Sunday, February 05, 2006

St. Ignatius' Autobiography, Part 9: Indifference

Thus, as the pilgrim mounted his mule, another of his brothers wished to accompany him as far as Onate. Him he persuaded on the way to make a vigil in the chapel of our Lady of Aranzazu. During the night he prayed here for fresh strength on his journey. He left his brother in Onate at the home of a sister whom he was going to visit, while he himself went on to Navarette. He thought it would be good to collect a few ducats which were owed him in the house of the Duke, and so wrote a note to the treasurer. The treasurer answered that he had no money on hand, but when the Duke heard of it, he said that he might lack for everything else, but not for Loyola. The Duke wished to place him in charge of one of his properties, should he wish to accept it, in recognition of the reputation he had earned in the past. He got his money and left word for it to be distributed to certain persons to whom he felt some obligation, and applied part of it to a statue of our Lady which was poorly attired and which he wanted to see very well set up and adorned. Then, taking leave of the two servants who had accompanied him, he mounted his mule and left Navarette for Montserrat.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells the rich young man that in order to gain eternal life, “sell all you have, give the money to the poor, and then, come, follow me.” We see evidence here that Ignatius is taking those words to heart. He has not gone to see the Duke so that he can resume his previous life in search of honors, wealth and a noble lady. He is getting money that he was owed, but only so that he can use it to settle accounts with others, and use the rest for the renovation of a statue of the Blessed Mother. The Duke’s offer to place him in charge of one of his properties is merely noted. The fact that he doesn’t speak of it further speaks volumes of the indifference he feels toward such temptations at this point in his spiritual journey. This offer, based on “the reputation he had earned in the past” is no doubt exactly the type of offer that the soldier Loyola returning from Pamplona would have jumped at; but he, literally, at least in terms of this narrative, doesn’t give it a second thought. In “The First Principle and Foundation,” of The Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius suggests that we must make ourselves “indifferent” to all created things, using them only insofar as they help us to achieve the purpose for which we are created, “to praise, reverence and serve God, and by this means to save [our] soul[s].” As Ignatius takes leave of money, honor, and two servants, we see the beginnings of this seminal insight.


Blogger Lisa said...

Mark, I've been following these excerpts and reflections on the Spiritual Exercises. I haven't had much chance to write but want to say how much I am enjoying and benefitting from them. Thank you!

8:04 PM  

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