For the Journey

It is very good for us to remember the purpose for our going through this retreat. We are at the halfway point, and we might have lost sight of just where these various considerations and prayers are leading us.
Ignatius knows well the unfreedoms of the human condition. We have regrets, fears, resentments, ego needs, physical drives, and personal histories, all of which naturally pull us toward satisfying and protecting ourselves. Our personal wills fashion a lifestyle in which all the previously mentioned forces combine and play out in our choices of life.

The central aim of the retreat is to seek for the will of God and then desire to live God’s will in our lives. Two difficulties arise in this area. We must face the strength and varying influences of our own wills and then extract ourselves from doing what we want and try to do what we hear God inviting us to do. Let me say this very simply: this doing of God’s will is not easy!

Ignatius uses the natural attraction that we all have to possessions as an example of how difficult it is to let go, not just of material things themselves but also of our attraction and desires for it. The pulls on our lives of power, security, and independence are similar to the pull of gravity here on the earth. We learn to adjust to it so we don’t jump from high places or expect to bounce when we fall. It all becomes quite natural to us, and we hardly ever refer to or reflect on its pulls on us.

Ignatius presents us in the Exercises with an invitation to live more aware of the gravitational pulls on our spirits and the choices that flow from within. The planet called Christ has different gravitational demands. They take getting used to and, as with the earthly forces when we are growing up, we can trip and fall trying to live these new laws of life.

We have been praying with the events of Christ’s early life, and we will return to consider his public life, but Ignatius has us pause this week to ponder honestly how difficult it is to leave the natural laws of personal gravity and what it would cost to try to live more in keeping with the freedoms that Jesus offers. It is important to pray with the awareness of how of this earth we are. His call is gentle and patient but also insistent. We think we know what is good for us, and yet he offers us a second opinion as one who loves us more than we love ourselves, if we can imagine that.

This week we resist negativity about how of this earth’s ways we are. We pray in hope that by his grace, little by little, we can be so attracted by Jesus and his ways that, though we can possess this or that, we become freed from anything possessing us.

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