Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Spiritual Exercising

I just started rereading St Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises. I am not entirely sure why I am putting myself through this once more, since in the past half dozen tries throughout the past decade or so, I've usually only gotten through the first week. I expect that this is because I'm one of those "commonplace" sincere Christians he mentions, to whom the spiritual director (that would be ME, myself, I, in this case -- you are supposed to have a competent director but I am all I have up in this corner of the Sierra mountains) -- recommends that you stop the exercises after the first week. I don't TELL myself to stop -- I just sort of fade out.

This time I have Father Hardon's book Retreat with the Lord -- along with being a strong homeschooling advocate and a scholar, apparently he was also an excellent retreat director. Here are some articles written by him about Ignatian retreats.

Maybe with his help, and God's grace, I'll get a bit further. I would surely like to.

Kolbe Academy strongly recommends a home retreat for the family each year before starting school. I guess I wrote about this once before. The Ignatian Method of education, according to Kolbe Academy, is based on the principles and goals of the Spiritual Exercises.

As I read through the Exercises, I am trying to see how the ideas and suggestions apply to educational practices and what we are already doing as well as what could be improved (plenty, as always!)

Anyway, this Presupposition struck me again as I read it in the educational light:

let it be presupposed that every good Christian is to be more ready to save his neighbor’s proposition than to condemn it. If he cannot save it, let him inquire how he means it; and if he means it badly, let him correct him with charity. If that is not enough, let him seek all the suitable means to bring him to mean it well, and save himself.
I would think that this would apply to my children, as well. Educating is a relationship-oriented thing -- (that is another Ignatian principle -- that the relationship between the guide/teacher and the student is one of the most important aspects of education) -- and relationships need to be based on a basic charitable trust. This does not mean naivete, or low standards. It means -- well, what it says. You don't try to "catch your child out" misbehaving, or in ignorance. You try to build on what he does well, and you try to support his progress. You try to help him "become what he is."

Just a few pieces of thought I wanted to try to write out to get them out of my head. Rather a lot has been going on here recently. Nothing dramatic, to reassure my friends who are used to Aidan's medical rollercoaster moments -- just lots of Rather Odd Things that make me feel that an angel is stirring the pool, and make me realize that I'm not really the spiritual athlete I would like to be. I'm more of a spiritual armchair quarterback -- I can see what "ought" to be done far more readily than actually put breath and strength and and quick action behind it. And recently, I am even kind of a quiet armchair QB because I'm not even sure how to read the plays or react to them.

Did I ever mention that when Clare, Sean and Kieron were receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation (in odd circumstances -- long story, but it was just a few days after we lost Pope John Paul II and just a day before the conclave ended in the election of Pope Benedict XVI) -- a wind gusted so strongly that it almost blew away the tablecloth of the table that had been spread with the post-confirmation potluck?

I have a bit of the same breathless feeling right now.

Or the time that we arrived in San Francisco following the ambulance of our very ill infant, and Real Learning friends were praying a novena to St Therese of the Little Flowers, and we saw roses everywhere, to the point where Kevin observed wryly that the next thing would probably be a statuary rose dropping off an old building onto our heads when we passed by, just to make sure that we got the message that we were being cared for?

Then, as now, I had the sense of Domine, Non Sum Dignus ( ought it to be "Digna?" in this case?) coupled with an almost eerie sense of gratitude and wonder. But the trick is living that way, not just going back to sit in that default armchair.

  • I just finished writing out Clare's high school transcript and helping her proofread her application essay, a milestone indeed and a sort of closing punctuation mark to a first book of her life, and perhaps that's part of it.
  • Perhaps also that the coach nicknamed Sean "Scholarship" today, and that he made the west coast Ultimate 100, one of only a few 8th graders to do so. My feelings here are so mixed up I can't even sort them out. But it's only 6 or 7 weeks until he starts school.
  • And that tomorrow, my second son reaches the age of twenty and is becoming a fine young man, who works hard quietly behind the scenes, thinks deeply, and looks for ways to be of aid.

So, there are winds of change. But part of the windswept feeling is that though I feel like I'm standing still, being sedentary, things are moving so fast that my breath is far away by the time it gets out of my mouth. Does the Holy Ghost sometimes pull you along so fast that the displaced air feels like a giant breath?

Fiat Voluntas Tua.

"...tantum dic verbum,

et sanabitur anima mea."

I could use that Word.

1 comment:

Faith said...

I love the idea of a home retreat before the school year starts. How wonderful!