All of us are called to holiness! Jesus expressed this clearly: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.” (Mt. 5: 48) Once again, one of the Beatitudes has been interpreted, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness, for they will be fulfilled.”( Mt. 5:6) Therefore, we should strive to utilize the most efficacious means to attain holiness of life, becoming the “Saint” that God indeed has called us to be!
Undoubtedly one of the most efficacious means/tools/spiritual weapons in the arsenal to fight the good fight and win the race is living out the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. One Pope asserted, commenting on the efficacy of the Exercises, that if the whole world would meditate, understand, assimilate and live out Principle and Foundation, then the whole world would be saved! Therefore, let us simply highlight some of the spiritual fruits that can be derived by “living out” the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola! Just three!
First, attaining a deep prayer experience! Ignatian scholars unanimously agree that the “Spiritual Exercises” are a goldmine, spiritual treasure of wealth in learning the “Art of all arts,” the art of prayer. St. Augustine, in a pithy but “easy to memorize” statement, enlightens us: “He who prays well, lives well; he who lives well, dies well; and he who dies well, all is well!” Bravo, Augustine!
Second, knowledge and love for Jesus Christ! The primary pursuit of all disciples of Jesus, should be to know Him, love Him, and logically to follow Him all the more closely. That is precisely the fruit that we beg for in the 2nd Week of the Spiritual Exercises! Christianity/Catholicism is truly a daily “love-affair” of falling in love with Jesus! Exactly the goal of the Exercises!
Finally, Apostolic zeal! Fulton Sheen summarizes the dynamics and program for holiness. “First come, to Jesus; then go out to all the world”. In short, first come then, go!!! The “Call of the King” catapults us from contemplation of Christ to a burning desire to make Him known to the whole world!
In sum, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius proves to be an excellent “School of prayer,” a sure means to fall in love with Jesus daily; and an efficacious “powerhouse” of apostolic zeal, all resulting in forming true followers of Jesus, authentic saints!