In celebration of our fifth anniversary, we’ve invited our dotMagis bloggers to reflect on the individual lines of St. Ignatius’s Prayer for Generosity.
Any runner understands and even craves that feeling you get when you push yourself—when your lungs ache, your muscles scream for rest, and your legs threaten mutiny at any given moment, but you keep going. That perseverance means beating your best time or best distance. It feels good, and it keeps feeling good all day long. It satisfies.
It’s that satisfying feeling that I think of when I reflect on the line of St. Ignatius’s Prayer for Generosity: “to toil and not to seek for rest.” While on the surface that line seems a bit scary (who doesn’t need rest?), I think St. Ignatius is really praying for perseverance. When you want to give up, when you want to stop running, instead persevere, go further. In Ignatian terms, this is called agere contra.
When I was doing the Spiritual Exercises, our director would remind us that when we wanted to cut our prayer time just a little short, when we felt like it was going nowhere, that’s when we needed to push a little more instead. He believed that it was in those moments when we held on a little longer and pushed through the temptation to just let it be for today and go back tomorrow, that the greatest fruitfulness would come to us. Agere contra, our director would advise. If you feel like ending five minutes early, end five minutes later instead.
When we look at our day-to-day lives, we can see the rewards of perseverance in much that we do. We can see them in that glorious run, in not giving up when we’re learning something new and challenging, and when we work through rough spots in our relationships rather than letting them go. There is always great reward to be found if we just hang on.
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