Catholic Candle note: Lesson 19 (below) is the latest lesson in this series. Prior articles in this series can be found here:
Mary’s School of Sanctity
Lesson #19 The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius – ON THE CALL OF CHRIST THE KING [also called The Kingdom of Christ]
At this time, we bring our attention back to the content of the actual Spiritual Exercises. As we mentioned in the introduction to the structure of the Spiritual Exercises in Lesson#5, St. Ignatius sets out his exercises to be done over a month’s time. We now enter into the Second Week of St. Ignatius’s plan. We are going to be undertaking the meditation entitled The Call of Christ the King, one of the most famous meditations of St. Ignatius. As we stated earlier in these lessons, under normal circumstances, we would have at this point of the retreat made a general confession.
Thus, by this means, we have girded our loins and taken the breastplate of justice. St. Ignatius, having been a soldier once himself, has us consider Our Lord as on His throne inviting us to join the ranks of soldiers in His Divine army. He is the head of the Catholic army of souls in the Church Militant. Also, we can consider this meditation as a way to bring The Principle and Foundation back to our minds giving us greater zeal in our service of God. With this meditation to strengthen us, we can intensify our resolve to follow Christ in whatever He wills for us.
First, we will give the text of St. Ignatius’s meditation The Call of Christ the King and then expound on the various points one can use for his consideration in doing this present exercise.
St. Ignatius says:
The call of the earthly king helps us to contemplate the life of the Eternal King.
The preparatory prayer is the same as usual, I ask God Our Lord the grace that all my intentions, actions, and works may be directed purely to the service and praise of the Divine Majesty.
The FIRST PRELUDE: St. Ignatius calls this prelude “a mental picture of the place”. Here we will see in our imagination the synagogues, villages, and towns where Jesus preached.
The SECOND PRELUDE: I will ask for the grace that I desire. Here it will be to ask of Our Lord the grace that I may not be deaf to His call, but prompt and diligent to accomplish His most holy will.
The FIRST POINT: I will see in my mind a human king, chosen by God Our Lord Himself, to whom all princes and all Christians pay reverence and obedience.
The SECOND POINT: I will consider how this king speaks to all his subjects, saying, “It is my will to conquer all infidel lands. Therefore, whoever wishes to come with me must be content to eat as I eat, drink as I drink, dress as I dress, etc. He must also be willing to work with me by day, and watch with me by night. He will then share with me in victory as he has shared in the toils.”
The THIRD POINT: I will consider what the answer of good subjects ought to be to such a generous and noble king, and consequently, if anyone would refuse the request of such a king, how he would deserve to be despised by everyone, and considered an unworthy knight.
The second part of this Exercise consists in applying the example of this earthly king to Christ Our Lord, in these three points:
The FIRST POINT: If we heed such a call of an earthly king to his subjects, how much more worthy of consideration is it to see Christ Our Lord, the Eternal King, and before Him, all of mankind, to whom, and to each man in particular, He calls and says: “It is My will to conquer the whole world and all My enemies, and thus to enter into the glory of My Father. Whoever wishes to come with Me must labor with Me, following Me in suffering, he also will follow Me in glory.”
The SECOND POINT: I will consider that all persons who have judgment and reason will offer themselves completely for this work.
The THIRD POINT: Those who wish to show the greatest affection and to distinguish themselves in every service of their Eternal King and Universal Lord, will not only offer themselves entirely for the work, but by working against their own sensuality and carnal and worldly love, will make offerings of greater value and importance saying:
Eternal Lord of all things, I make this offering with Thy grace and help, in the presence of Thy infinite goodness and in the presence of Thy glorious Mother and of all the Saints of Thy heavenly court, that it is my wish and desire, and my deliberate choice, provided only that it be for Thy greater service and praise, to imitate Thee in bearing all injuries, all evils, and all poverty both physical and spiritual, if Thy most Sacred Majesty should will to choose me for such a life and state.
The COLLOQUY: St. Ignatius does not specify any particular colloquy for this meditation. However, the above offering could be made and it is desirable to make it or something similar to it. We should certainly speak to Our Lord and give ourselves completely to Him.
Considerations for the FIRST POINT: a model earthly king.
St. Ignatius wants us to imagine what it would be like if an earthly king who was very noble and virtuous called everyone to help him conquer the Muslims. If this king proposed to conquer the world for Christ and convert the entire world to Christianity, how wonderful it would be if the world truly acknowledged Christ as King!
This type of king is very much like King St. Ferdinand III who lived from 1199 A.D. to 1252 A.D. He was a very pious king who was devoted to Our Lady and was a Third Order Franciscan. He devoted his life to purging Castile and Leon of the Moors. According to Butler’s Lives of the Saints, St. Ferdinand’s body is incorrupt, which is a great reminder to us that God is pleased with those who spend their lives extending the reign of Christ.
Considerations for the SECOND POINT: how the earthly king leads.
In this point, St. Ignatius has us continue to imagine our earthly king who leads us in battle against the enemy. Here again, King St. Ferdinand fits the description that St. Ignatius sets forth above. Here is how Alban Butler describes King St. Ferdinand in the Lives of the Saints:
His whole conduct bore testimony to the truth of his solemn protestation, “Thou, O Lord, Who searchest the secrets of hearts, knowest that I desire Thy glory, not mine; and the increase of Thy faith, and holy religion, not of transitory kingdoms.” He set his soldiers the most perfect example of devotion. He fasted rigorously, prayed much, and wore a rough hair-shirt made in the shape of the cross; often spent whole nights in tears and prayers, especially before battles, and gave to God the glory of all his victories. In his army he caused an image of the Blessed Virgin to be carried, and wore another small one on his breast, or sometimes when on horseback placed it on the pommel of his saddle before him.
King St. Ferdinand III led his knights into battle. He fought fearlessly at the head of his army. His men felt drawn on by zeal and were willing to follow him into the direst circumstances. He won victory after victory, even when he was greatly outnumbered by the Moors. There was an occasion in which it was testified by his men that St. James the Apostle, appeared at the head of the troops in the armor of a knight. In this particular battle only eleven lost their lives—one a knight who had refused to forgive an injury, and ten additional soldiers.
King St. Ferdinand won back lands which had been in the hands of the Moors for five hundred and twenty years.
He gave the spoils of war to the Church. For example, he rebuilt the cathedral of Toledo. He purified the churches and places which had been desecrated by the Moors and established bishoprics in many places.
What is clear from the account of King St. Ferdinand III was that he fought valiantly with his whole heart for God, and God was with him. This king never once was wounded in battle. God gave him victory upon victory.
Considerations for the THIRD POINT: who would not follow such a leader?
With a heart throbbing for the conversion of the heathen and the restoration of the Church’s properties, who would not burn inside to attach himself to such a noble king? This earthly king, by his example of dedicated love of the Faith and Holy Mother Church, would and should spur us on to die for Christ and His Church. His zeal would almost seem contagious and irresistible in its intensity. Would we not long to follow him with confidence in his strength and power? When we saw his tremendous victories, we would not doubt that he was a man to follow. What remarkable leadership! What remarkable virtue! And oh how ashamed we would feel if we did not take up arms and follow such a man! We would have the deep guilt of having shirked our duty and our life-long vocation of the salvation of our souls. Who could bear such shame and ignominy of deserting such an upright king and mission?
Now let us turn to the second part of this meditation where St. Ignatius wants us to apply what we considered about the worthy earthly king to the Divine King of kings, Our Lord Himself.
Considerations for the FIRST POINT: Our Lord Himself calls us to His service.
In this meditation, St. Ignatius is telling us that we must follow Christ for He is truly calling all of us into His ranks. This meditation may be seen as a call to the religious life, but, in fact, it is a call to be entirely in God’s service. It harkens back to the Principle and Foundation because this meditation reminds us that we were created to be in God’s service and use this wonderful service to save our immortal souls.
So, in this first point, we consider how, indeed, Our Lord Himself calls us to follow Him. He says plainly to us in St. Matthew’s Gospel, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” [Matt. 16:24]
See in the following quotes how He beckons us to follow Him lovingly!
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth Me. [John 14:21]
Come to Me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is sweet and My burden light. [Matt 11: 28-30]
He truly wants us to follow Him in everything. He wills to be Our Shepherd and to lay down His Life for us. He not only wants to show us how He willed to honor His Heavenly Father by His death, but He also wants us to realize that He is setting us an example of sacrificing Himself completely for love of God.
Thus, He wants us to know that we must be willing to follow Him in this way too, namely, unto death. Listen to what He tells us in the following quotes:
If the world hates you, know ye, that it hath hated Me before you. [John 15:18]
Remember My word that I said to you: the servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you: if they have kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake: because they know not Him that sent Me. [John 15: 20-21]
They will put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God. [John 16:2]
By these weighty words Our Lord is telling us that we must be willing to follow Him in every aspect of our lives. He will take care of us and we must not feel overwhelmed because the Paraclete will be with us to guide us.
He wants us to be apostles of the truth and spread His Kingdom. We must be able and willing to teach Catholic Faith and Morals. We must teach this primarily by our examples – to truly live a Catholic life during the neo-pagan times in which we live.
Are we the Catholics He desires us to be? Are we willing to undertake the work of being true apostles of Christ? Do we have apostolic zeal for the spread of His Kingdom and the salvation of souls? Are we willing to be an outcast for love of Him? Are we willing to stand up for Him and Truth?
This brings us to the consideration in the next point— who exactly is called? Is this point for those with a religious vocation only?
Considerations for the SECOND POINT: Every Catholic is expected to heed Christ’s call.
Since the Principle and Foundation applies to us all, it makes sense that Our Lord is indeed calling all of us into His service. He is Our Creator, Our Father and Provider, Our Redeemer, Our Beloved, and Our Judge. We owe Him everything. Our Lord says, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Me.” [John 14:6]
However, we must keep in mind that He lovingly invites us. Here is how Fr. Hurter, S.J. in his Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat explains this invitation:
What is the form of the invitation? Our Divine Redeemer does not stand on His well-grounded rights, He does not force, He does not threaten with thunder and lightning those who hang back. He appeals to the heart: He appeals to our generosity; He invites us. To what does He invite us? To the grandest undertaking we can think of: To spread the kingdom of God upon earth; to glorify His Holy Name, to build up the Church of God, which shall stand invincible against all the attacks of hell: “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her”
Both religious and laity are called to be apostles of Christ and His Church. Fr. Hurter brings forth another noteworthy point for our apostolate. We give his point as follows:
And what are the conditions which He lays down? He asks of us no more than He Himself has done; no greater privations than those He took up Himself; no obedience more difficult, no humility more profound, no cross more painful than He Himself submitted to. He was the Son of God, the Lord of the world, the Innocent, and all that He did was for us. When we come down to reality, He is satisfied with much less, with the tenth part of what He Himself has done, even with a mere shadow of it. For such humility, such poverty, such obedience as He practiced, He does not ask us for.
We cannot be indifferent to His Kingdom and the spread of the Kingship of Christ. If we are truly the friends of Christ, we must love to bring souls to Him. However, if we hunger to bring souls to Him, we sense the real need of beginning with the perfection of our own souls. So St. Ignatius impels us to dig deeper and to work harder on the perfecting of ourselves. In his third point, he raises the bar of what we should expect from ourselves. We must desire our own sanctification. Let us consider this higher calling alluded to in the third point.
Considerations for the THIRD POINT: Our Lord wants everyone to follow Him, if not in actual poverty in the religious life, then in at least spiritual poverty.
In this third point, St. Ignatius seems to be tying the first two points together for the sole purpose of urging us to strive for high perfection. We know that the religious life is the best means to achieve the highest perfection; however, St. Ignatius wants us to realize that the laymen are also called to perfection. He is encouraging the laity to live a life of mortification because this is necessary even for laymen in order to come to the perfection which Christ wants for each of us. In order to have the deepest friendship and mystical marriage with Christ, which is Our Lord’s plan for every member of the Elect, we must not put any obstacle in His way.
“I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one cometh to the Father but by Me.” [John 14:6]. By these words, Our Lord shows us that we must wage an interior battle with our own flesh in order to master our lower nature and to be His devoted friend and fellow laborer in the field, winning souls for Heaven.
This is why St. Ignatius tells us that we must be willing to distinguish ourselves in a special service of Our Lord. We must be willing to literally give everything up for Him and be detached from everything in order to give ourselves interiorly and exteriorly to Him. Thus, we must fight the battle against ourselves and bring our passions into subjection. Bearing this complete detachment in mind, we then lovingly root out our disorderly self-love which so often manifests itself in our passions.
Because we cannot help others to come to the Faith if we are not properly disposed ourselves, St. Ignatius reminds us to work hard on our own perfection.
Fr. Hurter explains this concept of properly disposing ourselves when he says:
In saving souls, we are but instruments in the hands of God. But the force of the master enters sooner and more perfectly into the instrument, the better it is adapted to the artist and, as it were, coalesces with him. We shall be more useful, docile, and pliable as instruments in the hands of Our Divine Savior if there be less in us that resists Him. That is, we must mortify and deaden within us all that is opposed to God, viz., our evil passions and disorderly self-love.
In the light of all these considerations of how Our Lord is inviting our souls to Him in true friendship, we should be very willing to repeat the prayer that St. Ignatius gives us above (in his third point, in the introduction of this meditation). We should give Our Lord our entire selves to use as He sees fit. If He wants us to have actual poverty, then we embrace His will. If He is not causing us actual poverty, then we tell Him that we will heartily embrace the spirit of poverty. With this resolution we can imitate Him as He desires us to do.
COLLOQUY: Oh, dear Lord how can I thank Thee for such a loving invitation to follow Thee in all things, yes, even to death for love of Thee? Oh, allow me to have the strength to conquer my inordinate self-love so I can give myself entirely to Thee without reserving anything for myself!! I repeat the words that St. Ignatius gave above. Indeed, it is my desire to give myself to Thee, to embrace actual poverty if Thou dost wish, and to have a true spirit of poverty so as to imitate Thee my Lord and Master. I want no extravagant life, nothing that would distract me from abandoning myself completely to Thy holy service. Please give me strength to die to myself and not to fear to stand up for Thee and Thy Truth. Be Thou the King of my soul, and this means I will try to show my neighbor that he, too, must have Thee reign in him and in society.
We are now resolved to begin a more earnest and in-depth study of Our Lord and His virtues. Hence, in our next lesson, we will begin our study by doing what St. Ignatius refers to as the Contemplation on the Incarnation.
 Since we are living in the time of the Great Apostasy, there are no uncompromising priests, at least in most places. Thus, a general confession is not possible. But we should go through the steps which would have led up to making a general confession, if we had been able to make one.
We should make a very thorough examination and preparation for a general confession which would include making a sin list and telling God that if/when an uncompromising priest should become available, we are most willing to go to confession. We should take these steps with sincere and humble hearts.
We should humbly trust in God and beg His Mercy by trying to make a perfect act of contrition after having performed that thorough examination of conscience for confession.
We must trust in God and practice the virtue of hope. We should be striving with all our hearts to make many acts of contrition as often as we can and make these acts as perfect as we can.
We must have a repentant disposition of mind. We need heartfelt contrition for our sins. The Council of Trent (session 14, chapters 1 and 4) explains that heartfelt sorrow for sins has at all times been necessary to obtain forgiveness of sins.
There are two kinds of contrition: perfect and imperfect. We should always endeavor to make perfect acts of contrition and get in the habit of making them. We have always known that no one is guaranteed the chance to go to confession, but especially now in these times of apostasy; most of us do not have the opportunity.
Perfect contrition consists in being sorry because we have offended God the Supreme Being and Our dear loving Father, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Who is most worthy of our love. We have been so ungrateful to Him, and we must be determined never to commit sin again. We want our love to be as perfect as possible. Of course, we must beg God and our heavenly helpers to help us have a pure motive in our contrition. Our contrition cannot simply be because we are afraid of punishment, for then, our contrition would be imperfect. Perfect contrition involves filial fear and filial love, whereas, imperfect contrition involves servile fear which is simply the fear of punishment.
The effect of perfect contrition is wonderful because it blots out all of the guilt (but not necessarily all of the punishment) due to sins.
 Reference to St. Paul, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth and
having on the breastplate of justice: And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be
able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.” Ephesians, 6:14-16.
 Read these articles here:
 This quote is taken from Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints under May 30th.
 The information about King St. Ferdinand III is taken from Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints under May 30th. and Saint Fernando III, James Fitzhenry, Arz, ©2009.
 Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, S.J., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918; third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, Page 111.
 Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, S.J., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918, third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, Page 112.
Of course, we must realize that Our Lord, being a perfect human being suffered more than we could ever suffer. Nevertheless, He wants us to give Him our absolute best and be as perfect as we can be. One further point we must realize is that the primary reason Our Lord suffered was for the greater honor and glory of His Father.
 Considerations from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, S.J., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, copyright 1918, third edition, 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, Page 118.