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.

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