Saturday, February 16, 2013

Two Standards

I was listening to a podcast the other day about the Two Standards mediation from the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.  Before you start thinking I'm knee deep in spiritual exercises, I feel pretty accomplished when I manage to do my reading each day and keep up with the blog.  The podcast was talking about it though and so I looked it up.  You can find the whole thing here.

The idea is that of a standard, or flag.  The standard is the flag one would follow in a battle.  The two standards refer to that of the enemy and that of our Lord.  Which standard will we follow?

We are born into, and tend toward, the army of darkness.  Without God's grace, we'd be trapped there and not have the freedom to choose another employer.  Thanks to Jesus, we can switch sides and join the forces of good.  This is an excellent thing, since we already know which side is going to win!

Of interest to me is how the meditation explains how Satan goes about keeping people in his army or recruiting them back.
The third, to consider the discourse which he makes them, and how he tells them to cast out nets and chains; that they have first to tempt with a longing for riches—as he is accustomed to do in most cases that men may more easily come to vain honor of the world, and then to vast pride. So that the first step shall be that of riches; the second, that of honor; the third, that of pride; and from these three steps he draws on to all the other vices.
This is contrasted later with the plan of Jesus.
The third, to consider the discourse which Christ our Lord makes to all His servants and friends whom He sends on this expedition, recommending them to want to help all, by bringing them first to the highest spiritual poverty, and—if His Divine Majesty would be served and would want to choose them—no less to actual poverty; the second is to be of contumely and contempt; because from these two things humility follows. So that there are to be three steps; the first, poverty against riches; the second, contumely or contempt against worldly honor; the third, humility against pride. And from these three steps let them induce to all the other virtues. 
If we look at what we most often want, what society tells us to want, it is not in the second category.  It is indeed a battle to keep our eyes on the right standard, as it is despised in our world

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