A central meditation in St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises is that of the Two Standards, wherein retreatants are to think about two armies on a battlefield, every holding a flag (a “standard”), able to cost into battle. On one aspect is the military of Christ; on the different, the military of the satan. It is an imaginative scene which may evoke in some individuals photos from their favourite conflict epic. “Surely I would serve in the army of the great King, our Lord, Jesus Christ!” a youthful romantic (like Ignatius himself) may utter.
But generally I ponder what the older Ignatius may need stated in giving the Exercises, as he remembered his personal misguided cost into battle, which resulted in a debilitating leg damage that him the remainder of his life. Is this martial picture what he would wish to emphasize? Or reasonably, would it not be a chance to train a brand new sort of creativeness, one which invitations retreatants to call our temptations?
What do the two requirements say to us? Perhaps one says “selfishness,” and the different says “selflessness.” Or maybe “prestige” and “humility.” Or “power” and “charity.” What are the precise temptations I face in my life right this moment, which could lead me away from the service of religion and the promotion of a simply world?
I think about Ignatius himself gently guiding a retreatant towards photos that look much less like battle and extra like ethical and non secular problem. Do I select to behave in methods which profit me first? Do I mimic the fashions of the world round me, looking for to construct my very own social capital in the course of? Or do I maintain a laser focus on the good that the Lord is doing in the world, asking just for the grace to be part of it?
I recall the work of Dean Brackley, SJ, who wrote about the Two Standards by suggesting a distinction between “upward mobility” and, as he known as it, “downward mobility.” Do I’ve the braveness to belief that Christ may lead me towards service of the poor and outcast, even at the price of social or skilled recognition? Do I’ve the religion that Christ is doing a terrific factor in me, even when nobody (even I) can acknowledge it?
Photo by Artur Roman by way of Pexels.