Last night a group at my church began the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. You can learn more about this great spiritual tool by hitting the St. Ignatius tab to the right.
Listening to Nancy, our facilitator, I was reminded of my own first encounter with the Exercises. During this first session, we talk a lot about balance. In fact, balance is one of the key factors in Ignatian Spirituality.
In his introduction, Ignatius wrote,
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 or a short life. The same holds for all other things.
Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created. (#23, First Principle and Foundation)
This contemporary version was written by Fr. John Reilly, SJ,
It follows that we will find our true selves in a freedom to choose what helps to share our lives with others, not what hinders this.
To come to this freedom we need at all times, where it is left to our own choice, to hold ourselves open and ready for all things, wealth or poverty, fame or disgrace, health or sickness, a long life or a short one, and with everything else.
So we want to be graced by God into a spiritual freedom that is both deeply interior and gratefully responsive to God’s prior love in creating us, to desire and choose in all things what better helps each of us to share the life for which God has made us all.
As I get older, I realize the importance of having balance in my life. Real, genuine, transformation cannot occur if our lives are out of balance, be it spiritual, emotional or physical. St. Ignatius reminds us that being somewhere in the middle of wealth and poverty, fame and disgrace, health and sickness, a long life and a short one, is an ok place to be. Of course, we need to strive to be financially secure and as healthy as possible.
In faith, however, Ignatius points out that if we appear to have lost everything, there is something that can never be taken away, and that is God’s love for us.
This is a wonderful Ignatian prayer known as the Suscipe, which is Latin for take.
Receive, O Lord, all my liberty.
Take my memory, my understanding, and my entire will.
Whatsoever I have or possess You have bestowed upon me;
I give it all back to You and surrender it wholly to be governed by YourWill.
Give me love for You alone along with Your grace,
and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.