Ignatius’s Presupposition and Intent in a Social Media Comment

checking phoneThe words stared back at me from my Facebook page, taunting me and complimenting me all at once. I had just returned from a road trip to a football game in my home town with some old friends. The team I was cheering for happens to be the rival team to the city in which I live now. Upon my posting pictures from the game, an acquaintance commented, “You’re awesome, Cara, seriously awesome.” Unfortunately, with short comments often failing to communicate tone, combined with the fact that I only know the commenter on a superficial level, I was left wondering if it was a compliment, or sarcasm, or possibly even the musings of someone who may have overindulged that weekend. The would-be compliment left me agonizing for nights on end regarding the comment’s true nature—and wondering why I let it matter to me so much.

In the midst of my ponderings on the comment, I recalled the Spiritual Exercises and St. Ignatius’s instructions to retreatants in the Presupposition: “..let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbor’s proposition than to condemn it. If he cannot save it, let him inquire how he means it; and if he means it badly, let him correct him with charity.” (SE 22)

I admit I have a tendency to think the worst in most situations, and this was no different. After struggling with the comment for a few days, I finally did manage to follow the advice of the Exercises and accept the compliment rather than condemn it. The nature of the comment lay only in how I chose to perceive it. I realized that, in pondering its potential malice, I was letting my own doubts and insecurities prevent me from receiving a gift from another.

Finding God in those around us can be related to finding the good in a person or situation. Assuming the best, or seeking out the best, even when the temptation may be to focus on the negative (or the potential negative) is certainly a challenge. But perhaps it will help to remember that being blind to the potential good in a situation only prevents us from accepting and cherishing all that God offers us.

And so, I thank God that I may have had a positive influence on this friend that she would be prompted to compliment me as she did. And if that was not her intent, I pray that my actions in the future might one day prompt such a statement of me to be justified.

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Cara Callbeck
Cara Callbeck holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and works in the public sector as a human resources professional. Cara recently completed the Spiritual Exercises and has since felt quite drawn to Ignatian spirituality. She is now on a quest to learn more and grow and to incorporate Ignatian spirituality in her life as a professional, mother, and “woman for others.” Cara lives in the Canadian Prairies with the two greatest blessings in her life—her husband and daughter.


  1. Why do we always think that someone has a hidden agenda? is it because we have become too distrustful of everybody that we do not see any “goodness’ in the people around us, including our love ones?

  2. Thank you for your honesty. I also, need to ” think the best of people” instead of otherwise. How easier/ happier life would be.

  3. I had to chuckle when I read your Bio because I too am a Canadian Prairie girl and understand all too well your concern over understanding the meaning of the Facebook message left for you after attending the football game…I would have done the same thing…wondered and dwell on it. Thanks for reminding me to always take the positive view (and lay aside the negative). CFL rivalries on the prairies are strong eh! So I have a feeling you may be referring to the Labour Day Classic/Banjo Bowl…but perhaps I’m wrong and its the Stamps/Eskimo rivalry! I grew up in Winnipeg, then lived in Edmonton for 10 years and now live in small town Manitoba with my two greatest blessings – husband and daughter.

  4. A good job of analysis, catching yourself. I tend to the “a paranoiac in reverse” [Salinger’s phrase], thinking that people are conspiring to make me happy.

  5. Well said SAM… When is a compliment, a REAL
    compliment. Or just someone being facetious!?! FACE BOOK comments….. Leave them alone I would say .. A.M.D.G.

  6. This was great! It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who gets paranoid about trivial stuff like this, and also to see that there’s a better way to orient myself to the “potential negatives” we all face.

  7. You describe a problem with which I also struggle. Not only in comments made in writing and therefore without vocal inflection etc but sometimes with actions I observe in others. Such negative observations on my part can restrict my interest in getting to know others or to become involved in a potential friendship. I am praying for a pure heart that seeks to see Christ in others at all times and to thereby sow them the face of Christ in me but its not always easy to do so. While it sounds simple it can be very complicated. I pray that Jesus will transform my heart and soul to be more like him.


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