Dinner last night in Boston was a true blessing. Enjoying a Greek meal with my son and his friends on a perfect summer evening. We told many stories, laughed and listened to each other. I tended to listen more last night. I began meeting these kids three years ago as they entered their first year in college. I recall the aspirations they all shared back then in the class room, on the playing field and upon graduation. Those conversations in 2013 were all about them. Last night as we spoke of the future, it was a bit different. Still centered on themselves, but with an interesting twist. The focus was not on landing the big job in investment banking , but having an opportunity to balance work and life. This morning I started to fill in the blanks. This is what I heard. They desire a fulfilling job within a healthy culture/ environment. Their friendships are a priority, they need the free time to explore friendship. Money will not be the deciding factor on their career choice. I was touched to see the focus from self to others. This is the first in many steps to living a rich life.
After reading today’s Gospel, Luke 13:12-21 , I reflected on our dinner conversation last evening . Jesus tells the parable of the rich man to express his concern about how wealth can be opposed to a good life. I prayed for the boys as well as all kids starting out in life that they may see the dangers of wealth. The attachment to wealth and the belief that our things will save us or make us happy. “The proper use of our goods, for ourselves and others, indicates that we must have the proper orientation—namely, generosity toward others and toward God. It is only when we are rich toward God that we can say to our souls: Relax, all is in order.” -John Martens.
Today is the Feast of Saint Ignatius. A day that holds a special place in my heart. Saint Ignatius was a man that was vain, greedy and controlled by earthly possessions, all the topics today’s Mass will touch on. To think my life changed in the exact spot he surrender himself to God. I thank Ignatius each day for entering my life. A man who taught me about detachement. A man who blessed me with the tools to better understand my deepest desires. Those desires that are deep are what God desires for me. Today’s readings coinciding with this feast day speak to me clearly as I continue on my journey. I would like to leave you with a version of Saint Ignatius’s First Principle and Foundation.
The First Principle and Foundation
(St. Ignatius of Loyola, as paraphrased by David L. Fleming, S.J.)
St. Ignatius begins his Spiritual Exercises with The First Principle and Foundation. While not typically thought of as a prayer, it still contains much that is worth reflecting on.
The Goal of our life is to live with God forever.God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit. All the things in this world are gifts from God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily. As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us to develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal. In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God. Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening his life in me.