As you can see from my previous post ~ I have written my own Principle and Foundation. I was asked to do this as part of my own deepening pilgrimage into the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola. These exercises are also referred to as the EXX. They can be undertaken in a 30 day intense silent Ignatian retreat ~ although I believe this would offer a different pilgrimage experience to that of doing the EXX in daily life, where I will be living in the dynamic of the EXX for between 9 months to 2 years (probably the latter for me) as I want to savour and experience every nook, depth, and cranny of my spiritual experience & life, in the fullest, deepest, and most intense of ways ~ and by doing so ~ living as number 1 disciple in Christ. I began my preparatory exercises a short while back. And although the P & F that I have written is not just purely for the duration of the EXX, (it’s for life) ~ as simple as it is ~ it was no small order.
You see St Ignatius wrote his own P & F at the beginning of the The Spiritual Exercises. And then there are the many number of biographers, translators and contemporary Spiritual Directors who have followed suit by interpreting their own understanding of the Principle & Foundation in their own tongue, and who shared it with us all, for the benefit of transcending the ancient text. I was given the strict instruction that it had to be succinct. Not so easy for my poetic style of writing. But harder still for having to take The original blue-print and make it my own, and without being distracted by so many other versions, having already been exposed to them. There are after all only so many words. For me this meant directly addressing Ignatius’ P & F, where I felt the language, period, and even expression fell short of the fullness of my own desires, and the expression of that desire, for intimacy with God. God whom I continually know is Love & Spirit.
That was so hard.
It was far easier to feel . . . beyond words . . . the fulness of my own living breathing Principle & Foundation, like my prayer, when I have no words at all, but just offer the full weight of my whole being up to Him in absolute fulness and completion and surrender ~ knowing that He in loving intimate Communion with me, meets me in absolute fulness completion and surrender the other way ~ and in that sacred meeting there is no separation ~ no incompleteness ~ only wholeness ~ fulfilment ~ holiness ~ and Love.
But to articulate what others already consider absolute as a Principle & Foundation which underlines the whole of life, was so very difficult. For the past so many weeks, and even less consciously the past two years of my course, I have been grappling with ancient words like indifference, which in Ignatius time and context would have held a different weight, interpretation, slant and understanding to that of the contemporary Catholic understanding and use of the word today.
Today we should not be indifferent to life around us, or indifferent and oblivious to others needs, for this is understood to be uncaring and inhumane. Where as in Ignatius’ time he wanted us to remain indifferent to all things ~ any attachments to any object or state of life he considered disordered ~ but one has to know Ignatius and the life of ‘valour’ and conquest he was living as a royal courtier, who in his deepest heart wanted to break free from serving an earthly king, and from endlessly trying to win the hearts of royal ladies, where the lusts and loves of his earthly conquests left him sooner or later feeling dissatisfied ~ to serving our Lord and Heavenly King whose promise of fulfilment was long-lasting.
Writing the P & F then for me became a battle, of living a rather different life from St Ignatius, to one where I am prematurely cauterised from physical earthly love, because of the historic attitudes and lives of men like St Ignatius and St Augustine ~ Where when I look to Jesus and Magdalene/Mary of Bethany, I see Love overcoming those chauvinistic courtier attitudes ~ a new way ~ where Love alone, both in physical contact and in intimacy of spirit between earthly companions ~ beloveds ~ friends ~ or strangers, becomes the true Principle and Foundation for an intimate spiritual encounter. And through it ultimately Holy Communion with God the Father. For in that very same human earthly exchange, God who is tangibly Love and Spirit, is made manifest. This is ultimately from where my P & F is born.
Each day I have been contemplating a different short piece of scripture ~ twice daily praying the daily examine ~ asking for a grace each day, whilst undertaking the requested task ~ and spending quality time reflecting upon the whole experience.
This week I was out walking in isolation along the rope-walk which runs along side the creek ~ I was to notice God in creation. ~ So I looked for Him in nature ~ in the little flowers ~ the grasses ~ the rich earth ~ the shingle path ~ the yellow fields of rapeseed ~ the ocean ~ the sky etc ~ and as I was walking into the distance I just for one all-seeing moment had an overwhelming feeling that absolutely everything and nothing is God. Not in a lesser head way, like when we should look for God in everyone ~ or even in the hard-to-pin-down overused under-expressed saying that God is omnipresent ~ which often reaches our head and our mouths ~ but not our hearts and our knowing, or our feelings and our senses. But truly this day I knew, and saw, and felt that everything that I could see before my very eyes ~ everything that is before me ~ absolutely everything in my vision, was of God. Truly created ~ and living ~ of His D.N A.
And absolutely everything before me, at that point ~ despite its difference ~ was consubstantial with the Father.
And this revelation filled me with the same warmth, and wholesomeness, and nourishment, and fulfilment ~ and Love ~ as that which I recognise from my deepest most naked, most intimately charged Communion with God. ~ When every eve in deepest most sacred prayer ~ I drift off to sleep with that same holy, aroused, sacred, received feeling ~ held in my Beloveds Arms.