and by doing so, to save his or her soul.

All other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings in order to help them pursue the end for which they are created.

It follows from this that one must use other created things, in so far as they help towards one's end, and free oneself from them, in so far as they are obstacles to one's end.

To do this, we need to make ourselves indifferent to all created things, provided the matter is subject to our free choice and there is no other prohibition.

Thus, as far as we are concerned, we should not want health more than illness, wealth more than poverty, fame more than disgrace, a long life more than a short one, and similarly for all the rest, but we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created.

Begin by an examination of your day, your week, and this moment, and as Ignatius suggests, ask whether your action, your desire, your prayer is for the praise, reverence and service to God. And do not allow yourself to fool yourself by pretending that what is 'of God' is only, in fact, self serving, or self-falsehood.

This will take practice, but like all practices, you will soon develop a kind of memory for what Ignatius means by indifference.

The real fruit of this practice will be an awareness of all the things to which you are attached, and which lead you to trouble, anxiety, and confusion.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Make me a priest!

SSM 2iv

Dear Thomas,

As you talked about your experience yesterday I sensed that you were being drawn toward, rather than driven away. And then came your description of what was happening at that moment:

"It was a strong and sweet and deep and insistent attraction that suddenly made itself felt, but not as movement of appetite towards any sensible good. It was something in the order of conscience, a new and profound and clear sense that this was what I really ought to do."

Often a characteristic of the movement of God is difficult to describe, and so we use words like 'felt', and 'sense'.

Then, in my experience, and in my study of the works of Ignatius, I am prompted to look at the entire experience. For Ignatius says that:

"If in the course of our thoughts or our actions we find that from the beginning to end our eyes have remained fixed on the Lord, we can be sure that the good spirit has been moving us...."

So when you mentioned that you continued on your walk, and then 'some kind of instinct' prompted you to go St Francis Xavier church, I recognized the middle of the experience. Thoughts were leading to action, but the action of an explorer who trusted his guide.

The doors of the church were locked. Can you describe this moment? What was the spirit saying to you at this moment?

Then, a basement door catches your eye. And "ordinarily I would not have noticed such a door." Then you stated:

"But something prompted me: 'Try that door.'"

There it is! Do you see? The unknown that we only can call 'something' because we haven't enough experience to know what to call this presence, this 'something'. All that matters now is that you recall that moment, as God's own desire and your desire met. There it is!

You may think that the climax of the experience came later after entering the basement of the church to find yourself at the end of a novena service, saying aloud to Him- "Yes I want to be a priest, with all my heart I want it. If it is Your will, make me a priest-make me a priest."
But I tell you, it is that 'something' that you will return to, again and again.

A Saint?

SSM 2ii

Dear Thomas

I am not confused or disappointed that in response to my question about whom you wish to become you have settled upon, after first responding 'a famous author', the more ambitious 'a saint'. We often run away from that word because it conjures up some polished image of Ignatius or Francis or Theresa that ignores the humanness that surely was as present in them as it is in you.
Perhaps the desire to be an author, famous or not, and the desire to be a saint are not as disconnected as you think. Both are susceptible to attachments.
You stated that you see our community as full of people that want to be kind and pleasant and love good things and serve God, but they do not know how. And they do not know how to find out.
Was Benedict a saint because he performed miracles, or because he knew how to help his community of monks find out how to love and serve God? And he was, among other things, an author.
Start with this. Want to be a saint.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ignatius- 1st Principle and Foundation

We are created to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord and by this means to save our souls.

The other things on the face of the earth are created for us to help us in attaining the end for which we are created.

Hence, we are to make use of them in as far as they help us in the attainment of our end and we must rid ourselves of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to us. Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. That same holds for all other things.

Our one destire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created.