Today’s Lectio Divina:
You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. Ephesians 4: 4-6 (MsgB)
Ignatian Truth #3: Ignatian spirituality is all about Finding God in All Things. In God we live, we move, and we have our being. There is no separation between sacred and secular.
Since the world we live in is so big, so busy, and yes, so overwhelming at times, it’s only appropriate when, in our human nature, we choose to break it down a bit, compartmentalizing our lives into smaller, easier-to-manage segments.
We have our work life.
Our home life.
Our play & recreation life.
We have our “me” time where we attempt to shut out everything around us in order to focus exclusively on ourselves. Then, there’s our socializing time, where we mix and mingle with others. For extroverts, this is when we are truly energized, but for introverts, this socializing segment of our lives can sometimes push us to our limits. For the most part, compartmentalizing our lives like this works well in the busy world we inhabit. But sadly, we human beings can become a bit too legalistic when drawing the lines around our compartments, leaving us with a very disjointed world.
Take religion, for example.
For centuries, religious people, especially those living in a westernized culture, have compartmentalized life in such a way that we assign God and God-activity to specific sections of our lives. The language we tend to use in this process contains two options.
Sacred and Secular.
Those people, places & things having to do with God and God-activity are assigned to the Sacred compartment. While all other people, places & things not having to do with God are put into the Secular box. Today, that Sacred box, which includes spiritual activity like praying, going to church, etc. has become less and less important to more and more people. In America, our Secular box is growing in leaps and bounds, taking up more and more of our time, energy, and resources, leaving very little time for anything spiritual.
But, now comes the rub.
While most human beings tend to see their lives through this Sacred/Secular lense, the God of all Creation has nothing to do with it! As a matter of fact, those familiar with the differences between western thought and an eastern worldview, suggest that this Sacred/Secular mindset that most of us use in compartmentalizing our lives is only a reality for those who live, move and have their being in a westernized 21st century world!
You see, to the men and women who interacted with Jesus of Nazareth in the first century, and for most of the writers of the Holy Scriptures we call the Bible, the idea of God being assigned to a Sacred compartment while the rest of our world is labeled Secular would be asinine. In truth, the God of our Scriptures is so much larger than our limited Sacred/Secular worldview, many today are coming to the realization that true spirituality must break free of this westernized mindset lest we strangle ourselves with our own tape measures!
St. Ignatius, and many of the Protestant reformers, actually pegged this problem with a Sacred/Secular worldview way back in the 16thcentury. For Ignatius and Luther, for example, God was so much more than a deity that only dabbled in church life! Indeed, for these men, God is at work in church, at our workplace, at school, at play, and just about anywhere else we can imagine!
Susan Phillips comments on all this in her excellent book, Candlelight…
We believe in a God who is omnipresent, immanent as well as transcendent. There is folly in believing in such a God and then mentally confining that God’s knowledge and power to areas outside the domain of our sovereign selves. It’s as though we think there is a chlorine-free end of the swimming pool, a God-free zone in our lives. Not so. We affirm theologically that God is ever-present.
So, my friends, it’s time to stop wading in the imaginary God-free swimming pool of our lives and plunge right into the deep waters of a God who is over all, through all, and in all.
My prayer: OK, God. I realize that You have no interest in being delegated to specific compartments of my life. In truth, You are already over all, through all, and in all. I surrender to trying to keep my life categorized between the Sacred and the Secular. I acknowledge You as a God in all things. For Your glory! For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: While compartmentalizing my busy life can have advantages, where has this process actually kept me from seeing and appreciating my life as one whole work of God? Which compartments have I opened up to Jesus, but maybe more importantly, where have I placed a Do Not Enter sign, hoping the Master will not notice?
How are you experiencing God as you ponder on these Ignatian truths today?
Over a period of twelve weeks (3 sessions per week), we will take this journey into Iggy’s Biggies, contemplating twelve foundational truths found within the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. We suggest you bookmark our blog series homepage to keep all the writings in one place for your future reference. Take note that each blog session begins with a short scripture reading. My suggestion is that you don’t hurry through, or skip the text, but treat it as a Lectio Divina reading where you slow down and sit a bit with God’s Word, allowing it to penetrate and influence you as you read.
If you’ve never journeyed through the Exercises, might I suggest that you find a qualified spiritual director and ask them to accompany you along the way? Here at The Contemplative Activist, we can offer a good number of highly qualified folks to do just that.
Oh, and if you enjoy what you’re reading here, we encourage you to share this page and our website, The Contemplative Activist, with your friends!