Today, July 31, Anglicans and Roman Catholics celebrate the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits. Ignatius was a Basque who had his own approach to the issues which precipitated the Reformation. He himself was brought before the Inquisition. His spirituality was strongly apostolic, bringing the insights of monasticism further out into the world – contemplative even while active. Today I want to highlight his clarity in distinguishing means and the end – so often confused.
Principle and Foundation from the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius
You are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save your soul.
And the other things on the face of the earth are created for you and that they may help you as means to the end for which you are created.
From this it follows that you are to use them as much as they help you on to your end, and ought to rid yourself of them so far as they hinder you as to it.
For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.
We are made for God. Church, prayer, liturgy, all else – are means to that end. We so often turn that around, making peace, or money, or whatever our goal – and God the means.
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