Rules rule according to Ignatius



I’m oddly attracted to Ignatian discipline and Catholic tradition. Since my dad went to a Catholic boarding school you could say I am reliving my father’s cloister days. I thrive in highly structured environments. I like rules and Ignatius of Loyola is the Master of rules. He wrote his “Spiritual Exercises” in 1522-1524. That was a pivotal in his life. He had just converted to Christianity and had not received any formal education yet. At the time Ignatius had a raw, uneducated faith. His soul and spiritual was full of passion but still raw material. He was longing for clear guidance and reliable boundaries.

On the 161 pages of the Exercises the word “rules” appears a whooping 121 times. Along the way Ignatius provides prayer schedules, rigid examens and a best of the Bible. His program is designed for thirty days. It is supposed to be a full-time engagement. Most people are not able to take a whole month off to reexamine their lives. That’s why Ignatius was gracious enough to write a rule providing an exception to the rule for busy people. According to the Nineteenth Annotation, “A person of education or ability who is taken up with public affairs or suitable business, may take an hour and a half daily to exercise himself.”

You should give this traditional spiritual exercise a try. Examining yourself, praying, discerning, relating to the Gospel, those are all helpful things to gain some perspective.


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