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Prayerful Thoughts: Passages 1 - 25
~ 1 ~
May the sovereign grace and eternal love of Christ our Lord and Creator greet and visit you with His gifts and graces for His greater service, praise and glory [Ep. 1:363].
~ 2 ~
Man was created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord and in this way to save his soul. The other things on earth were created for man's use, to help him reach the end for which he was created. Thus, it follows, that he must use these means, insofar as they help him to reach his goal, and to refrain from using them insofar as they keep him from that goal [Spir. Exer., "First Principle and Foundation"].
~ 3 ~
We should make ourselves indifferent to all creatures inasmuch as it is left to our individual freedom and not forbidden us; in this way we do not, on our part, prefer health to sickness, wealth to poverty, honors to dishonor, a long life to a short one, and so in all other things. We should only desire and choose those things that most lead us to the goal for which we were created [Spir. Exer., "First Principle and Foundation"].
~ 4 ~
For those who love, nothing is too difficult, especially when it is done for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ [Ep. 1:81].
~ 5 ~
I can love a person in this life only insofar as he tries to advance in the praise and service of God our Lord; for the man who loves anything for itself and not for the sake of God, does not love God with his whole heart [Ep. 1:80].
~ 6 ~
We esteem, honor, and love the apostles more than the other saints, because they served God more faithfully and because they loved Him more perfectly [Ep. 1:80].
The moment you decided to use all your strength in praising, honoring, and serving God our Lord, that was the moment you entered battle with the world, raised your standards against it, and made yourself ready to reject all that is exalted by embracing all that is lowly. At the same time you resolved to accept with indifference positions high or low, honor or dishonor, riches or poverty, to be loved or hated, to be appreciated or scorned—in short, the world's glory or the injuries it could inflict upon you [Ep. 1:86].
~ 8 ~
If we desire to live in honor and to be esteemed by our neighbors, then we shall never be solidly rooted in God our Lord, and it will be impossible for us to remain undisturbed when insults come our way [Ep. 1:86].
~ 9 ~
Remember me affectionately to John, and tell him that he must be always obedient to his parents and to keep the feast days; if he does this he will enjoy a long life on earth as well as in heaven [Ep. 1:75].
~ 10 ~
Realize that illness and other temporal setbacks often come to us from the hand of God our Lord, and are sent to help us know ourselves better, to free ourselves of the love of created things, and to reflect on the brevity of this life and, thus, to prepare ourselves for the life which is without end [Ep. 1:84].
~ 11 ~
God our Lord would have us look to the Giver and love Him more than His gift, keeping Him always before our eyes, in our hearts, and in our thoughts [Ep. 1:85].
~ 12 ~
Be generous to the poor orphans and those in need. The man to whom our Lord has been liberal ought not to be stingy. We shall one day find in heaven as much rest and joy as we ourselves have dispensed in this life [Ep. 1:81].
~ 13 ~
I ask you to put forth your every effort to win honor in heaven, fame and renown before the Lord, who is to be our judge. If God has given you the world's goods in abundance, it is to help you gain those of heaven and to be a good example of sound teaching to your sons, servants, and relatives [Ep. 1:81].
~ 14 ~
Setting aside one's private judgment, we should keep our minds ready and prepared to obey, in all matters, the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, that is our Holy Mother, the hierarchical Church [Spir. Exer., "Rules for Thinking with the Church"].
~ 15 ~
Among the many signs of a lively faith and hope we have in eternal life, one of the surest is not being overly sad at the death of those whom we dearly love in our Lord [Ep. 7:409-410].
~ 16 ~
Those who are not called to the first degree of perfection, viz., to desire only the possession of God, are at least held to aspire to the second degree, that is, to possess the goods of this earth without being possessed by them. If we do not renounce these goods for the sake of God, then we ought, at least, make them subordinate to God, and no matter how valuable they be, they must be placed lower than what the Gospel calls "the one thing necessary" (Luke 10:42) [Bart. 2:256].
~ 17 ~
The more completely we focus our attention on our Creator and Lord, the less chance there is of our being distracted by creatures [Ep. 7:411].
~ 18 ~
You are much deceived in thinking that the cause of your unrest and little progress in following the way of the Lord comes from the place where you live, or your superiors, or your brethren. This unrest comes from within you, that is, it comes from your own lack of humility, obedience, and prayer, and finally from a want of mortification and fervor in advancing in the way of perfection. You could have a change in residence, of superiors, and of brethren, but if the interior man is not changed these other changes will do you no good. Everywhere will be the same for you, unless you become humble, obedient, devout, and you mortify your self-love. This is the change you should seek and no other [Ep. 8:328-329].
~ 19 ~
Here's a bit of advice: sincerely humble yourself before your superior, seek his help, open your heart to him in confession or in whatever way you like, and gladly and devoutly accept the remedy he prescribes. Spend your time in discovering and bemoaning your own imperfections rather than dwelling on those of others [Ep. 8:329].
~ 20 ~
Whoever wishes to be of help to others should first attend to himself, enkindling in himself the charity he desires to enkindle in his neighbor [AS 782, no. 561].
~ 21 ~
In order to replace a bad habit with a good one, you must use effort upon effort, just as you use one nail to drive out another [AS 779, no. 456].
~ 22 ~
Being pilgrims, as we are, on this earth, and having our lasting city in the heavenly kingdom, we should not look upon it as a great loss when those we love in our Lord depart a little before us, for we too shall soon be following them to the place where Christ our Lord and Redeemer has prepared for us a most happy dwelling filled with His blessedness [Ep. 8:632].
~ 23 ~
Lord, what do I desire, if not You; and what could I desire other than You? [AS 763, no. 476].
~ 24 ~
Sometimes it is necessary, if I may so express it, to leave God in Himself in order to find God in our neighbor, for the Lord says: "I desire mercy and not sacrifice" (Matthew 9:13) [AS 779, no. 548].
~ 25 ~
The peace of our Lord is something interior, and it brings with it all the other gifts and graces necessary for salvation and eternal life. This peace makes us love our neighbor for the love of our Creator and Lord, and because of this same love we observe all the commandments of the law, as St. Paul says: "He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law" (Romans 13:8). He has fulfilled the law because he loves his Creator and Lord and loves his neighbor for his Lord's sake [Ep. 1:162].
Abbreviations Used in Citations:
AS Ribadeneira, P. de, Vita altera S. Ignatii in Acta Sanctorum, July, vol. 7.
Bart. Bartoli, D., Histoire de Saint Ignace et de l'origine de la Compagnie de Jésus, 3rd ed., 2 v. (Brussels, 1852). Translation of the original Italian of 1650.
Cons. Constitutions of the Society of Jesus.
Ep. Monumenta Ignatiana: Epistolae et Instructiones, 12 v. (Madrid, 1903-1911).
Gen. Exam. General Examen.
Spir. Exer. Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.