|Waiting for the new pope in St. Peter's Square. |
All photos from Flicker/Catholic Church (England and Wales)
On the day after his election, the pope retrieved his luggage at the hostel that he had checked into as a cardinal. This gave us an image of an ordinary man in pontifical garb going about ordinary tasks.
The Ignatian approach to good choices rests on several presuppositions. First it assumes that the alternatives being considered are all positive, constructive, and morally correct. The person making the decision is someone who is spiritually maturing and who wants to make the choice that will lead to a deeper relationship with God.
The Ignatian approach to good choices emphasizes freedom. Making a free decision means that we set aside our own preferences and preconceptions and strive to be free of social pressures and psychological strains. We carefully examine our motives and desires. This isn’t easy. Much of the prayer and reflection in Ignatian decision making has to do with achieving the detachment necessary to choose freely.
The Ignatian approach requires work. It asks that we make every reasonable effort to find God’s will. This involves a sincere commitment to pray and to achieve self-knowledge. We need to gather all the relevant information about our alternatives and carefully weigh all the circumstances and likely outcomes. Decision making in the Ignatian mode involves both the heart and the mind.
|St. Ignatius of Loyola|
The Spiritual Exercises grew out of Ignatius Loyola’s personal experience as a man seeking to grow in union with God and to discern God’s will. He kept a journal as he gained spiritual insight and deepened his spiritual experience. He added to these notes as he directed other people and discovered what “worked.” Eventually Ignatius gathered these prayers, meditations, reflections, and directions into a carefully designed framework of a retreat, which he called “spiritual exercises.”
Ignatius wrote that the Exercises: “have as their purpose the conquest of self and the regulation of one’s life in such a way that no decision is made under the influence of any inordinate attachment.”
In doing so—with our hearts finding rest in God and not in worldly gluttony—we can (at the very least) consume less of the planet's resources.
It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek [. . .] The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution – when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.
Now, by the grace of God, comes Pope Francis to teach his universal flock about a meekness rooted in a spiritual growth that must become incarnate in our very troubled, polluted world.
This Gospel [from Matthew 16] continues with a special situation. The same Peter who confessed Jesus Christ, says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. This has nothing to do with it.” He says, “I’ll follow you on other ways, that do not include the Cross.” When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord.
I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage—the courage—to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward.
For us today, we—the Body of Christ—find ourselves in a special time within the ongoing journey of the Church. And certainly, these days, months, and years will bring special demands on the faithful. They will bring many crosses and many opportunities to share and live the gospel.