HomedotMagisReflectionsTo Toil and Not to Seek for Rest

To Toil and Not to Seek for Rest

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.
Prayer for Generosity - "To toil and not to seek for rest" line highlighted
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.

Cara Callbeck
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. I learnt this at school in morning Assembly in the 1950s but in “old” language. It has been with me all my adult life . In this modern version it doesn’t, for me, have anything like the same impact.

  2. Cara, this is just what I needed to read today! With prayer, I so often put off “till tomorrow” and then, never go back.
    All these reflections on the St Ignatius prayer for Generosity are such blessings.
    Thank you to all.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Loretta Pehanich
Marina Berzins McCoy
Tim Muldoon