Daily Devotion 14 October 2020
Philippians 4: 8-9 ‘Paul’s Postscript of Encouragement’
8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuits in 1540, was not initially a religious person. In fact in his earlier days Íñigo was a very worldly man, and something of a dandy. He joined the army at 18 and according to one biographer, he strutted about “with his cape slinging open to reveal his tight-fitting hose and boots; a sword and dagger at his waist”. He was also an expert dancer, a keen womanizer and took to his sword if insulted.
However he was diplomatic and had leadership qualities, which meant that he did well in the army. Then disaster! At the age of 30, during battle a cannonball rebounded off a nearby wall and shattered his right leg. After several surgeries that left his leg shorter than the other, his military career was over.
While he recovered at his father’s castle in Loyola, he couldn’t get hold of the ‘romances of chivalry’ he loved to read and so instead his sister-in-law, gave him a series of religious texts on the life of Jesus and on the lives of the saints. To start with, Íñigo was still day-dreaming about what he would do in honour of the royal lady he was in love with, and in service to his king. But then he began to dream of imitating the saints he read about. He gradually came to realize that when the dream of romantic heroism was over he felt dissatisfaction whereas the saintly dream ended with much joy and peace. Íñigo underwent a spiritual conversion and experienced a call to religious life.
Over time Ignatius, as he became known, developed his treatise called the Spiritual Exercises – prayers and meditations to help people deepen their relationship with God. They were first published in 1548 and over the past fifty years there has been a resurgence in their use by people of many denominations seeking to grow closer to God. I myself did a training course in Ignatian Spirituality some twenty years ago and gained an enormous amount from it.
St. Paul knew the importance of fixing our minds and hearts on the right things. He emphasises in the verses above what Ignatius found out from his own experience, that if we stay close to God seeking to serve him and concentrating on the good things he gives us, we will live with much joy and peace.
Heavenly Father, keep us we pray from anxious thoughts, at this time when there is so much that might trouble us. Help us to think only about all that is commendable and good and to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on Jesus.
May we make a conscious choice to dwell on those things that are worthy of praise, knowing that the light of Christ and the darkness of all that is evil cannot abide together. This we ask in Jesus name. Amen.
Reflection & Prayer © 2020 Ann Caffyn.
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