Sunday, November 23, 2014

Back to business: Sixth Rule

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming: reviewing the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius (which I started in a moment of desolation when I realized I was forgetting what I knew and giving in to my pity party):

Sixth Rule. The sixth: Although in desolation we ought not to change our first resolutions, it is very helpful intensely to change ourselves against the same desolation, as by insisting more on prayer, meditation, on much examination, and by giving ourselves more scope in some suitable way of doing penance.

When I first learned about St. Ignatius' rules I was going through a very confusing time in my life.  Practically speaking this rule was more helpful than the rest: it gave me something to do while discerning what in the world I was feeling, what God was asking of me and where, in the myriad of possibilities, God was directing me to go.  In moments of tumult, it became very clear that as long as I was saying my rosary, getting to Mass, confession and making the effort to put others first in my daily life (that was the year I adopted a local needy family for Christmas, sent money to the missions to pay for a seminarian in India, organized Christmas caroling at church and offered to babysit for all my friends and family...I needed to keep doing things that were within my scope when I felt like doing nothing but waiting in loneliness for God to "fix" my dilemma).

I'm sure I've mentioned this before but in the midst of desolation, when you feel God doesn't hear your prayer and you have no desire to sludge through the work of meditating because your heart just doesn't lift up to him or feel his love in return, your barometer is the sacraments.  When you don't know if you're okay, because you feel so far from God, you can know you're okay when you stay close to the Church.  My pastor told this to me once and it has brought me comfort so many times!

And this rule is also good to remind ourselves that desolation does not last forever.  I think sometimes just practicing this rule can bring us out of it...not always...but sometimes.  

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