Listen to this!
Today’s Lectio Divina:
I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles. Philippians 4: 10-14 (MsgB)
Ignatian Truth #10: Ignatian spirituality is all about Holy Indifference. Freedom from disordered attachments empowers us to say yes to God, living more fully into the person God has created us to be. The glory of God is a person fully alive (St Irenaeus). Resistance to indifference is not to be ignored but can serve as a doorway to the Divine and to self-discovery.
In the last session of this blog series, we discussed how you and I, as followers of Christ, can actually find ourselves living in a season of desolation, yet because of the good work of God going on inside of us, we can still be content because we know Christ is with us, even as we are going through a difficult time.
King David reflects this attitude in his song we call Psalm 23, where he states in verse 4…
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (NIV)
Paul, in his letters found in the New Testament, often reflects this same Christ-centered attitude when he finds himself in tough situations. Case in point?
Today’s text from Paul’s letter to the Philippian church…
…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4: 11-13 (NIV)
You see, in our flesh, the idea of finding contentment in the midst of desolation confounds the human mind. And in our consumer-driven culture, any concept of inner happiness being found in the midst of loss or poverty is simply off our charts!
Ignatius talked a lot about this amazing state of contentment found in the midst of desolation, calling it “indifference.” Sadly, this word, “indifference” in our society loses its power because, for so many of us, we consider “indifference” as a sense of detachment or a lack of caring. Today, when a person is “indifferent,” they have resigned themselves into a state of denial, wandering aimlessly in an imaginary world where “whatever will be, will be,” or as the Disney movie, The Lion King, calls it, a state of “Hakuna Matata.”
But to Ignatius, “indifference” was far from living in an imaginary place of blissful nothingness. Far from it! Actually to St. Iggy, finding a place of “indifference” was a holy place of contentment given to us when all the cares of this world are given less power and our attention is focused exclusively on being found in the presence of Christ.
That’s why I like to call Ignatius’ state of “indifference”…
To me, this place where King David finds peace and contentment, (in Psalm 23) “even though I walk through the darkest valley,” or Paul says, (in Philippians 4) “I have learned to be content…whether (I am) well fed or hungry, (or) living in plenty or in want” is a gift from God!
You see, the ability for my heart and soul to find contentment or peacefulness in a season of desolation is not something I can naturally do out of my own strength. That’s why I believe the “indifference” Ignatius is referring to is a “holy” gift that comes freely from a loving Father who gives us that gift as we keep our eyes on Jesus in the midst of trying situations.
So, this week, let’s unpack a few truths about “holy indifference,” asking Jesus to come right alongside us as we journey. It’s my belief that as we do, we will find an increasing amount of Holy Spirit-breathed peacefulness and contentment; grace which comforts our soul even as we walk through some very difficult times.
My prayer: Father God, grant me the same inner peace and inward contentment expressed by King David or the apostle Paul, as I walk through my seasons of loss or desolation. As Paul states it, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Precious Jesus, as I keep my eyes on You today, give me that same strength. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: There’s an old hymn that speaks of holy indifference…
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
What “things of earth” are trying to steal my attention today, moving my eyes away from Jesus and His glory and grace? What will it look like for me to choose to focus only on Jesus today, over and above all the other “attention-grabbers?”
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!