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


DAY XII: Your Love And Your Grace Are Enough (JULY 29)

Ignatius at La Storta
Twelfth Rule of the Discernment of Spirits: The enemy conducts himself as a woman. He is a weakling before a show of strength, and a tyrant if he has his will. It is characteristic of a woman in a quarrel with a man to lose courage and to take flight if the man shows that he is determined and fearless. However, if the man loses courage and begins to flee, the anger, vindictiveness, and rage of the woman surge up and know no bounds. In the same way, the enemy becomes weak, loses courage, and turns to flight with his seductions as soon as one leading a spiritual life faces his temptations boldly, and does exactly the opposite of what he suggests. However, if one begins to be afraid and to lose courage in temptations, no wild animal on earth can be more fierce than the enemy of our human nature. He will carry out his perverse intentions with consummate malice. (SE 325)
As we have seen in the previous rule, there are two things that God does, He gives consolations "as every good thing is from above" and He permits desolations. Some desolations are necessary to go in tandem with consolations. Like a see-saw, desolation has the advantage of preventing any form of false or unhealthy consolation, e.g., security turning into self-preservation, poverty into self-righteousness, etc. Times of desolation serve like a leaven that enable us to be receptive to the Lord and find constancy and meaning in life while undergoing crisis. This is what it means to have a magnanimous spirit or "grande animo" as St. Ignatius had signified to be the perfect disposition of a retreatant.

'Your Love and Your Grace'
In God's eternal point of view, there is no distinction between His love and His grace. God always gives totally and freely. Totally, i.e., including the gift of Himself in Jesus Christ through his paschal mystery. Freely, i.e., we are free to choose or not the gift. That is the great risk God took when He gave us our freedom.

There are three possible human responses to God's total and free gift of Himself: 'Yes', 'No' and 'Not Yet'. As God has promised, His love never changes no matter what it takes. If we cannot settle for a 'yes' or a 'no' response, we can say 'not yet' and God will wait patiently, tirelessly and still full of love. However, nothing could stop Him from pursuing the lost, the least and the last to whom He would give totally and freely to the great envy of the righteous. "We are much sooner tired of receiving our Lord's gifts than He is of bestowing them upon us" (5). Besides, it all too often depends on what we ask for in prayer and how free we are in our asking. We can imitate Photine, the Samaritan woman, who asked Jesus once, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water" (Jn 4:15).

Let us now dig in deeper into what love really consists of. For St. Ignatius, it was God who loved us first and only afterwards enabled us, through the same grace, to love God back. "The love which our Lord has for us causes His providence to direct all things for us better than we could ask or even desire" (4). Precisely, the goal of every retreat is just how to re-claim this kind of love. The last verse of the Suscipe or "Take Lord and Receive" prayer has been often translated as "... give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me." In the original Spanish, what St. Ignatius most probably had in mind was, "Give me only the love of Thee, and together with it, Thy grace, that is enough for me." St. Ignatius makes love of Thee all-encompassing, to intermingle both love for and love from Thee.

In Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (III, i, 156), we have this famous line, "Love sought is good, but giv'n unsought is better." Viola (disguised as a man named "Cesario") tries so hard to dissuade Countess Olivia from falling in love with her who plays the impostor Cesario. Viola tells Olivia, "I am not what I am." Poor and naïve Olivia, in shameless persistence, replies, "Love sought is good, but giv'n unsought is better." To be loved is a good thing, but to be loved before you learn of it or aspire for it is even much better. Olivia is quite right there though with a cast-iron case. Foolish but nonetheless very true because that is pretty much like how God is with us. Imagine now it is God telling you the same line. He too seeks out our love but the love freely chosen and given is sweeter to Him—it is this that God does not have. No wonder if one sinner, who is unexpected to love God, repents the whole heaven and the host of angels break forth into joy. Ignatius had without doubt attained to this sublime and highest degree of charity which transforms in God him who possesses it. He lived, as it were, more in God than in himself. He once said, "Life would be unbearable to me if I were to discover in the depths of my soul some remains of what is human and which did not belong entirely to God... They can take away my life, but the united efforts of heaven, earth, and hell, could not tear from my soul the love of God" (12).

'Love ought to manifest more in deeds than in words'
God loved us before we were born as attested by King David in Psalm 139 and Job.
"Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. Yet these things you hid in your heart; I know that this was your purpose" (Job 10:10–13).
Indeed, who we are here-and-now is a manifestation of God's love, who loved us first from the beginning through His first creative act. This is the deepest Ignatian understanding of love that the retreatant encounters in the Spiritual Exercises—'love ought to manifest more in deeds than in words' but deeds that far exceed one's liberty, memory, understanding and entire will and surpassing what could be desired through one's own. "It is not enough for me to serve God, all hearts must love Him, and all tongues bless Him" (13). That is why, the Suscipe prayer is a prayer that surrenders one's being back to God's fullness-of-being-love-shared. "Infinite Goodness is supremely communicative of its gifts, and Eternal Love is more prompt in giving us holiness than we are in asking for it" (3). God loved us first before we can even open our mouth to ask him for anything. It is not a coincidence then that the last word of the whole of the Spiritual Exercises is the word love in its highest divine expression. The word in ancient Greek is ἀγάπη, agapē, which means, divine love —"not our love for God, but God’s love for us" (1 Jn 4:10). Fr. JM Manzano, SJ

Eighth 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.
Amen.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us.

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