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to prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honour to disgrace, or a long life to a short one" (a).
Frequently turn over these considerations in your mind, and, at the same time, reflect on the happiness and nobility of that soul which is equally prepared to live in a humble, poor, and afflicted condition, or amid pleasures, riches and honours, according as it shall please God to make known His will to her in the course of these exercises.
In point of fact, the attainment of this state of indifference ought to be the fruit of the first meditation. For, since we have been created by God and for God, we are bound to serve God, and to do so precisely in that manner which He may wish, being absolutely indifferent to every kind of service to which His Divine Majesty may be pleased to call us; so that we would esteem it one and the same thing to be rich or poor, honoured or despised, sick or in good health, living or in our graves, provided that, in any of these conditions, we are thus serving our Creator after the manner which is agreeable to Him.
§111. 1. There are two reasons why S. Ignatius mentions by name these four states of earthly existence, viz.; 1, poverty or riches; 2, honour and disgrace ; 3, health and sickness; 4, a long life and a short one. The first reason is, because it is principally on account of these things that the soul is drawn away from this happy state of indifference, and led towards evil. The second reason is, that all the other obstacles which impede us in the attainment of our last end may be referred to these four,
(a) 1 John ii. 16.
since S. John assures us that " all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life" (a).
Do Dot advance in reply that, since health and life are in themselves two blessings in the order of nature, they may lawfully be coveted, nay more, ought to be jealously guarded ; ro that one may not be indifferent when there is question of them. For, the illustrious Suarez answers, that, although they are goods suitable to our nature, and, as such, legitimate objects of our desires and solicitude, nevertheless, as they ordinarily furnish an occasion of sin to man, or prove an obstacle to his advancement in virtue, it is most expedient to desire them only in so far as they are a help to our greater perfection. Moreover, as we are sometimes called upon to make light of them, and sacrifice them to God, either as a tribute to virtue- or for our greater perfection, we surely ought to extend to them also the feeling of indifference, in order that we may be ever ready to make this sacrifice when occasion requires (b).
2. For the rest, since God has, by the grace of vocation, already made clearly known to Religious the state of life in which He wishes to be served by them, they ought to be no longer indifferent concerning this matter; nay more, they ought to fly from every doubt on the subject as from a most horrible temptation. Having established, then, the fundamental point, that God wishes to be served by us in the holy order to which we belong, we ought to be indifferent only with regard to the manner of
(a) 1 John ii. 16.
(6) De Religione, tom iv. tract 10, lib. 9, cap. 5, dub. 4.
serving God in it, according to the measure of the grace which He has bestowed upon us.
Moreover, since by reason of the condition of our state, we can no longer be indifferent to poverty, or riches, or worldly dignities, inasmuch as we are already bound by our vows to shun them, it remains for us to exercise the spirit of indifference in respect of other objects, viz.—1, Being indifferent to high or low offices in our order (a); to being assistants or professed religious; to being employed in teaching the higher and lower classes, 2, Being indifferent to a rich or a poor college; to a commodious or incommodious dwelling; to being governed by gentle or by harsh superiors ; to living with loveable or with disagreeable companions. 3, Being indifferent to health or sickness; being able to put up with whatever duties may be assigned to us; with our food, with our apartments, with unwholesome air, and such like matters. 4, Being indifferent whether we live a long life, and whether we shorten it by the discharge of the duties imposed upon us by obedience, by labours, by annoyances, and by wearisome journeys. But if, owing to the peculiarity of the circumstances in which he is placed, any one should find these four points ill-suited to his condition, let him offer himself up as prepared with perfect indifference to avoid or to embrace, to suffer or to execute whatever he shall feel that God requires of him during the course of these exercises—placing no limit to the Divine inspirations, admitting no compromise
(a) From expressions used here, and, occasionally, elsewhere throughout this book, it is evident that Father Bellicio wrote primarily for the members of the Society of Jesus, to which he himself belonged. —( Translator.)
between nature and grace, marking out no haltingplace in the path of virtue, but rather generously offering himself as prepared for any lot which his Creator may wish to assign him ; ready, in one word, to mount up to that degree of perfection which God wishes him to attain during the course of these exercises.
Wherefore, for the sake of brevity, I have reduced the four first points of S. Ignatius to the three following, viz.—1, that we should be indifferent to every kind of employment; 2, to every place ; 3, to every condition of health; adding, as a fourth point, indifference to attain, in the state already chosen, whatever degree of perfection God may wish us to reach, or a certain promptitude to avoid or to embrace, to suffer, or to perform everything which God shall require of us in the course of these exercises. Henceforward, adding this point to the other three, I shall call it by the name of degree. I do not deny that the attainment of this state of indifference is, in practice extremely difficult; but I assert that for this very reason the attempt is worthy the ambition of every magnanimous soul; and I add, moreover, that it is your duty to spare no effort towards attaining this state, if you wish to become a perfect religious—a truth of which you will be convinced after you shall have made attentively the following meditation, which has for its subject " The end of the Religious Man".
TO THE READER.
Seculars may substitute for the following meditation the second paragraph of the preceding Lecture, as far as section III. Secular priests, who, in virtue of their vocation, are bound to aim at their own individual perfection, and to procure the salvation of their neighbour, will find the second meditation much more necessary for them than it may at first sight appear; nor need they change anything in it beyond a few circumstances.
On the End of the Religious Man.
The end of the Religious man, whose life is of a mixed kind, consists not only in attending, with the assistance of Divine grace, to his own perfection and the salvation of his own soul, but also in his using every endeavour to procure the perfection and salvation of his neighbour. Hence the end proposed to the members of the Society (of Jesus) is the perfection and salvation of themselves and of others. The excellence, the utility, and the happiness of this end are exceeding great.
I. Its excellence is seen in this :—1. That it was the principal end of the external manifestations of God's power and goodness, or, as theologians say, of the actions of God ad extra—that is, of the Creation, of the Redemption, of the Mission of the Holy Ghost, of the life, the labours, and the death of Jesus Christ —these having been directed principally to the perfection and salvation of the human race. 2. Because,