Grace: To gain a clearer understanding of the personal relationship that God created me to have with Him.
Text for Prayer: Gen. 1-2
“Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.”
-St. Ignatius Loyola, Spiritual Exercises no. 23
St. Ignatius does not begin the Spiritual Exercises by talking about God. Instead, he begins by talking about the relationship we are meant to have with God. What is presented is meant to be considered, prayed over, and “savored interiorly” (cf. SpEx 2) in order to help us deepen our relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. Our ongoing relationship with God is always the key in every reflection given and every prayer made.
It is also important to note that St. Ignatius does not say that “man was created”, but that “man is created”. Present tense. God’s creation of us is not some obscure act in the far-distant past. Fr. Joe Tetlow, S.J. uses a great image to describe God’s ongoing creation: that of a light bulb. The electricity must always be present right there in the bulb. The instant that the electricity is taken out of the picture, the light is gone. Similarly, God is always present with us, giving us life and being, even during the worst things we do.
God is not just always with us in the way that an interested spectator is with a beloved sports team. Our God and Father is with us as a parent is with a child. Sometimes this involves doing things for the child, and at others it involves letting the child stand and walk on its own two feet—with all the scrapes and falls this involves. But our Creator and Father is always shaping us and helping us grow.
In the First Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius lays out the reason that we are created, and he realized that our purpose in life could not be understood without reference to the Creator of life. So why does God create us? Meister Eckhart says that “God enjoys Himself, and wants us to join Him.” In Genesis 1, as God is creating, establishing order in the chaotic waters, and decorating the order with all sorts of things and creatures, He declares each thing to be good. But it isn’t until God creates human beings, a creature in His image and likeness who can share in the joy of the Trinity, that God declares creation to be “very good”.
Genesis also tells us that God was accustomed to walking in the Garden of Eden “at the breezy time of day”, after the midday heat had died down, and everything was cool and pleasant; and that He was also accustomed to walking with Adam and Eve. This is what we are made for: to enjoy God’s company and friendship as we walk through the Garden with Him.
While we are no longer in Eden, we do have a means of returning: “to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord”. By means of these three things: the praise, reverence, and service of God our Lord, we will save our souls, which is to say that we will finally and fully have the relationship with God we were meant to, and walk with God through Eden in the breezy time of day.
Questions: What is the relationship you have with God now? How does it play out in the day-to-day activity of your life? What is the relationship you would like to have with God? Talk to the Father or Jesus about this.