Larry Gillick, S.J.

Every organization, trade, or subculture has its own unique vocabulary or lingo. Creighton, being guided by the spirituality of Ignatius, too has certain words which float around in conversation and presentations. Words, which when understood, help all the members of the Creighton- culture to know what we are talking about.

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
Ignatius, before his conversion, established his identity upon his self-centered glorification. “To the greater glory of God” means a transformation or reorienting of just what our own actions are revealing. The word “gloriam” means “revelation.” Ignatius merely turned the emphasis of this life around, moving from revealing himself to the greater revelation of God.

It is said in some circles that a woman’s hair is her glory. This means that the color and style of her hair is a revelation of her person and personality. For those persons and cultures inspired by the Ignatian Way, all actions are taken, after consideration, to display, make attractive, and promote the person, personality, and love of God.

The word “consider” means literally to be “with the stars.” The word “decide” then means literally to “Come down from the stars.” In Ignatian terminology, discernment means to sense inside our souls, what spirits are moving us to do this or that action? Certain actions might be chosen from a spirit of revealing our own egocentric desires. A spirit of fear, greed, guilt, or inferiority can operate without a person’s knowing or sensing the real “why” for the choice.

Discernment does not mean going up to the stars and away from what is real. It is not a definite conclusion ending in a factually clear decision upon coming back from the stars. Discernment is both a process and yet a way of living with a closer contact to the spirits within us. It is a sense of just how we learn to sense the Spirit of God working within us and then through our actions. Ignatian discernment, as a way of life, increases within us how attractable and easily seduced we are by our rationalizing and how attractive are the voices and invitations of darkness and disorder.

Ignatian discernment relies on a belief in a loving God, Whose will is that we use our God-given faculties of intellect, memory, and imagination to trust the love of this laboring God. We would so love that our God would tell us directly and clearly what to do, but that would not be to trust this God. God comes just close enough to help us be human, but not so close as to force our decisions and actions. He gave us our freedom, and in his love reverences that gift in us. Discernment is a way of living, looking around, not only at the stars, but inside and sensing what it feels like to be in union with God, ourselves and our world, right here on earth.

We do say, “That’s a bright idea,” or “I am in the dark about that.” Ignatius found himself at various times having interior feelings and senses that his spirit was lighter and his outlook brighter. He referred to this spiritual state as “consolation,” literally, “with the sun, con sol.” When we are out in the sunshine, we can see things more clearly and ourselves as well. We are warmer and closer to our surroundings. We are less fearful and our eyes and spirits look upward.

Being in the dark or not in the sunshine, “desolation, de sol” means just that, fearful, unaware of what is around and we tend to look at our feet and the ground.

Consolation is more than just feeling good. It is a sense of being in union with life and the God of life. It is a loving desire to embrace life’s mysteries less fearfully. It is not a sense of relief that comes from making a decision, but does lead to making decisions that involve adventure and trusting without the accompanying terror and doubt.

Desolation is not depression. It is a sense of disappointment that comes from the experiences of trying to make earth and the things of earth into life-sustaining, life-giving meaning. It results in a sense that darkness and a belief that hiding is better than trusting and reaching out.

The Spiritual Exercises
Ignatius wrestled with these various influences of spirits. He came up with a set of rules concerning our dealings with good as well as bad spirits. He wrote about his learning the tricks of the “Evil One,” whom he names the “enemy of our human nature.” Basically the bad spirits do not want us to do anything good, such as trusting God, trusting our gifts, trusting our futures, but rather diminishing our sense and appreciation of ourselves.

The Rules of Discernment inform us how to become familiar with the footsteps of the quiet God as well as the noisy clomping of the Enemy. Ignatius wrote that the harangue of the Evil One is like water falling on a rock and the invitation of Grace is like water falling on a sponge. These experiences of Ignatius are contained within the little book known as the Spiritual Exercises. He had spent several years reflecting on his life and how the various calls to him about his life, faith, and self-concept, were leading him. He wrote these Exercises to remember what he had experienced and was experiencing as he continued his life of conversion. He compiled these Rules along with various other thoughts, reflections and forms of prayer into the little book of the Exercises.

Just as running, swimming, or lifting weights are physical exercises enabling the body to perform more freely other bodily activities, so Ignatius wrote that doing these exercises of the spirit would enable a person more freely to do activities of responding to God’s ways and the needs of others. This particular exercise of the spirit centers a person’s heart on knowing and resisting the enticements to chaos, and instead attracts the mind and heart to respond to the call of God to harmony and order by following the personality and person of Jesus.

Magis and Cura Personalis
These are two big ideas and concepts. “Magis” means “more” and the second phrase means “personal care for the individual.” They do go together. The “more” here does not mean higher production or achievements. It means honesty, acceptance, and gratitude for the gifts given to each person by the Giver Whose RSVP is stamped on each gift, including each person. One cannot give what one does not have. The view of Ignatius is that everything and every person is a tremendous gift.

 A bird or tree is such a gift, but they lack the awareness of their giftedness. We humans do have the gifts and we can grow “more” in that awareness, acceptance, and donation. This is the “magis” project then, to become more aware, more accepting, and only then, more generous, more persons of relational and revelational awareness.

The care of the person begins with this process. We care for the gift each of us is and then begin caring for the persons within our lives. Care for the person is a spirit which moves a person to assist God in the continuous creation of the other. Ignatius believed that God labors for our freedom by bringing us more and more to the awareness that we humans are loved beyond merely being born. We are tended to by God through persons who care. Jesus invited us to “love one another.” This loving takes many forms. Caring for the person means that our love for God extends to our loving the divine goodness in the other God-loved person. Caring means we want all the goodness of God to be cared for by the persons who possess it. We care for others, not because they are our friends, nor that we can use them for our selfish purposes, but because they are sisters and brothers of Jesus.

 All these Ignatian-speak terms are Creighton-lingo as well. As a Jesuit mission, your university invites you to learn our language and try to make concepts come alive. Mere words are cheap, but your living the lingo will assist your realizing what is attractive about Creighton and why you have come to be a part of us.

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