In the third week of his Spiritual Exerices, St. Ignatius invites us to meditate profoundly on the Passion of Christ. For many it can be helpful to practice various forms of fasting and penance in order to draw deeper into the mystery of Jesus' deep and individual love for each one of us. In the following excerpt from points 210-218, St. Igantius provides us with criteria to do this in an efficacious manner.
Rules to Order Oneself in the Taking of Food
First Rule. The first rule is that it is well to abstain less from bread, because it is not a food as to which the appetite is used to act so inordinately, or to which temptation urges as in the case of the other foods.
Second Rule. The second: Abstinence appears more convenient as to drinking, than as to eating bread. So, one ought to look much what is helpful to him, in order to admit it, and what does him harm, in order to discard it.
Third Rule. The third: As to foods, one ought to have the greatest and most entire abstinence, because as the appetite is more ready to act inordinately, so temptation is more ready in making trial, on this head. And so abstinence in foods, to avoid disorder, can be kept in two ways, one by accustoming oneself to eat coarse foods; the other, if one takes delicate foods, by taking them in small quantity.
Fourth Rule. The fourth: Guarding against falling into sickness, the more a man leaves off from what is suitable, the more quickly he will reach the mean which he ought to keep in his eating and drinking; for two reasons: the first, because by so helping and disposing himself, he will many times experience more the interior knowledge, consolations and Divine inspirations to show him the mean which is proper for him; the second, because if the person sees himself in such abstinence not with so great corporal strength or disposition for the Spiritual Exercises, he will easily come to judge what is more suitable to his bodily support.
Fifth Rule. The fifth: While the person is eating, let him consider as if he saw Christ our Lord eating with His Apostles, and how He drinks and how He looks and how He speaks; and let him see to imitating Him. So that the principal part of the intellect shall occupy itself in the consideration of Christ our Lord, and the lesser part in the support of the body; because in this way he will get greater system and order as to how he ought to behave and manage himself.
Sixth Rule. The sixth: Another time, while he is eating, he can take another consideration, either on the life of Saints, or on some pious Contemplation, or on some spiritual affair which he has to do, because, being intent on such thing, he will take less delight and feeling in the corporal food.
Seventh Rule. The seventh: Above all, let him guard against all his soul being intent on what he is eating, and in eating let him not go hurriedly, through appetite, but be master of himself, as well in the manner of eating as in the quantity which he eats.
Eighth Rule. The eighth: To avoid disorder, it is very helpful, after dinner or after supper, or at another hour when one feels no appetite for eating, to decide with oneself for the coming dinner or supper, and so on, each day, the quantity which it is suitable that he should eat. Beyond this let him not go because of any appetite or temptation, but rather, in order to conquer more all inordinate appetite and temptation of the enemy, if he is tempted to eat more, let him eat less.
One of the hallmarks of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are the advices regarding making a decision, election, or choice, particularly with regards to one's vocation or "state of life". Below they are presented in their entirety: (articles 169-189).
Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
What is Divine Hope?
Just as we saw how every human being has faith, every normal human also has hope. Hope in general is the confident desire of obtaining some future good that is difficult to obtain. Consequently, it is a desire which implies seeking and pursuing some future good that is not yet possessed but wanted. Hope and fear are correlatives. We hope for some future good. We fear a future evil. Hope is confident that..
Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. †
In the spirit of the Gospel we have just read from St. Matthew and in the context of so much that our Savior has been teaching us we should reflect on the virtue of gentleness. As Isaiah foretold of the Savior, He will not break the bruised reed He will not condemn, He will not cry out. Gentleness is written on almost every page of the Gospels describing the Savior. Yet there are certain virtues that are as we might expect popular in certain times. No doubt because they conform with the spirit of those times. By now thousands of volumes have been written on the spirit of our times. And I suppose in the Western world at least, the features that characterize our age are aggressiveness, boldness, a strong, often, ruthless effort to conquer. Since the turn of our present century we have had two devastating world wars that accumulatively have cost more lives lost than in all the previous wars of human history. Surely then the virtue of gentleness scarcely typifies our age. And yet if we are going to be authentic followers of the Master we must be gentle. So we ask ourselves first what is this virtue of gentleness. Then look briefly at our Lord’s teaching about this virtue and His practice of the same and then to apply all of this to ourselves of why we, if we wish to be truly Christ-like, must be gentle.
Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. †
I suggest that we reflect on the virtue of confidence. I doubt if there is any single disposition of soul that we need especially in our day more than confidence. The reason is not far to seek. See there is so much to discourage even the most hardy souls, especially people who are seriously trying to serve God. “Lord”, we ask Him, “What will happen next?” Or as one Bishop wrote to me quoting the prayer that he regularly addresses to God, “Lord how long, Oh Lord, how long?”
St. Ignatius' Spiritual Exercises are considered on of the great treasures of the Church. One of its most well known and helpful parts in the spiritual life are his rules for the discernment of spirits. Below we present them in their entirety.
Introduction to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola
Point #1 - For as strolling, walking and running are bodily exercises, so every way of preparing and (1) disposing the soul to rid itself of all the disordered tendencies, and, after it is rid, to (2) seek and find the Divine Will as to the management of one’s life for the salvation of the soul, is called a Spiritual Exercise.
Point #14 from St. John Paul II's "Dives et Misericorida".
Jesus Christ taught that man not only receives and experiences the mercy of God, but that he is also called "to practice mercy" towards others: "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."120 The Church sees in these words a call to action, and she tries to practice mercy. All the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount indicate the way of conversion and of reform of life, but the one referring to those who are merciful is particularly eloquent in this regard. Man attains to the merciful love of God, His mercy, to the extent that he himself is interiorly transformed in the spirit of that love towards his neighbor.
From the Confessions of Saint Augustine
Whoever I may be, Lord, I lie exposed to your scrutiny
Lord, you know me. Let me know you. Let me come to know you even as I am known. You are the strength of my soul; enter it and make it a place suitable for your dwelling, a possession without spot or blemish. This is my hope and the reason I speak. In this hope I rejoice, when I rejoice rightly. As for the other things of this life, the less they deserve tears, the more likely will they be lamented; and the more they deserve tears, the less likely will men sorrow for them. For behold, you have loved the truth, because the one who does what is true enters into the light. I wish to do this truth before you alone by praising you, and before a multitude of witnesses by writing of you.