Ignatius often ended his letters to Jesuits going to the missions with the expression ite, inflammate omnia—“go, set the world on fire.” What did he mean by that? Maybe it was just a rah-rah expression, the kind of thing a football coach says when he tells the team to go out on the field and “kick butt.” But I don’t think so. I don’t think Ignatius had a cheerleader’s personality. He was a serious man who used words carefully.
“Set the world on fire” is a curious expression. Fire destroys; the world is already on fire with hatred, resentment, greed, lust, and other passions that consume individuals and whole societies. But fire purifies too; in the Bible, flames burn up the weeds and the refiner’s fire purifies gold. Then there are the tongues of fire that that descend on the apostles at Pentecost, bringing the power of the Holy Spirit. I think this image might have been in Ignatius’s mind when he told his Jesuits to set the world on fire. He wanted everyone to be set afire with passion and zeal for the Kingdom of God.
By Jim Manney on dotMagis, the blog of IgnatianSpirituality.com
WEEK OF 13 JULY
There is a marvelous bonus waiting for those who entrust themselves to God in intimate prayer. Just as you bring all your everyday concerns to God in prayer, and talk to him about how you really feel (which may well include expressing your anger and frustration with him from time to time), so, steadily, he will open up more and more of himself to you—or rather, he will increasingly open up your own inner vision, to notice him in everything around you and to recognize his presence in every moment.
I personally have become convinced that there is nothing on earth that doesn’t reveal some fragment of the reality of its maker, nor any moment that I live that doesn’t hold God concealed within it. Sometimes this is obvious, as in a beautiful sunset. Sometimes it remains hidden. The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins calls it the “inscape” of things—that inner mysterious reality that we might even call their Who center, where God himself is indwelling. People have their inscapes too, and to be in an intimate relationship with someone is to be in touch with their inscape and allow them to be in touch with yours.
—Excerpted from Inner Compassby Margaret Silf
WEEK OF 20 JULY
In the Gospels we hear about Jesus and his disciples retreating every so often to pray. Their ministry didn’t seem to allow much time for it, but if they hadn’t stopped every so often they might have become mindless in their activity. This is the first step in being a contemplative in action: stopping.
Stopping gives you a chance to pause and acknowledge what you’ve been doing, whether in your work or personal life. It not only offers needed rest but also helps you move into the next stage: reflection.
Jesus and the apostles spoke to each other about all they did, they prayed and pondered, and examined their feelings and experiences. Reflecting on our daily experiences and our major ones helps us delve into their deeper meaning. …
Next the disciples went back to their busy work, as we must do. The key here is letting your reflection and prayer time inform how you approach your work when you return to it. Perhaps you discover the need for more rest time or that you need to focus more on a particular relationship. Or maybe you find that the activity you’ve been up to has become dissatisfying. Or perhaps you discover a desire to reinvigorate your job.
Contemplation allows us to renew our active lives (work, play, relationships) so that all we do does not become mindless action but rather glorifies God. Then the cycle repeats. Your activity leads you again into a time of stopping, resting, reflecting, and then returning to activity with greater zeal and purpose.
By Andy Otto on dotMagis, the blog of IgnatianSpirituality.com
WEEK OF 27 JULY
Ignatius thought that a particular type of ignorance was at the root of sin. The deadliest sin, he said, is ingratitude. It is “the cause, beginning, and origin of all evils and sins.” If you asked a hundred people to name the sin that’s the origin of all evils, I’ll bet none of them would say ingratitude. They would say pride or disobedience or greed or anger. The idea that we sin because we’re not sufficiently aware of God’s goodness probably wouldn’t occur to too many people.
Gratitude meant something different in Ignatius’s time from what it does today. Gratitude to us means sending thank-you notes for Christmas presents or thanking neighbors when they give us a hand. For us, ingratitude is something like bad manners. Gratitude was a much more serious matter in Ignatius’s late-medieval society, which was organized around a set of mutual obligations among those in social and political hierarchies. Everyone needed to be aware of the contributions of everyone else. Gratitude was the glue that bound people together. But cultural differences are only part of the story. By emphasizing gratitude, Ignatius was saying something about the nature of God. God is the generous giver, showering us with blessings like the sun shining on the earth. If we truly understood this, we would return God’s love with love. We wouldn’t sin. Gratitude is a good word for this fundamental quality of our relationship with God. Ingratitude, our blindness to who God truly is, is thus the root of all sin.
—Excerpted from God Finds Us by Jim Manney