April 4, 2011 |

Grace: Knowledge of the tricks of the evil spirit so that we can resist them, knowledge of the life exemplified by Christ so that we can imitate Him.

Text: Spiritual Exercises 136-147

Reflection: Today Ignatius  presents the meditation on the Two Standards, the standard of Satan and the standard of Christ.  We are more likely to oppose the evil spirit and to follow the good spirit if we understand the ruses of the devil and the true path to holiness.

Imagine the army camp of Satan—the ugly sights and the revolting smells and the terrifying sounds—as he sends his minions throughout the world to corrupt people and turn them from their happiness in God.  Ponder how he lays traps for people to enslave them, by tempting them to covet riches and despise poverty.  This greed then leads to a desire for the honors the world.  This hunger for honors then leads to a pride that finds no room for God.  After enslaving the soul to covetousness, vanity and pride, the evil one leads the soul to all other vices.

Now imagine the camp of Christ—the simplicity of the camp and the attractive appearance of Christ and the beauty of his words—as he sends out his disciples to spread the Good News to all people.  He recommends to His followers that they seek spiritual poverty, and perhaps even material poverty. He then encourages them to seek the will of the Lord alone, even if this means being insulted and hated.  No longer living to please the world, they will come to true humility, from which flow all other virtues.

And so we oppose the trap of covetousness by embracing spiritual and perhaps material poverty, the trap of a hunger for honors by embracing a willingness to be insulted and hated by the world, and the trap of pride by embracing humility. Humility makes our relationship with Christ flourish, since it reminds us that everything we need will be given through Him.

To be poor, to be insulted and to be humble are not things we generally run after.  But Christ experienced all three when He came among us.  He wants to give them to us and He wants us to ask for them. And though we may not learn to love them overnight, we can ask the Lord every day to be drawn into a closer imitation of the life He lived to save us.

Questions: Am I tempted to covet riches, and do I hear the call to a poverty of spirit?

Am I tempted to desire to be honored by the world, and do I hear a call to live to please God alone?

Am I tempted to pride, and do I hear a call to humility?

April 4th, 2011 | |