Read & Study the Bible Online - Bible Portal
Excerpts from 'Devotional Classics' edited by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) Introduction to the Author Ignatius was born in the family castle of Loyola in the Basque country of Spain. His family belonged to a long line of nobility, and Ignatius reflected his refined upbringing throughout his early life. He participated in all the revelry of royalty - gambling, dueling, romance and worldly attraction. In 1517 he took service in the army and in May 1521 received a leg wound in a border skirmish with the French. He returned to Loyola to recuperate and found himself able to do nothing but read. He happened upon a book called 'The Life of Christ' and was concerted as a result. He also read 'The Imitation of Christ' and the stories of St. Francis. He concluded by asking 'Could I not do what Francis did?' He then resolved to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, disposed of all his worldly goods and clothed himself in sackcloth. His ship was detained in Manresa, however, and he was forced to remain there a year. During that time he had several profound experiences that led him to begin sharing his faith with others. He also penned a large portion of 'The Spiritual Exercises' during his stay in Manresa and carried these notes with him as he continued his journey to Jerusalem. Ignatius would later become famous for these simple yet profound instructions on how to take a spiritual retreat. His 'exercises' became the standard for Jesuit retreats and have remained so to this day. Excerpts from 'The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius' 1. Different Movements The following are some rules for perceiving and understanding the different movements that are produced in the soul - the good that should be accepted and the bad that should be rejected. The enemy is accustomed ordinarily to propose apparent pleasure to those persons who go from mortal sin to mortal sin. He thus causes them to imagine sensual delights and pleasure in order to hold them more and more easily and to increase their vices and sins. The good spirit acts in these persons in a contrary way, awakening the conscience to a sense of remorse through the good judgment of their reason. This takes place in those who earnestly strive to purify themselves for their sins. For this person it is common for the evil spirit to cause anxiety and sadness and to create obstacles based on false reasoning, thus preventing the soul from making further progress. It is characteristic of the good spirit to give courage and strength, consolation, tears, inspiration and peace, making things easy and removing all obstacles so that the soul may make further progress. 2. Tears inspired by love I call it consolation when the soul is aroused by an interior movement which causes it to be inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord and consequently can love no created thing in this world for its own sake, but only in the Creator of all things. It is also consolation when one sheds tears inspired by love of the Lord, whether it be sorrow for sins or because of the passion of Christ our Lord, or for any other reason that is directly connected to His service and praise. Finally I call consolation any increase in faith, hope, and charity and any interior joy that calls and attracts to heavenly things, and to the salvation of one's soul, inspiring it with peace and quiet in Christ our Lord. I call desolation all that is contrary to the rule; as darkness of the soul, turmoil of the mind, inclination to low and earthly things, restlessness resulting from many disturbances and temptations which leads to loss of faith, loss of hope and loss of love. It is also desolation when the soul finds itself completely apathetic, tepid, sad and separated from it's Creator and Lord. 3. Stand firm and constant In time of desolation one should never make a change, but stand firm and constant in the resolution and decision which guided him the day before the desolation or to the decision which he observed in the preceding consolation. Following the counsel of desolation is never the right path to a correct decision. Although we don't change our earlier resolutions when in desolation, we should intensify our activity against the desolation. This can be done by insisting on more prayer, meditation, frequent examinations. 4. Why we are in desolation There are three reasons we are in desolation. First, because we have been tepid, slothful or negligent in our spiritual exercises and so through our own fault spiritual consolation has withdrawn from us. Second, is that God may try to test our worth and the progress that we have made in His service and praise. Third is that He may wish to give us a true knowledge and understanding so that we may truly perceive that it is not within our power to acquire or retain great devotion, ardent love, tears or any other spiritual consolation but that all of this is a gift and a grace of our Lord. 5. The sufficient grace A person who is in consolation ought to think of how he will conduct himself during a future desolation and thus build up a new strength for that time. A person in consolation ought to take care to be humble as recall how it is a short step to desolation. 6. A show of determination The enemy is weak in the presence of strength but strong if he has our will. he will lose courage and take flight when we make a show of determination. In like manner if we lose courage and begin to retreat, the anger, rage and vindictiveness of the enemy becomes great beyond all bounds. The enemy will lose courage and take flight as soon as a person who is following the spiritual life stands courageously against his temptations and does exactly the opposite of what the enemy suggests. 7. A false lover The enemy also behaves like a false lover who wishes to remain hidden and does not want to be revealed. When the enemy tempts a just soul with his wiles and deceits, he wishes and desires that they may be received and kept in secret. When they are revealed to some other spiritual person who understands his deceits and evil designs, the enemy is greatly displeased for he knows that he cannot succeed in his evil design once his obvious deceits have been discovered. 8. An angel of light It belongs to God and His angels to bring true happiness and spiritual joy to the soul and to free it from the sadness and disturbance which the enemy causes, It is the nature of the enemy to fight against such joy and spiritual consolation by proposing (seemingly) serious reasons subtleties and continual deceptions. Also it is characteristic for the evil one to transform himself into an angel of light, to work with the soul in the beginning but in the end work for himself. At first he will suggest good and holy thoughts and then little by little he strives to gain his own ends by drawing the soul into his hidden deceits. Read: 1 Peter 5:6-11 Reflection 1. There has always been a lot of discussion about the spiritual realm of good and evil. How do you understand the presence and work of angels and demons? How did Ignatius clarify or confuse your previous understanding? 2. Feelings of consolation and desolation are one of the main topics of this selection on discerning the spirits. Have you ever experienced either of these in the manner Ignatius describes? How? 3. What are the three reasons Ignatius gives for a soul entering into a state of desolation? Have any of these three been a part of your experience? How did the Spirit move in order to help you grow in that situation? 4. Ignatius reveals the enemies one great fear. What is it? What can we do to ensure that the enemy has that fear? 5. In 1 Peter 5:6-11 especially verse 8, Peter offers us both a warning and some advice when we face temptation. What are they? Compare this counsel with the teachings of Ignatius. 6. The devil will attack our weakest side, says Ignatius. However, we can combat this attack by knowing where we are weak and making a move to strengthen that side. This week make it your goal to discover your weakest areas and resolve to strengthen then. 7. Pay close attention this week to the inner movements of your soul. Discern the source of your thoughts and feelings by using Ignatius' descriptions. 8. The enemy is weak in the presence of strength, writes Ignatius. Stand firm in the presence of temptation this week, relying not on your own strength but on the strength of God.

Be the first to react on this!

Group of Brands