A basement, or the basis or base of a building, is also the foundation of that building. In the Spiritual Exercises Ignatius begins with a most basic foundational statement. It is a simple formula but not always easy to accept. “Human beings are created.” Each one of us is always being created by God’s grace and the experiences that come from living our lives each day.
One of the more difficult factors to accept in being created is that we are limited; we have actual limitations of all kinds. We have age, size, abilities, personality, and gifts, but they are all limited by our not being God. We are who and what we are by God’s creative love. Ignatius begins where we wish we might get to in time and with God’s care.
Why we are being created is the second major section of this “basement platform.” Ignatius was aware of the many answers humanity had proposed for this huge question. He had accepted that there is a God and that he is, and we are, creatures, but now the next big question had to be solved. How he answered these big questions and how we are invited to answer them determined the style of his life and will fashion ours. For Ignatius the answers to these big questions were simple, but it was far from easy to live them. With our limited selves, we are created to praise God for who God is as infinite Creator, and for creating each of us with these sometimes hard to accept limitations. We are created as well to serve this creating God with and through the gifts we have been given — of course, through and with these same limitations. No gift is meant just for ourselves; instead, they are gifts from God to me and through me to God’s creating family.
The third aspect forming the major section of this basement is that, to serve in praise this God, we must reverence creation, which possesses God’s fingerprints. Reverencing God will become a way of living by our becoming aware of the very holy presence of God in all other creatures. The challenge in our prayer is to be freed to reverence our own limitations enough so that, in our life given to serve God, we gratefully allow those limitations to be public, yet prophetic.
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