Monday, July 27, 2009
Letters from Maryland on Ignatian Spirituality
Letter continued from yesterday:
"The word indifferent has caused a lot of misunderstanding and struggle. In my copy of John English’s book Spiritual Freedom given to me after my first retreat I have a big “NO!” notation in the margin next to the passage on indifference. To clarify and save future book margins, indifference does not mean not feeling or not caring. It means more “at balance”, ready to go in whatever direction seems to serve God best.
Ignatius gave wise advice for decision making. He differentiated between types of choices and gave different rules for those going from good to better and those going from good to worse. In one type of choice we know what is right without any doubts about what God wants. In another situation the preferred choice is not clear. We are attracted to different possibilities. This is where the inner movements of consolation and desolation come into play. In consolation the person experiences the love of God as an increase in faith, hope, or love. Desolation is the opposite. It leads to the lack of peace, darkness, agitation or temptations. This is a time not to make new decisions or change previous ones.
Ignatius also instructed the person faced with a decision to list the pros and cons and ask themselves what they would advise a friend in the same situation. Then make a decision, offer it to God and pray for the peace of consolation.
For people intent on living God’s desires for them, Ignatius compares the actions of the evil spirit to water falling on stone, that is, noisy, hard and disruptive. The action of the good spirit is like water falling on a sponge, quiet, gentle and nourishing.