Bits of Ignatian Wisdom: Getting Our Hearts in the Right Place

Last week, we talked about how the Spiritual  Exercises open with us reflecting on God’s unconditional and creative love for us.  This week, let’s turn to the other main focus in the early part of the Spiritual Exercises – getting our hearts in the right place. In Ignatian language, this next part of Ignatian wisdom focuses on ridding ourselves of disordered attachments and seeking spiritual freedom by placing God firmly at the center of our lives.

Bit of Ignatian Wisdom #3: Spiritual Freedom & Disordered Attachments 

St. Ignatius’ First Principle and Foundation is a meditation offered to those making the Exercises.  However, I believe the First Principle and Foundation has something to offer each of us on the spiritual journey, whether we’ve made the Spiritual Exercises or not.  Let’s take a look at David Fleming’s version of the First Principle and Foundation now:

The goal of our life is to live with God forever.
God who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit.

All the things in this world are gifts from God,
presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.

As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God
insofar as they help us develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice
and are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
a deeper response to our life in God.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better
leads to the deepening of God’s life in me.

What does this mean?

The concept of this meditation is beautiful, but honestly, it is very challenging.  The First Principle and Foundation invites us to orient our lives around the Giver of the gifts, God, and not the gifts of our lives.   It invites us to detach from things that inhibit us from placing God as the center of our lives.  Spiritual freedom comes when we place God as the hub through which the rest of life flows.  The Spiritual Exercises are ultimately about getting our hearts in the right place.

Time and time again, when I made the Spiritual Exercises, I heard these words well up in me, “Re-situate your life”.  As I prayed the Spiritual Exercises, they transformed my heart and helped me “re-situate my life” around God.  It’s definitely an ongoing transformation, though!  Ridding ourselves of disordered attachments is a life-long journey as new gifts show up or as we cling to the familiar when God is in the middle of birthing something new.

The transformation and re-situating our lives around God are not always easy to do.  However, once our hearts are in the right place, situated fully around God, we are spiritually free.  When we are spiritually free, we can better hear God’s call for us.

Go Deeper? 

  • Scripture:
    • Psalm 62//In God alone is my soul at rest
    • Phil 4:4-9//Then the God of peace will be with you
  • Reflection Series: At the beginning of the year, I offered a series called “Making Room for God in the New Year”.  It offered five weekly reflections and exercises based on the this idea of putting God as the center of our lives.

Cultivating Space for God Together: 

Are interested in becoming an Ignatian trained Spiritual Director?

  • New Orleans & Baton Rouge Area: There will be a meeting on September 6th at 10am and 7pm at the Diocese of Baton Rouge in the Westerfield Conference Center for the Archdiocese of New Orleans Internship in Spiritual Direction.  To register, call Doris Melito at 504-861-2354 or register here!
  • Other Areas of the United States:
    • Some Jesuit Retreat Houses offer Spiritual Direction Programs.  Check out the list of retreat houses here to learn more.
    • Jesuit Universities also sometimes offer Spiritual Direction programs.  Check out the list here.
  • Resources:  Do you know of another Ignatian training program not mentioned?  Please email me so I can curate a list of resources for others when they request how to become one!

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