“Do not let your passions be your guide, but keep your desires in check” Sirach 18:30
During this summer of ordinary time with the school year over, I have been able to do a little more reading. One of the people I've been reading about is Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Saint Ignatius led a fascinating life as a soldier, but life circumstances and events eventually led him to lay down his sword and make a life-long vow to serve God. His commitment to God and this new life resulted in the creation of the Jesuit order. The Jesuit motto is “for the greater glory of God, ” and a fundamental tenet of the Jesuits is to find God in all things. St. Ignatius wrote the Spiritual Exercises which is considered one of the greatest works of Christian instruction on prayer and holiness.
St. Ignatius practiced a five step daily examen, which in very simplified terms leads us to
1. Become aware of God's presence
2. Express gratitude
3. Review your day
4. Repent, express sorrow and ask forgiveness for times when you failed to follow God
5. Resolve to cooperate with God's guidance
This examen of conscience is an essential daily practice to help us maintain our closeness to God; we admit to our shortcomings and remain humble. The world and all of the evil that swirls around us would love nothing more than for us to focus on earthly pleasures, to indulge our whims, to justify our poor choices and lifestyles and demand the world respect them. Evil would like nothing more than for us to lose sight of God's eternal plans for us.
Sadly, the more we engage in these worldly passions, the further we get from God and we lose sight of this truth; these moments of indulgence and our time here on Earth are but a tiny grain of sand in the perspective of eternity. God wants us to live humbly. He gave us an example when he sent his only son to become one of us. God wants more than anything to have a relationship with each of us. He wants us to maintain our focus on Him daily, as He knows everything that we think and do before we do it. He wants us to seek His guidance in all things and to ask forgiveness for our transgressions.
As Doctor Scott Hahn stated so well, "God wants us to come to the wedding banquet of heaven by way of humility and charity, just as Christ did."
Perhaps today as we draw nearer to the feast day of St Ignatius, we can follow his example by beginning or re-committing to a daily examen and in so doing maintain our focus on God, seek forgiveness for our sins, ask for His daily direction and like the Jesuits, find God in all things.