Posted August 3, 2005
Trying to Figure Out Who You Really Are?
Here is what St. Ignatius would say on this
Taken from Stretched for Greater Glory:
What to Expect from the Spiritual Exercises [Cited on our website]
A constant refrain running through the whole of the Exercises [Ignatian Exercises] is the invitation to pray for what you desire. The whole experience happens on the level of desire of the heart. Ignatius believes that desire, as the deepest, most personal experience of grace, always reveals a personís true identity and is the birthplace of commitment.
. . . But praying for what one deeply desires is never easy. It pushes us into a place where a serious conflict is raging for us all, a conflict sometimes not acknowledged but always crucial to our true identity. To discover what we deeply, truly desire forces us to wade into a swamp of needs, expectations, demands, casual wishes, moods, obligations, and much more. Your deepest, truest desire may coincide with one or another of these interior experiences but will always cut deeper into your heart than any of them. True desire is fire in the heart. But, rather than simply dancing on the tips of the flashing flames, it quietly burns deep in the white-hot coals. These deepest, truest desires constitute and reveal a personís core identity.
Ignatius not only counsels praying for what you deeply, truly desire, but he even dares to tell you what that is. How can he know this? A number of reflections help in answering this troubling question. Ignatius was led by God over the years to identify that profound place in his own heart where, as human beings, we meet one another and share similar desires. Though his experience is not a carbon copy of anyone elseís, it touches the similarity that unites us all.
These true desires are exposed in the objective contour of the mystery of Godís saving love as revealed in Christ. As his experience with Jesus stirred desires in his heart, Ignatius realized two things.
First, desires sorted through and owned as true revealed his identity in Jesus.
Second, this experience was not something just for himself but could serve the same purpose for many others. The descriptive terminology varies within the Christian tradition, but the reality of these profound desires is the same because they are revealed in the mystery of Christ. In summary, therefore, these deepest, truest desire are ultimately God-given, beyond any other personal influence.
For this reason, while making the Exercises, from beginning to end you must carefully monitor your desires. God is very personally present and at work in them. You must learn to trust Ignatiusís stipulated desires, not just because they are his desires but because they articulate objective road signs along the pilgrimage you are making into the saving mystery of Christ.
Finally, and most important, you must have the honesty and the patience to search your own complicated interior life, to wait for, recognize, and claim as your own the revelation of Ignatiusís desires. It is as important as discovering the gold of your true self in Christ. To pray, even at times to beg, for what you deeply, truly desire can lead to becoming what you desire and will then spill over into acting what you desire. To pray for, to become, to act what you deeply desire; this is a progressively developing dynamic of self-revelation in Christ, highlighted by the grace and colloquy of each exercise.