Mary’s School of Sanctity
St. Ignatius says,
Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God Our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. All other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him fulfill the end for which he is created. From this it follows that man is to use these things to the extent that they will help him to attain his end. Likewise, he must rid himself of them in so far as they prevent him from attaining it.
Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, in so far as it is left to the choice of our free will and is not forbidden. Acting accordingly, for our part, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short one, and so in all things we should desire and choose only those things which will best help attain the end for which we are created.
In our last lesson we considered the end of man, which is to give glory to God Our Creator. (This end is set forth in the first paragraph above.) We discussed how one can meditate on this first paragraph examining what service we owe to God Who is so great and good to us.
Now we will consider the rest of the first paragraph concerning our proper use of creatures, and the second paragraph which pertains to the holy detachment that God wants us to have concerning creatures. Basically, Lesson #10 is the first part of the meditation on the Principle and Foundation, and this current Lesson #11 is the second part of the same meditation on the Principle and Foundation.
This meditation is so rich in materials for consideration that this second part can be addressed in two subparts. As we mentioned before, in Lesson #10, this meditation on the Principle and Foundation is so extremely important for our salvation that we can meditate upon it very often. This is because St. Ignatius’s principle here must set the tone for our entire outlook on life.
But how does one meditate on these two Ignatian paragraphs quoted above? By carefully analyzing St. Ignatius’s two paragraphs to find out what he means. By analyzing what he says and applying what he says to our own conduct, we can learn about ourselves and what our priorities have been in our life so far. We can also learn to amend our priorities as needed in order to serve God in a way that is most pleasing to Him. St. Ignatius has us begin by studying creatures, the use of which, are a means to our eternal salvation (and the misuse of which, to our everlasting damnation).
There are many aspects that we can discuss concerning man’s usage of creatures. We know from the Book of Genesis that creatures were created for the needs and use of man. Man was given dominion over all the material creatures. We must not forget that besides these creatures, there are immaterial creatures, e.g., time and the angels. Even though man does not have dominion over time or the angels, he can still make use of them. St. Ignatius says above, “All other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him fulfill the end for which he is created.”
Creatures help man attain his last end.
Creatures help man in the following ways:
❖ by instruction,
❖ by example,
❖ by use,
❖ by sacrifice, and
❖ by being a source of crosses.
They help man by instruction because creatures show us God’s omnipotence when we consider them. Creatures show how great God is by their vastness and variety, their beauty, and their order. We can clearly see God’s greatness and majesty. We can likewise see how we owe God praise for His wondrous works of nature.
They help by example because they faithfully serve God by doing what He intended for them to do. We see that we need to do the same.
They help by use because we obviously need to use them to sustain our life and our duties, e.g., for health, nourishment, and strength.
They help by sacrifice because man can use them in the practice of religion and as objects of self-denial when man offers up using them as a means of detachment and penance.
They help by being the source of crosses, e.g., sicknesses, accidents, etc. 
We can examine how we have used creatures.
Unfortunately, we do not use creatures as we should. This is precisely because we do not keep St. Ignatius’s rule in mind that if the creature is not good for our eternal end, we should reject it. Is this because we simply do not take our last end seriously enough? St. Ignatius would say, “Yes!” We tend to yield to our passions which seek sensual comforts. Here are some questions to keep in mind when assessing how well we have used creatures:
➢ What view do I take of creatures?
➢ Do I perhaps look upon them as my property, of which, as a master, I can dispose at pleasure and not as a benefice or alms from God?
➢ Do I regard them as an end, and not merely as a means to reach my end?
➢ Do I consider them as “talents” of the use of which I must give an exact account to my Lord and Creator?
➢ What rule or direction do I follow in the use of creatures?
➢ Do I use them simply at my pleasure?
➢ Do I allow myself to be led by sensuality?
➢ Do I adhere to St. Ignatius’ words “he must rid himself of them in so far as”? That is, do I reflect whether they are useful or hurtful to my calling, to my destiny [or duty of state]?
➢ Do I ask myself what good I derive from all the disagreeable happenings that befall me, since God permitted them especially for my benefit or straightway sent them Himself?
In the light of this meditation, we come to realize that we are guilty of manifold abuses of creatures. Let us repent of it; and in the future let us plan and strive to use the world round about us to our true spiritual advantage. “To them that love God, all things work together unto good!” [Romans 8:28]
What St. Ignatius means by Holy Indifference.
Now let us delve into what St. Ignatius teaches us in his second paragraph (quoted above). He wants us to grasp the concept of holy indifference to creatures. We must use our reason, led by our Faith, so that all we do and all of the choices we make are pleasing to God, and will lead to our salvation.
God put creatures in our lives as means to be used in His service, to be conducive to our salvation and not to be a hindrance. We must consider each creature we come in contact with and use it appropriately. In order to do this efficaciously, we must be detached from creatures. “For if we are inclined to one thing or to another beforehand, and are too much attached to it, then this too-great attachment will hinder us from readily giving ourselves up to do what reason, Faith, and God command.”
For if our calling is to serve God, and creatures are but means to this end, reason demands that in the choice and use of them we should not be determined by their beauty and attractiveness, but solely by their usefulness as means to an end.
Hence, we should not be predisposed in favor of any creature, because this predisposition has an influence upon our choice and misleads us to make imprudent selections. We must cut loose from creatures and be free from bias, so that only their adaptability or the will of God may be the guide in our selection of them.
We do not accept the sufferings and difficulties that God permits in our lives or we generally do not accept them with perfect unselfishness. The reason for this is that we lack indifference. We must want to do God’s Will. When something happens to us which is beyond our control, then we know it is the Will of God for us. God wants us to accept events in a truly sacrificial manner and without complaint. Furthermore, He expects us to use our reason in dealing with circumstances.
A religious complained to St. Francis de Sales about the many crosses she had to carry. “Do you know how the cross is made?” asked the saint. “Take two little pieces of wood, lay one parallel upon the other – no cross. But lay one piece across the other and the cross is made. So in like manner when our will conforms to the Will of God – when it is opposed to the Will of God, when we murmur and complain – the cross is ready. If we wish to escape the cross, then we must conform our will to the Will of God.
We practice this indifference by accepting circumstances which are out of our control and by keeping ourselves detached from creatures, not complaining if they are taken from us. In this way we acknowledge that our lives and everything in them are in the Hands of God and we simply trust in His Providence. We remind ourselves that, “For to them that love God all things work together unto good.”
The advantages of indifference
Some basic advantages for practicing holy indifference are:
· true peace;
· joy; and
· the practice of virtue becomes easy.
The mind so disposed with indifference has true peace and permanent rest of the heart. For, come what may, it recognizes in all things the Will of God, and by doing that will it attains to its destiny.
It has not only peace but joy, for we know that “all things work unto good for those that love God,” so that from all things we can derive advantages.
This disposition of mind makes easy our efforts to acquire virtue and perfection. When our attachment to creatures is excessive, it becomes more difficult to make the sacrifice which God’s service calls for.
We can examine our level of indifference
❖ About what do I principally complain and murmur? There, indifference is wanting; when we murmur about something, we can say to ourselves: “I caught myself in the act of being too attached to a creature”.
❖ Is my will prepared for all that God is likely to ask of me, or to choose for me? (However, don’t waste time daydreaming about every possible situation God might send to us.)
❖ Is my heart too passionately attached to something, to a creature, to an occupation, to an office or position, so that the separation would be at the cost of a hard struggle? I will begin even now to disengage my heart, that the possible sacrifice be not too bitter for me.
Now that we have examined St. Ignatius’s concept of holy indifference and how we certainly need to improve in using it for our sanctification, we must not think we are finished with the work of self-reflection.
Some additional questions we can use to examine our use of creatures
Here are some additional points of self-reflection:
➢ How am I using creatures?
➢ What is my attitude toward creatures – from the lowest – air, food, clothing, shelter; to the highest angels, saints and the Queen of Angels and saints?
➢ Am I using all of these creatures well and in the manner in which God intends?
➢ Do I view the lowest creatures for what they really are, or do I use them as if they are something higher than what they are?
➢ How do I use Mary? She is a special creature and gift of God created to help me. Do I consult with her? Do I ever talk with her throughout the day and ask her help to reason better?
All of these points and the self-examining questions posited here are the heart of the meditation on the Principle and Foundation. In fact, this meditation is a reflection upon what we owe to God in justice and how we ought to serve Him. A crucial part of the service we owe to God is how we are employed in using the creatures that He put at our disposal. Thus, this meditation involves a self-examination in how well we are doing what we ought to do.
When we do this long two-part meditation, it is best to focus on the point or aspect that strikes us the most and sparks a real flame in our soul. This spark of desire is meant to help us tell God that we love Him and to tell Him that we need His all-powerful assistance.
The fruit of this meditation is the heart-to-heart talk that we have with God. We may find ourselves making all four kinds of prayer, adoration, thanksgiving, reparation, and petition.
We close our meditation time with some prayers of thanksgiving to God for assisting us in our meditation and with making firm resolutions to use creatures better in the future and/or in practicing holy indifference.
Of course, we should not forget to write down any insights given to us and to examine how much effort we put into our meditation.
In our next lesson we will discuss St. Ignatius’s 1st exercise on sin.
 Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, pages 9-15.
 Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, pages 16-17.
 Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 17.
 Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 21.
 Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 22.
 Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 23.
 Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 24.
 Considerations taken from Sketches for the Exercises of An Eight Days’ Retreat by Hugo Hurter, SJ., Ph.D., D.D., Professor Emeritus of Theology in the Catholic University of Innsbruck, ©1918, third edition 1926, St. Louis, MO and London, page 25.