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

DAY XI: Ignatius' Cura Personalis (JULY 28)

St. Ignatius In A Prayer Under the Stars
Icon by Fr. William McNichols SJ
Eleventh Rule of the Discernment of Spirits: He who enjoys consolation should take care to humble himself and lower himself as much as possible. Let him recall how little he is able to do in time of desolation, when he is left without such grace or consolation.

On the other hand, one who suffers desolation should remember that by making use of the sufficient grace offered him, he can do much to withstand all his enemies. Let him find strength in his Creator and Lord. (SE 324)

Much of St. Ignatius of Loyola's spiritual wisdom is immortalised in his letters, a treasure trove that brings back to life his spirit. The older it is means the more valuable it is. However, its value is not found in the material but in the one treasure that the proverbial earthen vessels contain. His many letters, mostly written to his fellow Jesuits, contain how tirelessly he taught and guided them in their spiritual path and about other matters that led to God's glorification. Five hundred years have passed but if you read his letters you might think as if those were written yesterday by a saintly next-door neighbour. Ignatius could be counted as a true renaissance man by way of his well-rounded and down-to-earth personality whom anyone of us could emulate, e.g., as a mystic, a spiritual father, a leader and founder, a saint, great lover of God, holy servant of the Church, among others. The common thread that runs through these litany of commendations is his cura personalis or indulgent concern and affection for every person that he encountered in his life. Many of whom were able to receive a letter from him. Once he reckoned how many letters were waiting to be hand-mailed, it reached two hundred fifty. Interestingly, all were written by longhand. He wrote as often as once every three months for lengthier letters and every other week for briefer notes. Now there is a thought, especially for us who simply need to lift a finger to press send-button.

St. Ignatius in A Prayer Under the Stars by Fr. William McNichols, SJ dramatizes for us the celestial feat and distance of the saint's love of God and neighbour. There is a line in Tom Topor’s 1979 play "Nuts": “When I was a little girl, I used to say to her, ‘I love you to the moon and down again and around the world and back again.’ And she used to say to me, ‘I love you to the sun and down again and around the stars and back again.’” This is the cura personalis of St. Ignatius in a nutshell.

I would like to share three excerpts from "The Spirit of St. Ignatius" translated from the French of Rev. Fr. Xavier de Franciosi, SJ, c. 1892.

1. "He behaved towards them with such moderation, that he seemed to be less their superior than their servant... Moreover, he refrained from commanding... Even when he was obliged to use authority, it was thoroughly paternal, and accompanied by marks of trust and affection. Often, when he had to deal with difficult matters, he went so far as to give the reasons for what he required, drawn not only from human prudence but also from Divine charity... the greater service of God. He proceeded with such skill and care, he set forth in so persuasive a way the motives which actuated him, that those whom he addressed were not only brought over to his opinion, but adopted it of their own accord..." (ON GOVERNMENT, p. 397).
2. "When they returned from a journey... he was the first to go to greet them. 'You are welcome'... 'How has everything gone on?' He inquired about all... wishing to know if they had been properly taken care of, and had wanted anything... he comforted them... congratulated them, and thanked them... as for a service rendered to himself personally, praising them, and using them as an example for their brethren. He used to keep them to dinner... 'Come and do penance with me'. He served them himself, and took pleasure in choosing fruit and offering them an orange which he had peeled for them... To prove... he thought of them, he made use of the numerous little incidents of ordinary life... which became of high price through the good grace with which he turned them to account, e.g., Brother Palmio, who had not yet received Holy Orders, was to make his first appearance as a preacher... Wishing not to speak into the air, but to do some good to souls, yet counting little, doubtless, upon the effect of his eloquence to attract and retain a considerable audience... Meanwhile, when passing along the street one day, he happened to meet a poor old beggar... the idea came into his head to address this woman, and invite her humbly to be present at his approaching sermon. Ignatius heard of it, and this... pleased him much. To show his satisfaction, and to encourage him... he said to him with a kind smile: 'Do all you can to succeed. I also wish to contribute to the success of your preaching, and I will seek out some good old woman and send her to hear you, to increase your audience'" (ON GOVERNMENT, p. 385).
3. "In the year 1545, the doctors having forbidden Father Ribadeneira to fast, he had some difficulty in submitting to their decision, as he feared that he would cause scandal to the community. Ignatius was aware of it and he said... 'Will any one dare to take scandal at such a thing? Should not such a person thank God rather that he is not reduced to the same extremity as you are?' The same thing having occurred the following year, the Saint said decidedly that if it came to his knowledge that any one had been scandalized on this account, he should not hesitate a moment to turn him out of the Society" (ON LOVE OF OUR NEIGHBOUR, p. 34). 
Fr. JM Manzano, SJ
Seventh 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.