Grace: To love and serve God with an undivided heart, and to value all created things inasmuch as they lead me to God.
Text for Prayer: Romans 1:20
Reflection: God does not do anything by accident; “coincidence” is not in His vocabulary.
“Yet just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but shall do what pleases me, achieving the end for which I sent it.” (Is. 55:10)
Each one of us and all created things, living and non-living, have been purposefully formed according to God’s plan.
St. Ignatius is calling each one of us to praise, reverence and serve God our Lord not solely in a vertical experience of personal prayer but in the midst of our world and in the presence of all of creation. The people we interact with on a daily basis, the buildings and streets we pass, the conversations and topics we engage in, and even the technology we constantly use are all avenues to become aware of the Trinity closely accompanying us. This felt-awareness permits us to respond with generosity, modeled in particular ways of praising, reverencing and serving the Trinity.
Everyone and everything that we encounter is a new and God-given opportunity to live this three-fold purpose. God deems all that He has created to be good (cf. Gen. 1). Therefore, our natural world can aid us in fulfilling what God has designed us for. Even seemingly secular concepts such as sports, the media and entertainment, and yes—even blogs—can also aid us in our three-fold purpose.
But the caveat is all of these things that were just said to be able to aid us in our relationship with God can also be obstacles to fulfilling our purpose. Ignatius calls us to pray for the grace of indifference so that we may not fall into this trap. On first glance, it would seem contradictory to engage the wonderment of God’s creation and the goodness present in our world if we are devoid of feelings and passion. While a common mistake, this is not what Ignatius is suggesting. Rather, he is calling us to passionately love God such that nothing – person, place or thing – could ever get in the way of this relationship. Only with this disposition can our attitude towards the things of this world be modeled by a true spirit of indifference: loving all things not for themselves but loving God first and foremost in relation to these things. As Ignatius wrote in a letter in 1553, “For all goodness sought in [God’s] creatures is present with much greater perfection in Him who created them” (Monumenta Ignatiana, 5, p. 488). This permits us to have a rightly-ordered love for both God and created beings.
All of creation and what we encounter in this world are not ends in themselves but a means, for God is our one, true and only end. Hence, these things should be valued inasmuch as they lead us to God, and disavowed inasmuch as they lead us astray. Ignatius proposes that we love God in all created things by stripping ourselves of all love for created things (cf. Constitutions of the Society of Jesus). Again, Ignatius promotes this not because creation is bad and sinful but because it cannot take the rightful priority of God’s place in our lives.
The disposition of indifference is complementary to one of the aims of the Lenten Season – seeking to grow closer to God and discerning and removing any obstacles to this growth. Freedom from these obstacles permits a greater freedom for the service of both God and neighbor.
We are called to give God our full and undivided attention by offering to Him a whole and undivided heart; to love God with our whole heart, our whole being and our whole strength (cf. Deut. 6:5). In seeking this grace, it would be helpful to grow in the awareness that God gives each one of us His full, complete and undivided attention. There is nothing that stands in the way of God’s love for us. His joy and delight for each one of us is abundant.
As we reflect on the aim of created beings, let us permit our hearts to overflow in melodious fashion and join the choir of creation in praising, reverencing and serving our God and King.
Questions: When have creation and the things of this world aided me in praising, reverencing and serving God? When have they been an obstacle to this three-fold pursuit? How am I growing in the awareness that God is presently giving me His full, complete and undivided attention, and is inviting me to respond to His generosity?