085: Discerning God’s Will with St. Ignatius of Loyola

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Decisions, decisions…

Life holds a lot of options and it’s often hard to know which way to go, especially when it comes to serious, life-changing matters.

Thankfully, we’ve got help.

St. Ignatius of Loyola penned his famous Spiritual Exercises to enable people to discern the spirits – discern God’s will for their lives. And the great thing is that’s it’s not pie-in-the-sky.

It’s super practical and down-to-earth.

In fact, understanding his Exercises can save you a lot of headache and heartache.

So join me and one of the most intelligent and holy priests I know, Fr. Aaron Pidel, SJ, for an in-depth discussion of St. Ignatius and his guide for our lives.

We’re covering:

  • A bit of the (wild and wooly) background of St. Ignatius
  • His massive conversion
  • An overview of the famous Spiritual Exercises
  • How Ignatius allows feelings to come into play without them taking over
  • The massive role of consolations and desolations
  • Practical discernment of God’s will

Given my love of spiritual theology, this is an episode that is extremely close to my heart. I know you’re going to get a lot out of it.

God bless!

Matthew

P.S. I make a BIG announcement at the beginning of the podcast. Here’s a little teaser…

It’s coming! Click here to sign up for the wait list to be notified when it goes live.

P.P.S. I’m heading back to Italy! Join me in March 2019 for an amazing pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, LaVerna, and much, much more!



The Secret to Permanent Focus on God

A lot of people don’t believe me. Can’t say I blame them.

But it’s true.

There actually does come a point in time when a person learns how to focus on God in a way that transcends everything else…and I mean everything.

They’ve discovered the secret to the spiritual life.

As you know, prayer is the foundation of our relationship with God. And the goal of our life of prayer is to attain what St. Paul calls “constant” prayer. (1 Thess. 5)

(A few months ago, I wrote about the essence of “constant” prayer – how it’s like burning embers of love in the depths of our soul that ignite when we enter into “finite” acts of prayer.)

And this “constant” prayer is really the key to perpetual focus on God.

But there’s a problem.

While God is always present, every one of us struggles to maintain contact with Him.

And when you get down to it, this contact can really only be maintained in a couple different ways – either by thought or by love.

That said, only one of them actually works.

Think about it. We can barely make it through an Our Father without being distracted by the most ridiculous things. Trying to think only about God is basically impossible.

But it’s not just that we’re ADD.

There are also legitimate duties of life that demand our attention. You’ve got to focus on work. You’ve got to focus on kids. You’ve got to focus on football.

There’s a lot going on! And it’s downright impossible for us to pay full attention to two things at the same time.

But while constant focus of the mind doesn’t work, constant movement of the heart does.

You see, once the heart falls in love, that love continues even when your mind is occupied with something else. You don’t stop loving your spouse just because you’re focused on fixing the car or doing laundry.

That love is always present. (Unless your wife had to pick up your socks yet again.)

It’s the same in our relationship with God. It’s love that creates constant contact with Him.

The secret to permanent focus on God is to fall more deeply in love with him.

How?

It goes back once again to prayer. The more time you spend with someone as perfect and loving as Our Father, the faster (and more deeply) in love with Him you’ll fall.

But you’ve got to want it. You’ve got to make an act of the will and choose to grow that relationship.

“Prayer is nothing but a desire of the heart,” says St. Augustine. “If your desire is continuous, your prayer is continuous. Do you wish never to cease praying? Then never cease desiring.”

So take a moment and tell God that you want Him above everything else. Tell Him you love Him and that you want Him to help you increase that love…and don’t stop.

God bless you!

Matthew

P.S. I’m heading back to Italy! Join me in March 2019 for an amazing pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, LaVerna, and much, much more!


Check it out here!

How To Achieve Constant Prayer

Did you know that every part of our life is meant to be powered by prayer…everything!

Is that even possible?

Since “with God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26) , the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

How?

Well it starts with what we call “finite prayer.”

A finite prayer is one that has a beginning and an end. It’s active prayer. Examples would the rosary, a litany, or any spontaneous prayer.

But while it has starting and a stopping points, finite, active prayer is meant to lead us to something deeper – habitual, or constant, prayer.

Constant prayer is the name of the game, the golden goose of the spiritual life.

Quoting the ancient monk Evagrius Ponticus, the Catechism states “we have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast constantly, but it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing” (2742, italics mine).

Of course, we’re all familiar with St. Paul’s admonition to “pray constantly” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. As a kid I remember thinking, “Seriously, Paul? Not only are people going to think I’m nuts as I walk around muttering to myself, but multi-tasking is not natural to my gender.”

But before we knock Paul off of his high horse (again), let’s take a moment to see what we he means.

Constant prayer is not an act of prayer, so to speak. Otherwise we’d never be able to focus on our duties in life. It might even be dangerous! (Forget about texting, I’ve nearly wrecked my car on several occasions while attempting the rosary on the freeway.)

So what is Paul talking about?

He’s referring to a permanent attitude, one rooted in trustful surrender and merging of our will to God’s. It’s an inner peace that accepts whatever happens as God’s good will for our life.

Now don’t think he means we just sit back and do nothing. Rather, he means we have to develop an attitude of cheerful compliance founded on the knowledge that what God wants us to experience in life is best.

How do we attain this peaceful, permanent attitude of constant prayer? Again, primarily through finite prayer.

You see, constant prayer is fed by acts of finite prayer which operate on the “surface” of the soul.

Think of constant prayer as glowing embers down in your soul. They’re always hot, but not enflamed, so to speak.

Finite prayers are like little gusts of wind that come down, blowing across these embers, igniting a fire of love in our hearts that bursts into flame.

Finite prayers feed the flame so that we develop a life of constant prayer.

Of course, the reverse is also true.

Constant prayer feeds and fuels our acts of finite prayer so they become more focused and fruitful. And when we can establish a state of constant prayer, submitting ourselves gladly to God’s will, everything we do becomes an act of prayer.

God bless!

Matthew

P.S. I’m leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Jim Caviezel, star of The Passion of the Christ!

We’ll also be joined by Fr. Don Calloway and John Michael Talbot! It’s going to be epic!

CLICK HERE for details!

 

 

P.P.S. If you’d rather go to Italy, I’m heading there on pilgrimage, too!

Join me in March 2019 for a time of deep spiritual renewal and amazing adventure in Rome, Assisi, Orvieto, LaVerna, and much, much more! CLICK HERE for details!