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.


I Whisper to God said...

I feel like I should have goosebumps because I saw three signs which read "St. Ignatius Spirit" posted on the side of the road today while traveling home shortly before I read your twitter update about your blog post. I have never noticed these signs before today.

Lise said...

Wow. I Whisper to God's post is wild. I wonder what road the signs are on. Anyway, I'm in the equivalent of a small group (but not via Journey) and we have been reading a book called "Developing Intimacy with God: An Eight Week Prayer Guide Based on Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises." It's a lovely book - very accessible and hands on, plus great for a group format. The book highlights the same quotes Ed used this weekend in the chapter on Consolation and Desolation. I highly recommend the book. It takes the exercises, discusses them in a simple yet complex way and then gives daily exercises to do. But the author, Alex B. Aronis stresses that the main thing Ignatius taught was how to BE with God vs. "DO". It's very meditation based, although scripture is also highlighted.

That said, peace and prayers. It's so hard when in the desolation phase. Been there and will be back for sure.

bub said...

Lori: You should have goosebumps every time you read a post from me! LOL No, that is pretty wild. I was kinda thinking of you also when I was reading this. I know that you are struggling a little bit right now, I hope maybe it gives you some encouragement.

Lise: A road sign somewhere in fabulous Las Vegas, NV. I'm going to look for the book and pick it up. Thanks for the heads up. I missed Selah last night, I couldn't get myself to go to sleep. I think it had something to do with the heat. I'm going to have to do a Friday night, Sunday evening thing for me to be able to make one. I'll plan for it next month. I hope your friend had a great time playing last night. Thanks for the prayers, I can use 'em!

groovebunny said...

Hi Bub! What an incredibly deep post. Now that I'm semi-back I fully intend (not semi-intend) to get caught-up with your blog. :)) Spiritual exercises are so important to go through. The lucky ones I think are those who realize this...

Hugglies bub and I'll catch you soon. :))

Lise said...


It would be great to see you at Selah in May and it was such a delight to have my friend sing. Thanks!


Brenda said...

Hi Bub,

Sounds like you've been working extra hard again lately. Just wanted to let you know I'm thinking about ya and praying for you often.

Brenda :)

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