Grace and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
Archival Number: A161
Author: Lonergan, B.
Database and descriptions © Copyright 2017 by Robert M. Doran
Grace and the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius (A 161)
1 SE sometimes depicted as voluntarist, Stoic, Pelagian; a set of things that I am going to do to make myself holier.
If not in any manner heretical, at least no emphasis on grace, on the spontaneous movement of the soul towards God because of the working of grace.
Lawlor, Grace and SE, TS 3 1942 513-32.
(a) Superficial cause of this view.
The existence of superficial Jesuits who have learnt something about the spiritual life when they were novices, who learnt nothing from their philosophy or theology or tertianship, who think that giving exercises is a matter of complementing what they learnt in the noviceship with stories.
Rightly Lawlor admits the existence of such Jesuits and makes no attempt to defend them.
(b) Deeper cause of this view. The state of theology.
Influence of conceptualism on theology: grace consists of a set of metaphysical entities that exist, that cannot be defined (no specification by formal object), that cannot be related to anything else.
Inhabitation of Holy Spirit: au second plan; whatever its cause; perhaps Neo-Platonist confusion of assimilation with union.
Relation of theology to SScr and life: properly it provides a conceptual network, like a microscope, for reading of SScr, for understanding of life; but the substitution for theological science of fruitless theological debating about questions put mistakenly made theology into something quite irrelevant to the understanding of Sscr and of life.
Under these conditions the only manner in which SE could have dealt with grace, could have emphasized grace, would have been to eliminate their character of ‘exercises’ and substitute for them an abstract treatise on grace.
For if what is meant by grace is the topic of mistaken controversy, the metaphysical entity that cannot be defined in anything but purely metaphysical categories, that cannot be related intelligibly and organically to other more obvious things, then only controversial statements about metaphysical entities unrelated to ordinary living could deal with grace.
(c) Even with satisfactory theological theory, one cannot proceed at once to examining exercises for their doctrine of grace. An abstract doctrine of grace is one thing; a practical manual on a method of cooperating with grace is another.
2 What is the grace one may look for in the SE.
(a) Grace is that by which (1) we are (2) more and more we are (3) living members of Xt Jesus and (4) more and more fully and even more consciously living members of Xt Jesus.
(a') union: inhabitation of SpS; coming of Father and Son
(b') assimilation: a participation of the grace of Xt, producing in us the effects it produced in the humanity of Xt.
habitual and actual illuminations of our understanding and of the orientation of our wills
(c') union and assimilation = the life as of a member; gratia plena, Dominus tecum
(b) Phenomenologically, existentially. Not in isolation but as a factor in the general field of consciousness, conscious striving
(a') Victory over sin: the sensitive part of our natures may remain for some time in a read bondage; but that decreases; the spiritual virtues regard (a) seeing it is wrong, as opposed to non-Catholic justification of sin (b) not wanting to do wrong (c) refusing consent and, if falls, speedy repentance.
Mortal sin; habitual deliberate venial; occasional delib venial
If any man will love me, he will keep my commandments and my Father and I will come to him and abide with him.
[Margin, next to the block under (b) above:]
Absence: no conclus (a) not good at self-analysis (b) grace works in myriad mm. (c) the divine Guest wishes to be hidden
(b') Aspirations: illumination of int., inspiration of will. More easily seen in large-scale events.
Vocation: something you did not want, and yet you could not get out of it; that formula may not fit, but you will find some other, that equally will reveal the ‘self’ and the ‘Guest.’
Discontinuity with one’s mediocrity; an unexplained yet persistent desire to love God really and truly; spurts made in times of retreat; and conversion before ordination, later, earlier (something very commonsense, solid, yet something that previously you were not willing to do; a strategic decision, something with dynamic implications)
(c') Consolations and desolations.
Grace is union and assimilation with God through process; hence succession of periods of tension, striving and periods of ease when issue has been met.
Ignatius: Annot 6: if nothing happening, are you playing game?
(d') Docility to Holy Spirit. de Guibert 122-61.
Factor of grace in general states of consciousness in sharper relief: one can go from the state to its cause; and from its cause to a practical conclusion about God’s will in me.
Rules for discernment of spirits.
Second time for an election: when a notable succession of consolations and desolations, both leading to the same conclusion, make plain what should be done, what is true in the Spirit.
(e') The phenomena of the unitive way.
A break across consciousness: intellect and will engaged in supernatural operations (the presence of God in the soul, in my soul); sense undergoes successively greater eclipse (control of inner, outer senses, increasingly lost) and then returns to function normally despite presence of higher operations.
3 Grace is the meaning of the Exercises.
[At top, handwritten: Ignat[ius] a contemplative. Wanted Jesuits to be contemplatives in action. ‘Ut in omnibus quaerant Deum.’
(a) Exercises are a consequence of the doctrine of grace.
(b) They are a consequence of the life of grace in St. Ignatius.
(c) Making them is a consequence of grace in the exercitant.
(d) The goal of making them is a fuller life of grace in the exercitant.
(e) Giving them properly requires in the director (a) a grasp of the theory of grace so that he will know what he is cooperating with and how he should cooperate (b) a life of grace of his own so that from his personal experience he will be able to understand the exercitant and help him.
Illustrations of the foregoing thesis from the exercises. A lead to further study on your part.
(a) The fact that they are exercises.
Grace is a mystery: there is a notional apprehension through theology; there is a real apprehension in concrete living; the exercises are a device of real apprehension.
St Bernard on the unitive way: one cannot talk about it; each one has to drink at his own well; true, for all concrete real apprehension of grace; you know life by living; you know what it is to be a living member of Christ by being one as fully as you can.
Hence book of exercises is an Urdirektorium, a manual of instructions.
Hence not what is humility but how one become humble, through poverty and humiliation.
Nor what is love, but how one prays to grow in love.
(b) Exercises in seclusion and prayer
Artificial removal of impediments; direct effort at raising heart and mind to God; effort to do so through God’s grace (second prelude: id quod volo; regularly, not what I want but what God wants me to want and by changing me through grace will make me want)
Annot 20, ad fin: Tertia, quod quanto se magis reperit anima segregatam ac solitariam, tanto aptiorem se ipsam reddit ad quaerendum attingendumque Creatorem et Dominum suum
Annot 15, ad fin: ita ut qui tradit exercitia, non divertat, nec se inclinet ad unam neque ad alteram partem; sed consistens in medio, ad instar bilancis, sinat Creatorem cum creatura, et creaturam cum suo Creatore et Domino immediate operari (grace is life of member, mutual indwelling and operation)
(c) Exercises towards putting off the told man and putting on the new
First week: break down hard egoism of sin: we are ourselves consciously by self-affirmation, self-affirmation against opposition’ there is a self born of self-affirmation against God
Second week: learning true justice and sanctity before God as revealed in Xt Jesus; Xt as exemplary cause of justification
(d) Parallel of Teacher and Director.
Teacher cannot make pupil understand (grasp quod quid est) and he cannot make him see what is true (grasp an sit). He can only stimulate, cause visual and auditory images; pupil has to wonder, try to grasp why, reflect, grasp must be so.
As teacher has to count on int agens, so director has to count on grace; teacher can know much better how int agens works than director can know how God operating on this soul.
Annot 2: brief points: ‘non abundantia scientiae sed sensus et gustus interior’; God’s grace makes meditation possible and fruitful; help it rather than distract from it.
Annot 3: reverence, more required in exercise of will and affections than in exercise of intellect; what is reverence (a) a bodily posture (b) a mental attitude (c) flowing from grace making us realize who God is (d) inversely disposing us to receive that grace, disposing to let the grace we have received have its full effect upon us. Concretely: reverence is an experience in which we perceive the divine majesty in our own attitude.
Annot 4: posture that helps; the point that helps i.e., the imaginal and intellectual representation that provides a perch, a basis, a resonance to the grace God is giving me.
Colloquy: End of first exercise; as one friend to another; by grace we are friends of God; amicus alter ipse, we are other selves to the indwelling spirit and our sins grieve him, and God is another, a super-self, to us by charity (love God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength).
(e) Action of the spirits.
Acknowledgment: Annot 4, 6, 7
Use of rules for discernment: Annot 8-10
Exercises to be adopted to individual exercitant Annot 18-19; but also to action of Spirits, Annot 4, 17
Director, takes a hand against disordinate affections, Annot 16. Exercitant throughout exercises reacts against his disordinate affections, seeks to be in position in which he can make an election without disordinate affection, without bias.
But director does not intervene in election itself Annot 15; election (a) purely matter of grace (b) through consolation and desolation (c) through reasoning it out (3 times for election)
(f) Cooperation of man.
Grace is that by which we are living members of Xt; being living member of Xt does not mean that we are mere organs (analogy is imperfect); we have our own intelligence, our liberty, our responsibility; we are alive in Xt.
Hence we make the exercises to be more fully alive, we do so ‘magno animo et liberali’ Annot 5, we do so faithfully Annot 12, esp in desolation, Annot 13; our decisions have to be prudent, not over-optimism of consolation, annot 14; we make use of everything, milieu, atmosphere, imagination, sensibility, posture, penance and omission of penance.