Friday, July 31, 2009

St. Ignatius and his spiritual exercises

St. Ignatius is one of the soldier saints. In 2005 I went to my nephew's wedding at the Catholic chapel in West Point. The stained glass windows depict various saints who were soldiers, dressed in their military uniforms. St. Ignatius was there, of course, since he is probably the most famous soldier saint. The image surprised me a bit since I had never seen him depicted quite like that.

Ignatius is also known for his spiritual exercises. This 30-day retreat involves praying through four weeks, focusing on God's love for us and the whole life of Christ. Ignatius always has retreatants ask for the grace they most desire. "What is the desire of your heart?" When I first learned about this, it attracted me because God really wants to give us what we most desire. God doesn't want to frustrate us. Some types of spirituality could give that impression.

However, the key is to get to the deepest desires of our heart, not the superficial ones. The deepest desires have to do with following Jesus and loving him. The work of the 30-day retreat involves getting to those deepest desires.

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