Lord, give me the wisdom to see. No good life comes without right discipline. Give me the grace to impose it upon myself lest others do it for me. Help me to discipline my tongue, That I may be clear rather than clever, sincere instead of sarcastic. Help me to discipline my thinking and actions, to do what is right and not what is easy. Let me get on with the job on hand doing the best I can and leaving the rest to You Amen
“Do not let your passions be your guide, but keep your desires in check.” Sirach 18:30
Every July, I participate online in the "31 Days with St. Ignatius"at the Jesuit website Ignatian Spirituality. The community invites their followers to "get their Iggy" on by way of the Spiritual Exercises which their founder St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote. As we look at the fruit of the Spirit-self-control it reminds me of two practices taught in the exercises that we can engage in that opens us to the Holy Spirit (who by the way is the giver of the fruits).These two practices are 'surrender and awareness, which more importantly help us to grow in self-control.
First up is "surrender" I know, I know easier said than done. It's not easy to give up our will, self motivation, self-driven life or even our views. We are all in need of discipline over our impulses, emotions or desires, yet take courage in discovering surrender happens in stages, that is why we use the term "Letting go". The even better news is our loving Abba Father isn't put off by our shortcomings or failures in this department that is why he send us Christ Jesus to give example of what self control looks like.
Let me give you an example; Think about it-Jesus waited three days and not going to Lazarus before he died. Emotion did not dictate his actions (see John 11).
Now let me introduce where the other practice of awareness is part of the plan. Awareness is when we become attuned to God in all things and as we learn to practice awareness of God's presence, our trust deepens. Jesus' trust and sense of oneness with the Father, was so great that his desire was for his followers to have the same intimate relationship.(John 10:30 "I and the Father are one') Awareness of the Father's love brings hope and deepens our faith. God's Spirit helps us control our thoughts and actions which leads to the fruit of the Spirit growing in our lives. Our part is to submit to God;s work within us.
So let me leave you with how St. Ignatius proposed we practice surrender and awareness; It's a daily exercise called "The Examen of Consciousness" and it is a simple way of growing in awareness and trust of God. When we can surrender more easily to him we can grow in self-control. Rather than focusing on what went right or wrong throughout the day this exercise will encourage you to reflect on moments in the day when you were present to his presence and those times you were forgetful or distracted. I invite you to practice this for the next few days or even the week.
Find a place where you can be silent
Center yourself in silence. Breathe slowly listening to the rythmn of your heart beat. Now recall the day with an open heart. (do not judge it or the events as either good or bad) Notice the emotions, sensations and thoughts that arise as you review the day. Let your attention settle on one of these, now look for God's presence within it, whether you were aware at the time or not. Pray from this memory and within the present moment. Release the day with gratitude and rest in God;s grace, it's his work within us.
To Jesus through Mary-Susan Sabahi