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may be especially mentioned Rule XI. of the summary, in which the members of the Society are directed to abhor entirely, and not merely in part, all that the world loves and sighs for—namely, honours, fame, and a great reputation among men; and to accept and desire with all the powers of their soul, that which Christ our Lord so much loved, and embraced so assiduously—namely, insults, poverty and calumnies."
Nay more, in the general examination of those who seek admission into the Society (cap. iv. § 44 and 45), S. Ignatius expressly desires that they be asked whether they feel within themselves a desire of this kind : "An hujusmodi desideria in se sentiant f And if it should happen that any one, through human frailty and weakness, cannot say that he has yet conceived such a noble desire, the Saint directs that he be asked whether he has at least a desire to entertain such glorious aspirations; and if the candidate answer in the affirmative, he directs that he be further questioned "whether he has resolved, and is prepared to bear patiently, with the grace of God, all the insults, and injuries, and sufferings, which a close imitation of the life of Christ entails" Now if S. Ignatius requires so much from those who are but novices, what ought we not to expect from those who have already advanced so far that they are reckoned among the seniors of the Society!
This, then, is the last degree to which the generous athletes of Christ aspire; a degree so sublime that poor human philosophy never dreamt of it, and which can be enjoyed in all its fulness by the humble alone. Wherefore did the Redeemer say: «, I con fess to Thee, O Father, Lard of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones " (a). This is the best preparation to dispose us for the election of a state—a matter of supreme importance, and one which we shall now apply ourselves to solve in a practical way.
Practical Exercise On The Election Of A State.
First Prelude. Make a lively act of faith in the presence of God, and with it an acknowledgement that you have been created solely to serve Him, after the manner that He shall make known to you.
Second Prelude. Having in humble prayer made known to God the affair about which you are so anxious, beg of Him the graces necessary to do His will.
Third Prelude. Make acts of absolute indifference regarding the choice of any one state in preference to another, keeping steadily in view one object only, the greater glory of God, and the performance of God's will.
"Whosoever is engaged in making choice of a state, should be perfectly recollected during the time that he is occupied in this concern of supreme interest, and he should be entirely dead to every consideration which has not God and heaven for its object" (6).
I. Exercise Of The Will, Called by S. Ignatius the Second Time most favourable for making an Election of State. The soul, being profoundly humbled, and eagerly
(a) Matt. xi. 25. (b) Directory, cap. xxxiii. n. 5.
desirous to discover and to execute the will of heaven, should never cease offering herself to God, repeating every now and again, "Lord, what dost Thou wish me to do? Do you wish me to do this 1 .... or that other thing? Speak, Lord." .... And, meanwhile, one should observe and diligently watch the secret movements of his heart, in regard to those different circumstances, suspending, as far as possible, every exercise of the three powers of his soul, so that he may thus be the better enabled to hear and recognise the voice of God.
And here observe, that should you find yourself prompted by natural inclination to adopt one course in preference to another, you should examine all such interior movements by the rules for the discernment of spirits which we shall just now lay down. 2. But if you feel no such interior movement, you must apply yourself to
II. THE EXERCISE OF THE INTELLECT,
Which S. Ignatius calls the Third Time.
I. Here you must balance the reasons for and against any particular state; its advantages and its disadvantages; the helps that you have reason to hope for, and the obstacles you may justly expect to encounter. Weigh well all these reasons, scrupulously and conscientiously, in the balance of the sanctuary, and then offer them up to the most Holy Trinity, to be approved of or rejected as it shall best please God .
II. This being done, put to yourself the following questions: 1. What advice would I give to a friend on this matter? 2. How would I act myself if I were dying? 3. And if I were about to stand before God's judgment seat? 4. What choice would I wish to have made with eternity in view? When you have thought well on these matters, do that which you would advise another to do, and which you yourself would wish to have done were you at the point of death.
III. One should, however, be careful that "every affection (be it great or small) in regard of the matter to be elected, proceed solely from the love of God" (a), rejecting every consideration which savours of the flesh, or the world, and which does not conduce to, a closer resemblance to Christ, who ought to be your model, as we have seen in the consideration on the third degree of humility. But this does not forbid you altogether to entertain (in a secondary way) a human motive, if it be a good one; such, for instance, as your own spiritual consolation and peace of heart. But your great concern should be, that your election be guided principally by a desire to do that which may conduce most to the glory of God.
IV. Finally, when you have maturely weighed all the motives that could influence your choice and have banished from your heart every unworthy consideration which might possibly warp your judgment, then elect and determine that which you ought to do or leave undone, to reject or to embrace.
III. CONCLUSION OF THE ELECTION.
I. Having thus taken your resolve, conclude the (a) In lib. Exercit.
affair of election, in presence of the whole court of heaven, by protesting before the most Holy Trinity, whose all-seeing eye penetrates the most hidden secrets of your heart, that your choice has been made solely with a view to God's greater glory, and your own greater good. 2. You must offer up your choice to Jesus Christ, through the hands of Mary Immaculate, asking them to witness it, and begging of them to confirm it, and seal it with their blessing. 3. Invite the saints to join you in thanking the Most High, for having made known to you His will, and ask them to obtain from Him the necessary grace to fulfil it. To this end, select one amongst them to be your particular advocate.
II. Afterwards employ yourself in vocal or mental prayer, and be particular in observing whether you receive any new lights or fresh impulses of grace to confirm you in your resolution, or to induce you to alter it. If you find that you are but the more confirmed in it, you may take this as a proof that your election was a good one. Should the result of your prayer suggest an opposite conclusion, then you must examine whether the interior movements you have experienced proceed from the Spirit of Light, or from the spirit of darkness. If you have reason to believe that they proceed from the evil one, you should not change the choice you have made; but if you have just cause to think that they come from God, you must once more apply yourself to the business of examination. But if nothing remakable has occurred while you were engaged in making your election, you may regard it as a proof that God has been pleased to make his will known to you through the mere operation of the intellect.