Saturday, June 14, 2003

Prayer of St. Ignatius

I haven't posted this prayer in quite a while, but it needs posting periodically.

O Lord, teach me to serve you as you deserve,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To Labor and not to ask for any reward,
Save knowing that I do your will. Amen.

The more I reflect on my various failures at various times, and the more I study the Catechism's teachings on Sin, Confession, and Repentance, the more I conclude that Ignatius' prayer captures the essence of what we are called to do. The Power and the Glory has always spoken to me because it captures much the same thing: the one thing you must always do is keep going. Don't stop, don't stand still.

The biggest enemy is complacency, and the "not to" phrases above are all about complacency. Counting the cost, heeding the wounds, taking a rest: they all ask the same question. "Haven't I done enough for now, Lord? Don't I deserve a little break here?" Can't I just be pleased with what I have done, instead of considering what I haven't? The whiskey priest in the Power and the Glory is shaken out of his lethargy, his constant striving for a better parish hall or a nicer social stratus with which to dine, and sent out into the countryside, fulfilling a duty of which he knows himself to be completely unworthy.

Well, it may be true, and even obvious to the reader, that the priestwas unworthy, but it is probably less obvious that St. Ignatius was equally so. And by the end of the story, the other thing the two had in common was that willingness to keep fighting in spite of it.

Holiness, then, comes not exactly in what you do, but in a sense that you do.


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