Novena to St. Ignatius Loyola – Prayer for Generosity – Day 3 – July 25
Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not count the cost;
to fight and not heed the wounds;
to toil and not seek for rest;
to labor and not ask for reward, except to know
that I am doing your will.
– Prayer for Generosity – St. Ignatius Loyola
If there seems to be a strange resonance between Don Quixote’s “Impossible Dream” and St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity, it is because they share the same inspiration.
Miguel de Cervantes published Don Quixote in two volumes in 1605 and 1615. This classic of western literature was intended as a parody of all the tales of the questing knight. Cervantes hoped his novel would put an end to the genre. St. Ignatius Loyola, who lived from 1491 to 1556, is imbued with this medieval notion of service to one’s lord and the quest for glory in acts of chivalry. Yet, St. Ignatius is also set on the threshold of the modern age. His feudal lord becomes the God of Heaven and he sets out on his quest, laying aside his armor and fine clothes for the homespun garment of the pilgrim.
The 1972 musical, “Man of La Mancha,” takes up the themes of Don Quixote as an assertion of meaning and purpose in the face of the absurdity and pessimism of the mid-20th century. Although it is not a “religious” song, “The Impossible Dream” is a great example of what St. Ignatius asks us to look for as contemplatives in action. God’s word is breaking forth. The book and the musical make it very clear that Don Quixote’s type of delusional world is clearly mad in the cold light of everyday reality. Yet surrendering to the gloom is more insane. Mother Teresa left a challenging but reasonable ministry as a teacher to do the completely impossible task of rescuing the dying in the gutters of Calcutta
The great challenge St. Ignatius gives us is the willingness to dream big – to be unreasonable – to be lifted out of ourselves in the ecstasy of tilting at windmills with God. St. Ignatius is immensely practical in his rules on spiritual guidance and discernment of spirits. However, he assumes that we come with a late medieval passion and desire to do great deeds.
The great problem with the post-modern world is that our vision has shrunk. Let’s get an education to get a job; to pay a mortgage; to buy an RV; to retire with money; to die. “The Impossible Dream” always moves those who hear it because we recognize the truth in its pure foolishness.
Placing Ourselves in God’s Presence
Inhale slowly and deeply. Exhale slowly and mindfully.
Relax. Be at peace. Be aware that you are in God’s loving presence wherever you are.
Reviewing Our Lives With Gratitude
What passions for making the world better have we received? How good are we at telling jokes; at laughing when we want to cry? When we have been crushed, defeated: who or what got us on our feet to try again? Who were the great people in our lives who taught us to dream; who taught us not to live in fear?
Reflecting on Our Feelings and Spiritual Movements
What impossible dreams and visions come to me? How do I feel about going on a quest? How do I feel about failure, disillusionment, betrayal? What visions and emotions come to me when I look at my life? In good times and bad times what has God been doing in my life?
Focusing on What Comes to Us
Let your feelings and images well up within you. What strikes you the most about the course of your life? What feeling or images come to you more clearly and peacefully?
Talking With Jesus Our Friend
Converse with Jesus as He is right now, right here – your friend. Share what comes from your heart – in a look, a few words, a smile. Ask for help on this journey; to see Him in all things; to be more in love everyday.
Jesus, our love and your grace are enough for me.
St. Ignatius, you signed your letters “pobre de bondad” poor in goodness and called yourself a pilgrim. Please pray for me to be open to what God is calling me to do to announce and build up the kingdom. Transform my petitions into questions of discernment and pray for us to remember that all of our true needs and desires are already known to God. Pray that I be taken beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life.
In your writings and by your example we are reminded to pray for the Church and the Holy Father, for all who dwell in darkness and for the millions lacking food, water, and other necessities. We join our prayer with yours for true openness so that we can contemplate the Divine presence in all things and praise, reverence and serve God Our Lord in action.Pray for us to have the courage to meet and to serve the Lord Jesus in the poor and the suffering.
Praise be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit
Now and forever. Amen.