5.1 Watch Out Self-Will! Incoming Bombs!

5.1

Days of Preparation: Week Five/Session One.

Theme: The Principle and Foundation.

Our reading for today: Ignatius’ Principle and Foundation.

God who loves us creates us and wants to share life with us forever. Our love response takes shape in our praise and honor and service of the God of our life.

All the things in this world are also created because of God’s love and they become a context of gifts, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.

As a result, we show reverence for all the gifts of creation and collaborate with God in using them so that by being good stewards we develop as loving persons in our care for God’s world and its development. But if we abuse any of these gifts of creation or, on the contrary, take them as the center of our lives, we break our relationship with God and hinder our growth as loving persons.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some responsibility. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a more loving response to our life forever with God.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me. (SE 23 contemporary translation by David L. Fleming, SJ)

Thus far, in our Ignatian adventure, we’ve explored the amazing, unconditional love that God, our Creator, has for all of us. We’ve pondered over scriptures that tell us that our Loving Father has been in the midst of our created world forever, and in fact, is the only true originator of this vast universe in which we live. We’ve also discussed how that same Creator/King bends down from heaven to look us in our one good eye, personally inviting us to a life of freedom, where we learn the fine art of living in the fullness of His agape love.

But now that we are several weeks into our journey, it’s time to address the obvious. Time to address the monster that lies deep within me. Time to call the monster by its true name.

Self-will.

As I see it, Ignatius, in his Spiritual Exercises, knew from personal experience that there was really only one thing inside him that could shipwreck his journey with the Divine. Only one monster that could raise its ugly head and blot out the foundational truths that 1) God is Love, and 2) that same Loving God is inviting me to walk hand in hand with Him through this life. So in his short writings (SE 23) Ignatius addresses this ugly monster of self-will by speaking out foundational truths about who God is and who we can be in relationship to that God. Principles that put down a set of railroad tracks on which our life in Christ can stay on track. And it’s in these words where he addresses the problems associated with our self-will, penning statements that challenge us to our very core.

We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a more loving response to our life forever with God. Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.

Touché! Now, we’re talking serious stuff here! My self-will has just taken a hit. How about yours?

More on that next time.

My prayer: Jesus, my self-will has just taken a blow. As I see it, I’ve been invited into a life-long relationship of Love with You, but now I see that my response to that invitation must also include the taming of the monster of self-will that rages inside me. Let me stay here for a moment, Master, while I weigh these thoughts. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: As I see it, Ignatius’ idea of not focusing our thoughts and desires on “health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one” is difficult for us Americanized Christians. What steps can I take today to move my focus off these externals in life onto Ignatius’ deeper hunger to desire and to choose whatever “better leads to God’s deepening life in me?”

So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?

Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!

To go onto the next journal entry…click here.

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