What do you desire? This can be a challenging question for us to discern. Is what we desire related to an attachment that may or may not be life giving for us? How is our heart, where God resides, open to notice that God is present to us? How do we come to live our Christian spirituality based in this understanding?
David Fleming, SJ writes about Ignatian Spirituality and says, “it is sometimes called a spirituality for busy people.” He says, “spirituality is a way of living.” As Christians, we would add that our spirituality is influenced by the Gospels, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Fleming also says that “spirituality deals with a faith vision (a way of seeing) ….and its application to our everyday life…”.
When the initial question was asked, what do you desire, I was inviting you to explore, through discernment, the multiple options to answer that question. Ignatius teaches us about “A Way to Proceed” and the Extended Ignatian Exercises is one way to experience a lifelong way to proceed and come to know where you and God share the same desires. Many of us desire peace in Ukraine and an end to the war and killing of innocent people. Some desire to know where God is in the pain and joys in our life. Maybe you are experiencing dryness in your prayer life or disillusionment in your life purpose.
The gift God consistently offers us is that He loves us right where we are, and we do not have to earn that love. God loves us in our uncertainty, our pain, our joys, in our disillusionment and in our collective grief. God resides within us and in our humanness, it is we who come and go; yet God is always there telling us each time we return,” I am so glad you are back”.
We are guided by the Spirit to notice the desires that God also desires for us. The more deeply we notice, the richer our relationship with God grows. Then the ”way to proceed” in life is grounded in our relationship with God and all the choices and decisions we make are for the good of our local and global neighbors, our self and they reflect God’s goodness and love. Discernment is not just about making a decision or a choice, it is about relationships, our relationship with God and others in our life. What do you desire? Notice how and where the Spirit is guiding you, inviting you and how God loves you. God loves us so much that he entered our humanness in the person of Jesus. During this Lenten season, we can notice more deeply – with eyes seeing more clearly, a heart opened more softly – what God desires us to desire. What a holy “way of proceeding” in life.
I too listen when the Spirit guides me as I proceed in life. When I was at a one-day retreat titled “Women Working Together to Heal Our Wounded World” one participant shared the one thing she could do for Ukraine and it was this; in the Spirit of Ignatius, she imagined a woman her age with the same number of children and grandchildren as she had and then began praying for this woman and her family, for their safety and for peace. The invitation was presented to all of us at that retreat through the gift of this simple yet profound action and listening to how the Spirit was guiding us all in this global moment of war. This is a profoundly holy “way of proceeding” in life. The Spirit has set the invitation in motion and is waiting for our response. Peace and Blessings!