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Sunday, 22 September 2013

St. Ignatius on Being Holy in Difficult Times

St. Ignatius wrote "Rules for Thinking with The Church" and it is particularly applicable for our times.

A few points can be highlighted here. The first thing, however, I want to note, is that the people of Ignatius's day, and in the days of St. Teresa of Avila, did not have access to Mass and the sacraments as we do now.

People had to strive to be holy with perhaps only Confession once a year and Communion once a month. The problem was a shortage of priests. We need, today, to look at the lives we live in passing up the sacraments when we could go. This is serious. Think of the great saints who did not have the advantages of daily Mass. Even the nuns in Cobh and in London, as they no longer have their own chaplains, only have Confession once every two weeks.

Now. St. Ignatius notes that we should praise both the positive theologians and the Scholastics. He makes the interesting comment that Scholastic Theology is particularly good in difficult times, as it is clear on definitions, which people need in times of chaos and laxity.

The second point I want to emphasize is Ignatius' warning against talking too much about faith and grace.

What a great insight. He notes that talking too much about salvation in faith and grace may create the idea that good works are not necessary. And, again, in difficult times, Ignatius notes that free will and good works must be taught. One can see a pattern of rational discourse informing faith and making people in a particular times more aware of what they need to do.

The last point will shake up some readers. St. Ignatius states this: "Thought the zealous service of God our Lord out of pure love should be esteemed above all, we ought also to praise highly the fear of the Divine Majesty. For not only filial fear but also servile fear is pious and very holy. When nothing higher or more useful is attained, it is very helpful for rising from mortal sin, and once this is accomplished, one may easily advance to filial fear, which is wholly pleasing and agreeable to God our Lord since it is inseparably associated with the love of Him"

When was the last time you heard a sermon on fear of the Lord?