Sunday, April 19, 2009

St. Ignatius Spiritual Exercises

I really needed Journey this morning. I've been going through a period of spiritual desolation and I didn't even know it. I mean I knew that I was struggling and going through a tough time but wasn't quite aware of it being a spiritual malady within me. Ed talked about this at the end of his message and mentioned St. Ignatius and his Spiritual Exercises. What follows is the chapter that he commented on. I figured if I could relate, maybe the rest of you could also. It's somewhat of a tough read, but if you are there it makes complete sense even if the wording is a little rough to a modern day American speaker like myself. Enjoy.





First Rule. The first Rule: In the persons who go from mortal sin to mortal sin, the enemy is commonly used to propose to them apparent pleasures, making them imagine sensual delights and pleasures in order to hold them more and make them grow in their vices and sins. In these persons the good spirit uses the opposite method, pricking them and biting their consciences through the process of reason.

Second Rule. The second: In the persons who are going on intensely cleansing their sins and rising from good to better in the service of God our Lord, it is the method contrary to that in the first Rule, for then it is the way of the evil spirit to bite, sadden and put obstacles, disquieting with false reasons, that one may not go on; and it is proper to the good to give courage and strength, consolations, tears, inspirations and quiet, easing, and putting away all obstacles, that one may go on in well doing.

Third Rule. The third: Of Spiritual Consolation. I call it consolation when some interior movement in the soul is caused, through which the soul comes to be inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord; and when it can in consequence love no created thing on the face of the earth in itself, but in the Creator of them all.

Likewise, when it sheds tears that move to love of its Lord, whether out of sorrow for one’s sins, or for the Passion of Christ our Lord, or because of other things directly connected with His service and praise.

Finally, I call consolation every increase of hope, faith and charity, and all interior joy which calls and attracts to heavenly things and to the salvation of one’s soul, quieting it and giving it peace in its Creator and Lord.

Fourth Rule. The fourth: Of Spiritual Desolation. I call desolation all the contrary of the third36 rule, such as darkness37 of soul, disturbance in it, movement to things low and earthly, the unquiet of different agitations and temptations, moving to want of confidence, without hope, without love, when one finds oneself all lazy, tepid, sad, and as if separated from his Creator and Lord. Because, as consolation is contrary to desolation, in the same way the thoughts which come from consolation are contrary to the thoughts which come from desolation.

Fifth Rule. The fifth: In time of desolation never to make a change; but to be firm and constant in the resolutions and determination in which one was the day preceding such desolation, or in the determination in which he was in the preceding consolation. Because, as in consolation it is rather the good spirit who guides and counsels us, so in desolation it is the bad, with whose counsels we cannot take a course to decide rightly.

Sixth Rule. The sixth: Although in desolation we ought not to change our first resolutions, it is very helpful intensely to change ourselves against the same desolation, as by insisting more on prayer, meditation, on much examination, and by giving ourselves more scope in some suitable way of doing penance.

Seventh Rule. The seventh: Let him who is in desolation consider how the Lord has left him in trial in his natural powers, in order to resist the different agitations and temptations of the enemy; since he can with the Divine help, which always remains to him, though he does not clearly perceive it: because the Lord has taken from him his great fervor, great love and intense grace, leaving him, however, grace enough for eternal salvation.

Eighth Rule. The eighth: Let him who is in desolation labor to be in patience, which is contrary to the vexations which come to him: and let him think that he will soon be consoled, employing against the desolation the devices, as is said in the sixth Rule.38

Ninth Rule. The ninth: There are three principal reasons why we find ourselves desolate.

The first is, because of our being tepid, lazy or negligent in our spiritual exercises; and so through our faults, spiritual consolation withdraws from us.

The second, to try us and see how much we are and how much we let ourselves out in His service and praise without such great pay of consolation and great graces.

The third, to give us true acquaintance and knowledge, that we may interiorly feel that it is not ours to get or keep great devotion, intense love, tears, or any other spiritual consolation, but that all is the gift and grace of God our Lord, and that we may not build a nest in a thing not ours, raising our intellect into some pride or vainglory, attributing to us devotion or the other things of the spiritual consolation.

Tenth Rule. The tenth: Let him who is in consolation think how he will be in the desolation which will come after, taking new strength for then.

Eleventh Rule. The eleventh: Let him who is consoled see to humbling himself and lowering himself as much as he can, thinking how little he is able for in the time of desolation without such grace or consolation.

On the contrary, let him who is in desolation think that he can do much with the grace sufficient to resist all his enemies, taking strength in his Creator and Lord.

Twelfth Rule. The twelfth: The enemy acts like a woman, in being weak against vigor and strong of will. Because, as it is the way of the woman when she is quarrelling with some man to lose heart, taking flight when the man shows her much courage: and on the contrary, if the man, losing heart, begins to fly, the wrath, revenge, and ferocity of the woman is very great, and so without bounds; in the same manner, it is the way of the enemy to weaken and lose heart, his temptations taking flight, when the person who is exercising himself in spiritual things opposes a bold front against the temptations of the enemy, doing diametrically the opposite. And on the contrary, if the person who is exercising himself commences to have fear and lose heart in suffering the temptations, there is no beast so wild on the face of the earth as the enemy of human nature in following out his damnable intention with so great malice.

Thirteenth Rule. The thirteenth: Likewise, he acts as a licentious lover in wanting to be secret and not revealed. For, as the licentious man who, speaking for an evil purpose, solicits a daughter of a good father or a wife of a good husband, wants his words and persuasions to be secret, and the contrary displeases him much, when the daughter reveals to her father or the wife to her husband his licentious words and depraved intention, because he easily gathers that he will not be able to succeed with the undertaking begun: in the same way, when the enemy of human nature brings his wiles and persuasions to the just soul, he wants and desires that they be received and kept in secret; but when one reveals them to his good Confessor or to another spiritual person that knows his deceits and evil ends, it is very grievous to him, because he gathers, from his manifest deceits being discovered, that he will not be able to succeed with his wickedness begun.

Fourteenth Rule. The fourteenth: Likewise, he behaves as a chief bent on conquering and robbing what he desires: for, as a captain and chief of the army, pitching his camp, and looking at the forces or defences of a stronghold, attacks it on the weakest side, in like manner the enemy of human nature, roaming about, looks in turn at all our virtues, theological, cardinal and moral; and where he finds us weakest and most in need for our eternal salvation, there he attacks us and aims at taking us.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

OK a Real Post

I do a daily bible reading program. I've never read it in it's entirety. Ed Noble mentioned this in church and on his blog at the beginning of this year so I took him up on it. It's been mostly good, a lot convicting, and sometimes horribly disconcerting. In the Old Testament I've read Genesis through Deuteronomy and in the New Testament the Gospel of Matthew as well as Acts and Romans.

Are there parts of the Bible that you get hung up on? That you just can't get your head around? I love Romans. I love the way Paul explains our new relationship with God after Jesus came and died for our sins. I love his humanity in chapter 7 as he explains how he does what he hates to do. I'm really grateful that I go to a church that lets me know that it's OK to stumble. That God's grace covers all. I know being raised Catholic it didn't always feel that way. I know that as a catholic I felt out of the going to heaven game by the time I was eighteen, if not younger. The way that I lived my life from that point forward was kind of a confirmation that I thought I was going to Hell so I was going to make the most of the time that I had here on Earth. Easier yet, I decided not to believe in anything at all, which made it easier than ever to do whatever I wanted, regardless of the consequence.

Which had nothing to do with the opening sentence of the last paragraph. Sometimes I digress. I ran into a really disturbing passage in Deuteronomy the other day. It goes like this:

Because of the suffering that your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the LORD your God has given you. 54 Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, 55 and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities. 56 The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter 57 the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For she intends to eat them secretly during the siege and in the distress that your enemy will inflict on you in your cities. - Deuteronomy 28:53-57

That's the worst of the chapter. From Deuteronomy 28:15-68 it's brutal. I mean, some really, really horrible consequences. I was feeling the revulsion of these words again as I was copying and pasting them onto this post. If I was joking around, it sounded to me like Ali talking about what he was going to do to an opponent before one of his fights. I have to be honest though, I don't think this is anything to joke about. If you know me, that's rare. If I had been an Israelite I would have been terrified. Hell, I'm terrified for them just reading it.

So here's my dilemna. I don't even know that I can call it a dilemna really. I think when you let Christ in your life you give up the right to question what you read in the Bible. Hmm, that's not it. I make a decision to have faith that the Word is right and that I don't understand everything. That's a little better. I think as a thinking human being I'm going to question things that confuse me. That don't seem to line up square in my perception. I think that I'm even going to be angry and confused about things that God says in his book.

Believe me, God can and will do whatever He wants. I'm not egocentric enough to think that I know better than Him. I just have a hard time reconciling the God of Deuteronomy with the God that I've been learning about in Romans. I understand Grace and Christ's sacrifice doing away with the old law. I understand that when I accepted Jesus into my life that I made a new covenant with God.

I've been reading The Shack. It's a good book, maybe a little too new agey for me. In a lot of ways it remined me of Illusions by Richard Bach. Which was an awesome book, it was one of the first books I read that poked some holes in my youthful conception (or non-conception) of God. There again, the author has God as Papa. Papa is this wonderful entity just oozing love and forgiveness. Same with the book version of Jesus. I think that the author (willie) painted them with what? Too bland of colors? I thought the Holy Spirit (sarayu) was well done. I guess whenever we try to write about God we are putting Him in a box and as I'm constantly reminded, He's a little too big to try and cage in and say "This is God."

Here's what's been happening as I'm writing this post. I'm realizing that God is way too big for me to try and pin down. That I can still have my doubts, my moments of confusion, and yes, anger and still love Him. There are still things that maybe I'm too new in Christ to comprehend since I haven't read the full story. I'll just keep praying that He will open my eyes to the things unseen.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Talkin' 'bout ABC's!

Since I haven't been posting much I thought I might do this meme that I found on my buddy Brenda's blog from Beside the Sea. I probably shouldn't though since she totally got me on April Fool's day with one of her posts. Oh well, forgive and forget I say.

A - Age: 43.

B - Baseball Game or Ballet:
Baseball baby!

C - Chore you hate:
Cleaning the bathroom, yuck!

D - Dream Vacation:
The Holy Land

E - Easter candy:Too easy.
Jelly beans!

F - Favorite Flowers:
A rose by any other name would be as sweet?

G - Games:
Ummm, Poker's still a game right?

H - Height:
5' 8 1/2.

I - Instrument you play:
Guitar and bass.

J - Job title:
Receiving Associate.

K - Kindergarten Memory:
Hiding in the little playroom they had.

L - Luxury you live without:

M - Mexican food choice:
Whatever mi madre en law es making!

N - Nickname:
bub, krazy joe, Paulie, Uncle Paulie, dad.

O - Overnight hospital stay:
Never have had one.

P - Pet Peeve: Tardiness. Mine or others.

Q - Quotes you like:
Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn. - Deuteronomy 10:16. or God.

R - Rainforest or Redwoods:

S - Siblings:
My beautiful sister Shelly!

T - Television favorites:
The Office and American Idol.

U - Ultimate dessert:
Ice Cream cake! MMMMMMM!

V - Vegetable you dislike:

W - Ways you run late:
Poop. I forgot to set my alarm last night. Only the second time I've been late to work in the last two years. See pet peeves.

X - X-rays you've had:
teeth, arm, fingers, ribs.

Y - Yummy food you make:
ummmmm, hamburger helper? I'm such a gourmet!

Z - Zoo animal that's your favorite: