What Tempts You?

reachingThis month Vinita Wright has been discussing some of the major themes of the Spiritual Exercises on her blog, Days of Deepening Friendship. I especially liked her recent post about the meditation on the Two Standards, where Ignatius challenges us to look critically at what we are attached to. Vinita brings up three disordered attachments that you might not think about immediately:

  • Silence: I do not speak up when something must be said, when I have wisdom that others need. I might call this humility, but really it is timidity, and I doubt that the Holy Spirit is behind it.
  • Passivity: I accept what happens even though I know that a situation should be different. Maybe I call it patience, but really it is fear that God will not help me make good, if painful, change.
  • Neglect of self: I pour myself out for everyone else and ignore my own soul’s cry for nourishment, comfort, and growth. I may call this holy sacrifice or service, but really it is a cruel denial of the sacred person God created me to be.


  1. My response is much like Jean’s. My greatest attachment is the need to feel secure. This need has an underlying motivator which is lack of trust- therefore I must jump in and take control! The trust and security issues have terrible consequences because I don’t use the gifts which God gave . I keep silent instead of speaking up and sharing thoughts and ideas. I am too easily swayed or shaken instead of learning from the experience. I also have a habit of linking security with things and not God. But as I wor through th Ignatian Adventure I am learning how to detach and it feels wonderful!

  2. My greatest temptation is the need to feel secure. This takes many forms but the root of it is a lack of trust in God and ultimately of faith, that God will provide. I try to stay one step ahead of all eventualities in life and while I realize this originates from childhood trauma, I’ve never been able to totally let go and let God. When I look back through my life, I see that God was always there, never once did He desert me, picking up the pieces, preparing the route, being present to me through others or those special moments in prayer when I sense His presence. I am always amazed at His patience with me.

  3. Thank you for your wise words. I’m frightfully attached to money, although I never had much of it. I wish I weren’t.

  4. Silence is not always timidity espeically in the face of mischief or evildoing. Sometimes silence is prudence. For instance there was a man destroying everything in his path and an older couple stopped and the wife delivered her preachful soliloquy. Guess what he did to her! She and her husband lived to tell about it and did not learn from their experience that would have taught them to walk on by and hold that silence until they get to the police.
    Passivity is also prudent in the face of stupid people intent only on doing exactly what they should not just to make everyone excited. Passivity sometimes is a means of not fueling someone else’s ego, sort of like looking the other way when a kid races past no hands on his bike just to show you he can.

    • The problem here, I should add, is that in doing what we think is the right thing like the woman in my first example, we risk dejection which in turn leads to giving up completely and the next time doing nothing at all.
      The fruits of her reaction are not good. Note that reaction is active whereas response is thoughtfu and in that woman’s case it appears from her comments that she operates from a sense of misplaced judgement. That form of do-goodism happens in the face of a “should” or “should not” and therefore she is the one who should fix it right here and right now. I recognize that because I do it myself. It is need-to-power in its most subliminal form and has nothing to do with Holy Spirit leading.


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