Health v. Sickness

This has not been a banner month for me physically. Although I have not suffered any serious illness, October has featured a stomach infection, root canal, quite painful tendonitis for which I’m currently undergoing physical therapy and a bad cold. I can’t think of one morning this month when I’ve woken up feeling good physically.

In moments when I grumble about the situation – and there have been more than a few of those – I bring to mind St. Ignatius’ Principle and Foundation, a meditation that is an early part of the Spiritual Exercises.

In one translation, the Principle and Foundation reads:

Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.

And the other things on the face of the earth are created for man and they may help him in prosecuting the end for which he is created.

From this it follows that man is to use them as much as they help him on to his end, and ought to rid himself of them so far as they hinder him as to it.

For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only that which is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

The first three paragraphs are easy enough. But, sigh, then comes the prescription to active indifference, and therin lies the rub, at least, in this case when it comes to not preferring health to sickness.

I can quite easily give verbal assent to wanting only that which is most conducive to the end for which I am created. But I confess I find it hard not to whine when I am feeling physically miserable. Moments like this are humbling, and all I can do is hold them up to God, praying for the grace to grow in active indifference.

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