When I visualize the Communion of Saints, there are several saints who stand out front and center. St. Vincent de Paul, St. Francis, John the Baptist, to name a few, along with the saint whose memorial we celebrate today, St. Ignatius of Loyola. So it is with particular delight that I find myself on this day at St. Ignatius Retreat House in Manhasset, NY (where I served as a staff associate before our move to the Twin Cities).
St. Ignatius has been a very influential figure in my spiritual growth. His vision is contained in his Spiritual Exercises, which so very many people have done over years, either in the form of a 30-day retreat or in the form of the 19th Annotation (the form in which I did the exercises), which involves a “retreat in daily living” lasting for approximately 9 months.
A foundational element of the Spiritual Exercises is a reflection called the Principle and Foundation, which is prayed with very early in the exercises. I decided there is little better I could offer on this day than an invitation to spend some time reflecting on something Ignatius believed we could profitably spend much time with. Here is David Fleming’s translation of the Principle and Foundation:
The Goal of our life is to live with God forever.
God, who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God’s life
to flow into us without limit.
All the things in this world are gifts from God,
Presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God
Insofar as they help us to develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
They displace God
And so hinder our growth toward our goal.
In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
Before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice
And are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
Wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
A deeper response to our life in God.
Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads
To God’s deepening his life in me.
I’m here at St. Ignatius to give an 8-day guided retreat (The Gift of an Awakened Heart), which begins with dinner this evening. I would be grateful for your prayers for me and my retreatants.