Ignatius opens his Spiritual Exercises with what he calls the “Principle and Foundation.” Every prayer and practice that follows is based on this basic belief. It can be a dry read, but one commentator calls it “an invitation for you to experience more deeply how intimately related you are to God and to all of God's creation” (Kevin O’Brien, SJ, The Ignatian Adventure). The heart of it is to realize that God created us to be in loving communion with him:
"The human person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by doing so, to save his or her soul. All other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings in order to help them pursue the end for which they are created. It follows from this that one must use other created things, in so far as they help towards one's end, and free oneself from them, in so far as they are obstacles to one's end. To do this, we need to make ourselves indifferent to all created things, provided the matter is subject to our free choice and there is no other prohibition. Thus, as far as we are concerned, we should not want health more than illness, wealth more than poverty, fame more than disgrace, a long life more than a short one, and similarly for all the rest, but we should desire and choose only what helps us more towards the end for which we are created."
Today, focus only on the purpose for which we are created: "to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord, and by doing so, to save our soul.” This purpose is not utilitarian; it is a journey and relationship. We are not tools with a function; we are children with a Father. Our daily life is an unfolding adventure of loving God. None of the other fixtures and features of our lives—work, entertainment, experience, or even family—are the ultimate reason why we are here. Everything else is gathered into this one massive, mysterious goal—life with God.
In what concrete ways do you personally praise, love, and serve God? How do you use and cooperate with creation (things, activities, places, people, etc.) to do those things? Pray that God teaches you to experience and embrace more fully the purpose for which you were created and called.
About the Author
Nick Chambers is the Director of Spiritual Formation at Calvary UMC