Paths of Love: The Discernment of Vocation

Texts of St. Ignatius of Loyola cited in the book

Here you will find a compilation of the texts of St. Ignatius of Loyola cited or mentioned in the book Paths of Love.

  • Purpose of the Spiritual Exercises

    • The first note is that by this name of Spiritual Exercises is meant every way of examining one’s conscience, of meditating, of contemplating, of praying vocally and mentally, and of performing other spiritual actions, as will be said later. For as strolling, walking and running are bodily exercises, so every way of preparing and disposing the soul to rid itself of all inordinate attachments, and, after it is rid of them, of seeking and finding the divine will as to the management of one’s life for the salvation of one’s soul, we call Spiritual Exercises. (Spiritual Exercises, First note)
  • It is God who must work in the soul during the Spiritual Exercises

    • He who is giving the Exercises ought not to urge him who is receiving them more to poverty or to a promise than to their opposites, nor more to one state or way of life than to another. For although outside the Exercises, we can lawfully and meritoriously urge every one who is probably fit, to choose continence, virginity, the religious life, and all manner of evangelical perfection, still in the Spiritual Exercises, in seeking the divine will, it is more fitting and much better that the Creator and Lord Himself should communicate Himself to his devout soul, inflaming it with his love and praise, and disposing it for the way in which it will be better able to serve him in the future. So he who is giving the Exercises should not turn or incline to one side or the other, but standing in the center like a balance, should allow the Creator to act immediately with the creature, and the creature with its Creator and Lord. (Spiritual Exercises, Fifteenth note)
  • If one is to make a good choice during the Spiritual Exercises, one must first of all be indifferent as regards the different ways of life, or even, be more inclined to follow Christ's way of life.

    • It must first of all be insisted that a person entering upon the elections do so with total resignation of will; and if possible, that he reach the third degree of humility, in which for his own part he is more inclined, should it be for the equal service of God, toward that which is most in accord with the counsels and example of Christ our Lord. (Directory for the Spiritual Exercises, n. 17)
  • More signs are required to choose marriage than to choose religious life

    • Greater signs from God are needed for the commandments than for the counsels, inasmuch as Christ our Lord advises the counsels and points out the difficulty in the ownership of property that is possible in the commandments.( Directory for the Spiritual Exercises, n. 9)
    • Outside the Spiritual Exercises we may lawfully and meritoriously urge every one who is probably fit, to choose continence, virginity, the religious life, and all manner of evangelical perfection. (Spiritual Exercises, n. 15--see above.)
  • The goal of the Spiritual Exercises is mainly to choose a state of life

    • The matter proposed for deliberation is: first, whether the counsels or the commandments; secondly, if the counsels, then whether inside or outside a religious institute; thirdly, if in a religious institute, which one; fourthly, after that, when and how. If it is the commandments, then in what station or manner of life, etc. (Directory for the Spiritual Exercises, n. 22)
  • How a choice of a state of life is to be made

    • Preface

      • In every good election, as far as depends on us, the eye of our intention ought to be simple, only looking at what we are created for, namely, the praise of God our Lord and the salvation of our soul. And so I ought to choose whatever I do, that it may help me for the end for which I am created, not ordering or bringing the end to the means, but the means to the end: as it happens that many choose first to marry, which is a means, and secondarily to serve God our Lord in the married life, which service of God is the end.. So, too, there are others who first want to have benefices, and then to serve God in them. So that those do not go straight to God, but want God to come straight to their disordered tendencies, and consequently they make a means of the end, and an end of the means. So that what they had to take first, they take last; because first we have to set as our aim the wanting to serve God, -- which is the end, -- and secondarily, to take a benefice, or to marry, if it is more suitable to us, -- which is the means for the end. So, nothing ought to move me to take such means or to deprive myself of them, except only the service and praise of God our Lord and the eternal salvation of my soul.
    • Four points regarding the choice to be made

      • First Point. It is necessary that everything about which we want to make an election should be indifferent, or good, in itself, and should be allowed within our Holy Mother the hierarchical Church, and not bad nor opposed to her.
      • Second Point. There are some things which fall under unchangeable election, such as are the priesthood, marriage, etc. There are others which fall under an election that can be changed, such as are to take benefices or leave them, to take temporal goods or rid oneself of them.
      • Third Point. In the unchangeable Election which has already been once made -- such as marriage, the priesthood, etc. -- there is nothing more to choose, because one cannot release himself; only it is to be seen to that if one have not made his election duly and ordinately and without disordered tendencies, repenting let him see to living a good life in his election. It does not appear that this election is a Divine vocation,(15) as being an election out of order and awry. Many err in this, setting up a perverse or bad election as a Divine(16) vocation; for every divine vocation is always pure and clear, without mixture of flesh, or of any other inordinate attachment.
      • Fourth Point. If some one has duly and ordinately made election of things which are under election that can be changed, and has not yielded to flesh or world, there is no reason for his making election anew, but let him perfect himself as much as he can in that already chosen.
      • The first time is when God our Lord so moves and attracts the will that without doubting, or being able to doubt, the devout soul follows what is shown it, as St. Paul and St. Matthew did in following Christ our Lord.
      • The second time is when one gets enough light and knowledge by experience of consolations and desolations, and by the experience of the discernment of various spirits.
      • The third time is quiet, when one considers, first, for what purpose man is born—namely, to praise God our Lord and to save his soul—and desiring this, chooses as a means to this end, a life or state within the limits of the Church, in order that he may be helped in the service of his Lord and the salvation of his soul.
      • I said time of quiet, when the soul is not acted on by various spirits, and uses its natural powers freely and tranquilly.
        If election is not made in the first or the second time, two ways follow as to this third time for making it.
    • First way

      • It contains six Points.

        First Point. The first Point is to put before me the thing on which I want to make election, such as an office or benefice, either to take or leave it; or any other thing whatever which falls under an election that can be changed.

        Second Point. It is necessary to keep as aim the end for which I am created, which is to praise God our Lord and save my soul, and, this supposed, to find myself indifferent, without any inordinate propensity; so that I be not more inclined or disposed to take the thing proposed than to leave it, nor more to leave it than to take it, but find myself as in the middle of a balance, to follow what I feel to be more for the glory and praise of God our Lord and the salvation of my soul.

        Third Point.To ask of God our Lord to be pleased to move my will and put in my soul what I ought to do regarding the thing proposed, so as to promote more His praise and glory; discussing well and faithfully with my intellect, and choosing agreeably to His most holy pleasure and will.

        Fourth Point. To consider, reckoning up, how many advantages and utilities follow for me from holding the proposed office or benefice for only the praise of God our Lord and the salvation of my soul, and, to consider likewise, on the contrary, the disadvantages and dangers which there are in having it. Doing the same in the second part, that is, looking at the advantages and utilities there are in not having it, and likewise, on the contrary, the disadvantages and dangers in not having the same.

        Fifth Point. After I have thus discussed and reckoned up on all sides about the thing proposed, to look where reason more inclines: and so, according to the greater inclination of reason, and not according to any inclination of sense, deliberation should be made on the thing proposed.

        Sixth Point. such election, or deliberation, made, the person who has made it ought to go with much diligence to prayer before God our Lord and offer Him such election, that His Divine Majesty may be pleased to receive and confirm it, if it is to His greater service and praise.
    • Second way (rules for election)

      • It contains four Rules and one Note.

        First Rule. The first rule is that that love which moves me and makes me choose such a thing should descend from above, from the love of God, in such a manner that he who chooses feels first in himself that that love, more or less, which he has for the thing which he chooses, is only for his Creator and Lord.

        Second Rule. The second, to set before me a man whom I have never seen nor known, and desiring all his perfection, to consider what I would tell him to do and elect for the greater glory of God our Lord, and the greater perfection of his soul, and I, doing likewise, to keep the rule which I set for the other.

        Third Rule. The third, to consider, as if I were at the point of death, the form and measure which I would then want to have kept in the way of the present election, and regulating myself by that election, let me make my decision in everything.

        Fourth Rule. The fourth, looking and considering how I shall find myself on the Day of Judgment, to think how I would then want to have deliberated about the present matter, and to take now the rule which I would then wish to have kept, in order that I may then find myself in entire pleasure and joy.

        Note. The above-mentioned rules for my eternal salvation and peace having been taken, I will make my election and offering to God our Lord, conformably to the sixth Point of the First Way of making election. (Spiritual Exercises, nn. 169-187)
  • The first two ways are better, yet the third way (time) of making a choice is surer, and therefore a good way to confirm the previous ways

    • When no decision has been reached in the second mode, or one that is not good in the opinion of the one giving the Exercises (whose task it is to help discern the effects of the good and evil spirit), then the third manner should be resorted to—that of the discursive intellect by means of the six points. (Directory for the Spiritual Exercises, n. 76)
    • During the first and second times of election it is the will that takes the lead, with the intellect following and being led by the will, without any reasoning of its own or hesitation. In the third time, on the other hand, the intellect takes the lead, proposing numerous reasons to the will in order to arouse and impel it to the side it judges to be better. And granted that the movement comes directly from God, there is no doubt that the higher and more excellent way is when it is the will which, under God’s illumination, takes the lead and draws the intellect after it... On the other hand, the third way by means of reflection and reasoning is safer and more secure. (Officially Approved Directory, n. 190; Note that this directory is not immediately Ignatius' own work)
    • These two methods that mark the third time, are to be employed not only when no conclusion has been reached in the second time; but also when a choice has been made, the third time contributes to strengthen and confirm it. For if the soul were certain that the movement of the second time were from God, then without doubt it would have no need to look any further. But since the angel of Satan sometimes transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14), this should be the general rule, that it is very dangerous, when a man wishes to govern himself only by movements of the will, and certain inner feelings, without adding appropriate consideration. And therefore there should be a testing and examination by means of the light; for as the Apostle says, “all that is made manifest, is light.” Now this light, after the light of faith, is also human reason itself (helped and enlightened, of course, by the light of faith), which is itself from God, and one cannot contradict the other, since truth is necessarily consistent with truth.( Officially Approved Directory, n. 203).
  • Discernment of Spirits

    • I presuppose that there are three kinds of thoughts in me, namely: one which is my own, which springs from my mere liberty and will; and two others, which come from without, one from the good spirit, and the other from the bad. (Spiritual Exercises, n. 32)
  • Rules for the Discernment of Spirits

    • The first rule: It is proper to God and to his Angels in their movements to give true gladness and spiritual joy, taking away all sadness and disturbance which the enemy causes. To the latter it is proper to fight against such spiritual gladness and consolation, bringing apparent reasons, subtleties and continual deceptions.
    • Second rule: It belongs to God our Lord alone to give consolation to the soul without any preceding cause, for it is the property of the Creator to enter, go out, and cause movements in the soul, bringing it all into love of his Divine Majesty. I say without cause, that is, without any previous perception or knowledge of any object through which such consolation would come, through one’s acts of understanding and will.
    • Third rule: With cause, as well the good Angel as the bad can console the soul, for contrary ends: the good Angel for the profit of the soul, that it may grow and rise from good to better, and the evil Angel, for the contrary, and later on to draw it to his damnable intention and wickedness.
    • Fourth rule: It is proper to the evil Angel, who forms himself under the appearance of an angel of light, to enter with the devout soul and go out with himself: that is to say, to bring good and holy thoughts, conformable to such just soul, and then little by little he aims at coming out drawing the soul to his covert deceits and perverse intentions. 
    • Fifth rule: We ought to note well the course of our thoughts, and if the beginning, middle and end is all good, inclined to all good, it is a sign of the good Angel; but if in the course of the thoughts which he brings it ends in something bad, of a distracting tendency, or less good than what the soul had previously proposed to do, or if it weakens or disquiets or disturbs the soul, taking away the peace, tranquility and quiet which it had before, it is a clear sign that it proceeds from the evil spirit, enemy of our progress and eternal salvation.
    • Sixth rule: When the enemy of human nature has been perceived and known by his serpent’s tail and the bad end to which he leads on, it helps the person who was tempted by him, to look immediately at the course of the good thoughts which he brought him at their beginning, and how little by little he aimed at making him descend from the spiritual sweetness and joy in which he was, so far as to bring him to his depraved intention; in order that with this experience, known and noted, the person may be able to guard for the future against his usual deceits.
    • Seventh rule: In those who go on from good to better, the good Angel touches such soul sweetly, lightly and gently, like a drop of water which enters into a sponge; and the evil touches it sharply and with noise and disquiet, as when the drop of water falls on the stone.
    • And the above-said spirits touch in a contrary way those who go on from bad to worse.
      The reason of this is that the disposition of the soul is contrary or like to the said Angels. Because, when it is contrary, they enter perceptibly with clatter and noise; and when it is like, they enter with silence as into their own home, through the open door.
    • Eighth rule: When the consolation is without cause, although there be no deceit in it, as being of God our Lord alone, as was said; still the spiritual person to whom God gives such consolation, ought, with much vigilance and attention, to look at and distinguish the time itself of such actual consolation from the following, in which the soul remains warm and favored with the favor and remnants of the consolation past; for often in this second time, through one’s own course of habits and the consequences of the concepts and judgments, or through the good spirit or through the bad, he forms various resolutions and opinions which are not given immediately by God our Lord, and therefore they have need to be very well examined before entire credit is given them, or they are put into effect. (Spiritual Exercises, nn. 329-36)
  • The more good something is, the readier we should be to choose it

    • May the sovereign grace and everlasting love of Christ our Lord ever be our help and support.
    • The greater a good is, the readier we should be to choose it; and once chosen, the greater should be our delight in it. And when this relish and delight is spiritual and eternal, there can be no reason for finding sadness or uneasiness in it. And this is true whether the joy belong to us or to our neighbor. Union of will between the creature and the Creator is the greatest good in this life, but it becomes much greater and a possession without end in the vision of the life to come. A good such as this last must be the object of our choice, preference, and desire, and must be accepted when it is offered by the Giver of all good, because it means the end of all our ills, the endless plenitude of grace and glory, and the ultimate expression of God's will. (Letter 131)
  • It seems that sometimes one is strictly obliged to follow a vocation

    • Not everyone can be a religious. The Lord says, “He who can take it, let him take it” (Mt 19:12), giving to be understood that there are some who cannot, and that those who can take it, if they want to be perfect, or in a certain sense even if they want simply to be saved, are obliged to take it, for it appears to be a precept inasmuch as he says, “He who can take it, let him take it”—in a case where they judge that they would be unable to keep the law of God our Lord in the world, or where the obviousness of their calling obliges them to follow it. (Directory dictated to P. Vitoria, n. 21).

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