"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)


The shoes of St. Ignatius the pilgrim
Sixth Rule of the Discernment of Spirits: Though in desolation we must never change our former resolutions, it will be very advantageous to intensify our activity against the desolation. We can insist more upon prayer, upon meditation, and on much examination of ourselves. We can make an effort in a suitable way to do some penance. (SE 319)

I lifted the following schema from Fr. Florencio Segura, SJ: Eight Days Of The Spiritual Exercises (pp. 210-211) that may help us self-examine about what it means to be human during a crisis. Every retreat is an internal reality check through these five aspects at work in every person.

TO LIVE is to conjugate the five verbs expressed below
When a group of shipwrecked people arrive at a deserted island, they go through these five verbs. They go on "making one's life"—going through these five great cultures.

a) TO HAVE: Before living [a certain kind of life], it is necessary to survive; and that is why the first thing that the shipwrecked person needs is to have—to have food, to have a roof, to have weapons, etc.

b) TO DO: And to have, one begins to do, e.g., one builds a hut, then one plows the land, searches for food, hunts animals, i.e., one begins to fight against the environment until it is made habitable.

c) TO EXIST: And when, [through] having and doing, one has already been able to integrate oneself somehow into the environment that was previously hostile and adapt it to one's needs, this person already begins to exist. One begins to achieve a culture of well-being—a technical (symbiotic) culture.

d) TO LOVE: But this person is not alone. One has arrived at that island with others. And others can be a threat to one's life, goods, and happiness.

Only when one manages to create some relationship with them that are at the same time satisfactory and stable, can that person begin to secure one's well-being. One has begun to love—[within a] culture of having relationship or the culture of "loving."

e) TO BE [BEING]: Because, when this person begins to wonder about the "why" of all that one has done; when one begins to act, no longer out of fears, impulses, or whims; when one is able to enter within one's very self and, finally, to find a coherent and durable sense to what one is doing, then this person finally begins to be.

From the culture of well-being, one passes at last to the culture of being good. One has already begun to "save one's soul." One is already able to explain and to justify one's life before oneself and others. One is already able to know why one chooses some things and leaves the others.

Praying Over My State Of Being Vis-à-vis Sacred Scripture
Each aspect has a corresponding text to meditate on. The rule of thumb "Not many but much" (Non Multa Sed Multum) applies. Focus on that aspect which is your weakest and move to that aspect that you feel is your strongest. Converse (Colloquy) with the Lord through the given Scripture passages like a friend talking to another friend.

a) To Have—Matthew 6:30-34 ("So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'...your heavenly Father knows that you need them."); John 6:26-33 ("I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.")

b) To Do—John 10:1-5 ("I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber."); Mark 13:9-13 ("Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.")

c) To Exist—Mark 4:13-20 ("Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful."); Luke 18:9-14 ("The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.'")

d) To Love—Luke 9:23-26 ("If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."); Matthew 5:38-48 ("If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers or sisters, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.")

e) To Be (Being)—Matthew 10:34-39 ("Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."); Mark 9:35-37 ("Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.")

"Gericault's Left Hand" by Eugene Delacroix

Questions Or Considerations To Ponder:

1. Get some writing materials and try to make a creative representation of these five aspects by tracing around your left or right hand on a recycled sheet of paper. Put the labels on each finger.

2. Share to a fellow retreatant your own creation. N.B. this is a personal representation of one's inner spiritual reality (State of Soul) which should be accorded with respect and prayerful reverence. Fr. JM Manzano, SJ

Second day of our Novena of Grace in honour of St. Ignatius of Loyola
Repeat this prayer for nine successive days. The first novena happened between the Feast of the Ascension and Pentecost, when the disciples gathered in the upper room and devoted themselves to prayer.

Suscipe (Prayer by St. Ignatius)
Take, O Lord, and receive
all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding and my entire will. All I have and call my own. Thou hast given all to me, to Thee, O Lord, I return it. Everything belongs to Thee; do with it as Thou wilt. Give me only the love of Thee and with it Thy grace, that is enough for me. Amen.

With St. Ignatius we pray:
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
And bid me come unto Thee,
That with all Thy saints,
I may praise Thee
Forever and ever.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.