A central meditation in St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises is that of the Two Standards, through which retreatants are to think about two armies on a battlefield, every holding a flag (a “standard”), able to cost into battle. On one aspect is the military of Christ; on the different, the military of the satan. It is an imaginative scene that may evoke in some folks pictures from their favourite battle epic. “Surely I would serve in the army of the great King, our Lord, Jesus Christ!” a youthful romantic (like Ignatius himself) would possibly utter.
But typically I’m wondering what the older Ignatius may need mentioned in giving the Exercises, as he remembered his personal misguided cost into battle, which resulted in a debilitating leg harm that bothered him the remainder of his life. Is this martial picture what he would wish to emphasize? Or reasonably, would it not be a chance to train a brand new sort of creativeness, one which invitations retreatants to call our temptations?
What do the two requirements say to us? Perhaps one says “selfishness,” and the different says “selflessness.” Or maybe “prestige” and “humility.” Or “power” and “charity.” What are the precise temptations I face in my life in the present day, which could lead me away from the service of religion and the promotion of a simply world?
I think about Ignatius himself gently guiding a retreatant towards pictures that look much less like battle and extra like ethical and religious problem. Do I select to behave in methods which profit me first? Do I mimic the fashions of the world round me, in search of to construct my very own social capital in the course of? Or do I hold a laser focus on the good that the Lord is doing in the world, asking just for the grace to be part of it?
I recall the work of Dean Brackley, SJ, who wrote about the Two Standards by suggesting a distinction between “upward mobility” and, as he known as it, “downward mobility.” Do I’ve the braveness to belief that Christ would possibly lead me towards service of the poor and outcast, even at the price of social or skilled recognition? Do I’ve the religion that Christ is doing an excellent factor in me, even when nobody (even I) can acknowledge it?
Photo by Artur Roman through Pexels.