Ignatius in July, 4 & 5: On Freedom

Whoops! Missed a day.

It’s the day after a holiday weekend, and we’re back to work. Unless we’ve tacked on some extension of leisure to the long weekend. Searching through some resources for prayers for summer choir practices, I found this one here, designated as “A Prayer for Spiritual Freedom (Prayer Before a Meeting).”

O Spirit of God, we ask you to help orient
all our actions by your inspirations,
carry them on by your gracious assistance,
that every prayer and work of ours
may always begin from you
and through you be happily ended.

I was struck by the line “orient all our actions.” I think of a compass. I think of the root word suggesting we look east, seeking the Lord in the morning sunrise, a hint and taste of the glorious union once we get beyond this time.

Saint Ignatius, with whom some of us are observing this, the last month of an Ignatian Year, didn’t seem to have too many prayers about leisure. If he took a summer vacation, I’d bet he spent most of the time writing letters.

One of my favorite Jesuit guides is Thomas Green, author of many books on the spiritual life. I was fortunate to meet him when he did a residency in my parish during some months of my years in grad school. He was quoted in a talk he gave once along the lines of

God is not a doting Father, constantly intervening to “make things right” no matter what we do—at least, this is not the God and Father whom Jesus reveals to us. He gives us freedom, and He expects us to use it well.

Freedom rather resonates in the afterglow of our North American holidays of yesterday and Friday. The above prayer, cited in Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits, contains that word “freedom” in the title only. I suppose we assume we are acting in freedom. Fr Green gets a bit more to the point. We aren’t going to get constant nudges to steer us straight. Yes, if we are careful, we can discern inspirations at the start and at key moments during one of our endeavors. We aren’t likely to get nightly dreams.

Think of the example of Saint Joseph and his dreams. When he needed to be straightened out, the angel’s message told him to accept Mary, to flee to safety, to return when the coast was clear. The details were left to the man: the legalities, the transportation, the livelihood.

A social media friend was concerned recently about an NCReg “gossip column” outing liturgical “abuses” in the diocese of the latest bishop to be named to the Vatican dicastery for liturgy. How much could any of us outside of Chicagoland affect any change there? Where is our freedom to be used in this situation? What about working to make our own lives of prayer and liturgy hew more closely to the call we have received?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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