Indifference and Desire

Indifference is not the same as apathy. Not at all. Section 23 of the Spiritual Exercises on the Principle and Foundation:

(O)ne must use other created things in so far as they help towards one’s end, and free oneself from them in so far as they are obstacles to one’s end. To do this we need to make ourselves indifferent to all created things, provided the matter is subject to our free choice and there is no prohibition. Thus as far as we are concerned, we should not want health more than illness, wealth more than poverty, fame more than disgrace, a long life more than a short one, and similarly for all the rest, but we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created.
– Saint Ignatius of Loyola: Personal Writings, translated by Joseph A. Munitiz and Philip Endean, Penguin Books, London 2004, p.289

And this is so difficult. At least it seems so to me.

I think St Ignatius is not counseling a lack of caring. On a basic level, what happens to us in life shouldn’t make a real difference in what we do, and how we serve God. Ignatius himself had a period of great rigor in the practice of the faith. But he got over it.

God also recognizes we have a lot to “get over” as we practice good spiritual life. God sees our hang-ups and loves us all the more. The line from Thomas Merton’s prayer comes to mind:

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you and I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.

Desire … now there’s another topic.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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