Friday, November 6, 2009

An Aid To Cultivation & Fertilization

I have always been fascinated by the human mind. I actually read many books on psychology as early as 10 years old. What are the factors that move an individual in one direction to choose a vocation or profession and move another to a different choice? What contributes to the characteristics of altruism, a drive for success, an interest in one endeavor but no interest in others? I thought that would make an interesting career and got as far as a 3 credit hours from a Masters Degree. I took a different path and am happy I did. That however has not quelled by desire to understand people. That is why I think Ignatian Spirituality is fascinating. St. Ignatius was on to something. We are moved by our spirits, things that either excite us, like an athletic team that we root for or in contrast the wave of sadness, despair, or shock that takes over when there is a tragedy, like 9-11 or a smaller scale but more personal when a horrific car crash happens in a small town. This spirit does not always take us where we need to be, we are not moved towards things by just our intellect. This can be illustrated by the many times we all do things that defy logic. Often it is recognized by others but not by ourselves. What St. Ignatius realized is that movement of the"spirit" is not strictly limited to things of the world but rather it is crucial in our spiritual life, especially in our relationship with God. He identified two movements of the spirit - consolation and desolation. In consolation there are varying degrees, but in general they are feelings that are good and are moving one closer to God, desolation is in general the opposite feeling, a drift away from God. An important aspect of one's feelings is that Satan (the evil one) is a master of using your feelings against you, so that although you may believe that you are doing good (in a general sense), you may actually moving away from God. How can figure this out? It takes discernment and spiritual guidance from someone who can recognize by listening what you probably can't. (sounds like psychotherapy) All of this goes into the recognition of your choices. Are you choosing to do God's will? This can be asked of everything you do, for true love of God is desiring to do His will always in all things. The best place to start is with instruction is an Ignation retreat. It will open up an avenue to discernment that can bring you closer to God. A book I would recommend is by Joseph A. Telow, SJ called Making Choices in Christ I would also recommend several books Father Timothy Gallagher, who interestingly is not a Jesuit, but has written several books (click here to see) that are easy to understand and very useful as an adjunct or supplement to a retreat.

In Luke 13:6-9 we find the parable of fig tree:
And he told them this parable: "There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,he said to the gardener, 'For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. (So) cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?'He said to him in reply, 'Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.'"
Using what St. Ignatius has left us can help cultivate and fertilize our spiritual lives.

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