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

DAY XIV: Humble Earthworms Glorify God (July 31)

St. Ignatius of Loyola
by Camillo & Giuseppe Rusconi c. 1733,
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican
Fourteenth Rule of the Discernment of Spirits: The conduct of our enemy may also be compared to the tactics of a leader intent upon seizing and plundering a position he desires. A commander and leader of an army will encamp, explore the fortifications and defenses of the stronghold, and attack at the weakest point. In the same way, the enemy of our human nature investigates from every side all our virtues, theological, cardinal, and moral. Where he finds the defenses of eternal salvation weakest and most deficient, there he attacks and tries to take us by storm. (SE 327)

Jesuit Obedience From Hearing

If there is one word that could summarize who a Jesuit is, it is 'obedience'. The genius of St. Ignatius as founder of the Society of Jesus, which has remained intact for half a millenium, is found in cultivating the virtue of obedience as the mother of all virtues, e.g., theological, cardinal, and moral. Where he finds the defenses of human nature weakest and prone to attack by the evil spirit, he buttressed by sacred obedience to God. For St. Ignatius himself, "it is the noblest, more excellent than all victims and sacrifices, daughter of humility, nurse of charity, companion of justice, most beautiful guide and mistress of all religious virtues, mother of concord and of brotherly kindness, a safe and calm harbour, a perpetual and delicious banquet for the soul."

'Obedience' comes from two Latin roots, 'audire' and 'ausculta' [Also rendered 'obsculta', the very first word of The Rule of St. Benedict that cultivated the seed of Western civilization]. It has scriptural origin in Jesus' words, 'qui habet aures audiendi audiat'—'he who has ears to hear shall hear' (Mk 4:9). It is a command that could be answered with 'yes', 'no' or 'not yet'. Like the parables of Jesus, it is addressed to a person who is ready with 'ears to hear', and when ears are ready to hear, God will appear. For St. Ignatius, a Jesuit is that kind of person who commits through a vow to listen up and to obey until his dying day.

"I am willing that other Religious Orders should surpass us in fastings, in vigils and in other bodily austerities which each of them practises holily according to the spirit of its Rule. But, in what concerns the purity and perfection of obedience, the sincere abandonment of our will into the hands of the Superiors, and the renunciation of our judgment, I earnestly desire that those who serve God in this Society should not be surpassed by any one, but that they should signalize themselves by the practice of this virtue, and that this may be the distinctive feature by which the true and legitimate children of the Society may be distinguished from such as are not so."
Who commands and what is the command?
Jesus commands and the command is to follow the Lord in giving Him greater glory. St. Ignatius says, "If, of all kinds of life, the noblest in our eyes should be that in which one renders most glory to God, and in which one serves Him most perfectly, it necessarily follows that that manner of life excels all others, in which one gives to God the offering of public obedience: because, there is no sacrifice sweeter nor more pleasing to the Supreme Majesty than obedience, as Holy Scripture affirms. He who, together with the worship of the will, submits to God the will itself and the understanding, which are what is greatest in human beings, undoubtedly makes an offering to God more precious than he who, whatever else he may offer, does not give these two faculties."

What does Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam mean?
A blade of grass is sufficient, i.e., the lowest of the creatures which meet his eye, in order to be wrapt in ecstasy. Ignatius needed only the sight of a flower or the song of a bird to be instantly inflamed with the love of God. That is how he found God in everything—a God being glorified even in the work of the littlest of creatures, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (for God's greater glory).

Humble Earthworms Glorify God
The survival and sustainability of the homo sapiens is, as J Arthur Thomson points out, utterly dependent on the labors of the humble earthworm. Without their humble devotion in aerating the dense and arid soil on which we stand, there never would have been a single field of vegetation. Let us pause to meditate on how earthworms have given glory to their Creator. Without doubt they are clearly one of the most useful among all creatures. They too hear and obey. Day in and day out, having 'ears to hear', they burrow to loosen and condition the earth for raindrops and plant roots to travel, and foot to trample. To cultivate the soil, they break down organic matter into smaller and more useful particles that could fit into the mouth of billions of microscopic living forms in their backyard. They were the first frontline ploughers way before the plough was invented. Quietly throughout the year they give birth to a living soil, a couple of tons worth or an elephant's weight, passing through the hundred thousand tender guts of their members. Who among us would be able to boast as much? Fr. JM Manzano, SJ

Readings for the feast: 
Brothers and sisters: Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. Avoid giving offense, whether to Jews or Greeks or the Church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1).
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-33).