Sunday, August 24, 2008

Great Little Meditation Book - and Prayer

Before I went on vacation I got a recommendation somewhere (Amazon or another website) for a little meditation book titled "Take Five, On-The-Job Meditations With St. Ignatius". Looked and sounded good so I ordered it. Like most books, they end up on my nightstand for awhile before I get to them. This one, though, because of the "On-The-Job...." subtitle, I tossed it in my briefcase. I've been exceptionally busy at work since I got back from vacation but the other day I actually pulled it out and started using it. And am glad I did!

This little book incorporates St. Ignatius writings with the Gospel and short meditations including a a thought you can memorize and use throughout the day.

Quick warning: if you are the type of person that believes that perfection is not something to seek than it may not be for you. That doesn't mean I believe I will ever be perfect but I do believe that striving for perfection is still a worthy goal and one that Christ set for us. For example, in the second meditation they quote Matthew 5:48, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect". Does God expect me to be perfect? No. But that doesn't mean that there is no virtue in striving to be "perfect" in God's eyes.

The main reason I post tonight is the prayer found in the third meditation and it goes like this:

"Teach us, good Lord, to serve You as You deserve,
to give and not count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not seek for rest,
to labor and not ask for any reward
except that of knowing that we do Your will."

Does that impress upon you the consistency between St. Ignatius teaching and the 12 Steps or what?

For more information about this great little book you can click on the book at the lower left in "My Library".

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Saint John Eudes?

I had never heard of St. John Eudes before today. I must have been out of it on August 19th the past few years as today is his feast day. You can click the link to read more about him or search on Google. One of his claims to fame is preaching more than 110 missions. And based on the reading in today's Office of Readings I can understand why. I think it is worth typing out the whole of today's passage here.

From a treatise on the admirable Heart of Jesus by Saint John Eudes, priest

I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is your true head and that you are a member of his body. He belongs to you as the head belongs to the body. All that is his is yours: breath, heart, body, soul and all his faculties. All of these you must use as if they belonged to you, so that is serving him you may give him praise, love and glory. You belong to him as a member belongs to the head. This is why h earnestly desires you to serve and glorify the Father by using all your faculties as if they were his.

He belongs to you, but more than that, he longs to be in you, living and ruling in you, as the head lives and rules in the body. He desires that whatever is in him may live and rule in you: his breath in your breath, his heart in your heart, all the faculties of his soul in the faculties of your soul, so that these words may be fulfilled in you: Glorify God and bear him in your body, that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in you.

You belong to the Son of God, but more than that, you ought to be in him as the members are in the head. All that is in you must be incorporated into him. You must receive life from him and be ruled by him. There will be no true life for you except in him, for he is the one source of true life. Apart from him you will find only death and destruction. Let him be the only source of your moments, of the actions and the strength of your life. He must be both the source and the purpose of your life, so that you may fulfill these words: None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master. While we live, we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die, we die as his servants. Both in life and death we are the Lord's. That is why Christ died and came to life again, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. (Romans 14:7-9)

Finally, you are one with Jesus as the body is one with the head. You must, then, have one breath with him, one soul, one will, one mind, one heart. And he must be your breath, heart, love, life, your all. These great gifts in the follower of Christ originate from baptism. They are increased and strengthened through confirmation and by making good use of other graces that are given by God. Through the holy eucharist they are brought to perfection.

I think reading this passage daily for a few days will not only the recovering Catholic but every Christian. Imagine a world, or a country, or a state or even a town where everyone thought like this. If you can do that you have just gotten a glimpse of heaven!

Friday, August 1, 2008

St. Ignatius and Bill Wilson

Today (well yesterday since I posted this after midnight!) the Church celebrates the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola .

Like most people, there have been many twists and turns my journey in recovery. Early on I had read some of the AA books like "Pass It On" and "AA Comes of Age" and learned of the initial meeting between Bill W. and Fr. Ed Dowling. It wasn't until years later that I would really learn the importance of that meeting.

It was Fr. Dowling who had read about AA and it's Twelve Steps and immediately saw the link between the steps and, being a Jesuit, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. There is a short document available on the Internet that describes this link

There is also a wonderful book that documents the relationship between Bill Wilson and Fr. Dowling, "The Soul of Sponsorship". The book contains excepts from the letters exchanged between these men over many years. Fr. Dowling became Bill Wilson's spiritual director and some believe that Bill might have converted to Catholicism if it would not have given the appearance that the AA program was ultimately a path to the Catholic Church.

I was fortunate enough to make a seven day silent retreat at a Jesuit retreat house last year. It was during that retreat that I became more familiar with the Spiritual Exercises. I have tried, inconsistently mind you, to use a great book by Fr. Jim Harbaugh called "A Twelve Step Approach to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius" . He also has a similar volume called "A Twelve Step Approach to the Sunday Readings" . I highly recommend both!

So on this feast of St. Ignatius I would encourage anyone looking to incorporate the Catholic faith into their twelve step program to investigate the Spiritual Exercises.