As a child, Ignatius listened with amazement while his father and his eldest brother told stories about how their ancestors had served with distinction the kings of Castile, how they had identified with and dedicated themselves to the monarchy, and how they had been richly rewarded for their devotion. After his conversion, Ignatius strove to serve the greater glory of the one true ruler of the world: Christ.
Human rulers have human flaws. They can be greedy or profligate, brutal or weak, arbitrary or narrow, petty or insensitive. Nonetheless, most of us follow these human rulers.
Ignatius reminded us that the only ruler truly deserving of our total dedication is Jesus Christ. Only Jesus merits our complete attention, obedience, service, and worship. Only Jesus gives unconditional love, is eternally faithful, and is the best source of hope. In the Exercises, Ignatius invited us to enter Christ’s service wholeheartedly. If we can serve human rulers well, we should serve Christ without reserve.
- Brainstorm. Write a list of all the ways you follow human leaders or rulers. Write the names of the human leaders and rulers to whom you offer obedience and service. Indicate in some way the level of respect, service, or honor that each leader deserves. Think about each one’s flaws and positive contributions. Finally, ponder this question: Do I pay more attention to obeying human rulers than I do to following the call of Christ?
- Ignatius was consumed with the honor and the glory of God. He would do, sacrifice, or suffer anything for the coming of God’s reign. Consider these questions about your focus in life:
- What focuses your energies? What consumes you?
- How can you relate what consumes you or gives your life focus to the call of Christ—the Good News?
- Like the mythological heroes and heroines of old, Ignatius gave his life for someone and for something beyond himself. Like the saints who had inspired him, Ignatius consecrated himself to Christ.
- What does the call of Christ stir within you?
- What chains within you shackle the stirrings you may feel to follow Jesus more completely?
- Where are you being stretched to be more than your culture or family has programmed you to be? To do things you never dreamed possible?
- What will you do to live freely in Christ, to love generously, to forgive magnanimously, and to serve with joy even your enemies?
—Excerpted from Praying with Ignatius of Loyola by Jacqueline Bergan and Marie Schwan, CSJ