Lecture XVI 8th March, 1940
We considered the second week of the exercises in the last lecture and I told you that the very detailed meditation on the life of Christ led over into the contemplation of the meditator’s own life.
It would be impossible to consider the life of Christ really thoroughly without one’s own life being drawn, intentionally or unintentionally, into the picture, we always judge by our own experience.
So it is really only logical that the meditator’s own life, plans and intentions should come in.
But when we examine our life in the light of Christ’s life we must do so from the point of view of totality.
The point of the meditation is an identification with the life of Christ in the sense of an Imitatio Christi, and if the exercise is properly carried out the result should be that the meditator lives his own life as Christ lived his.
But here we encounter a critical point: the question of what the Imitatio Christi means?
Is it an identification which leads, so to speak, towards the appearance of the Stigmata, such as St. Francis of Assisi, other saints and saintly people achieved?
Or is it leading one’s own life completely, such as it is, right to the bitter end, as Christ himself lived his?
These are two totally different ways.
In either case, however, the Imitatio Christi involves accepting and carrying the cross.
In the first case you almost literally carry the cross of Christ, and in the second you carry your own cross, your own conflict.
If you carry the cross of Christ, the conflict arises which is described in the New Testament, the conflict of Christ with the world and the flesh.
If you carry your own cross it is harder to define the conflict for it is individual.
But in either case the conflict must be accepted and the life lived as a totality in this or that sense, which spells suffering and a complete reformation of the way in which life is lived.
For every one attempts to escape from conflict and to live life as harmoniously as possible.
The ideal in some Christian circles is to be always cheerful, of good courage, to be friends with all the world and to live above all conflict; for Christ has taken the conflict on Himself, so why should I trouble with it?
That is no imitation of Christ, it is a device to avoid the essential Christian conflict.
It is only logical, therefore, that the third week of the exercises should be devoted to the suffering of Christ.
We will not go into the detail of this, for we have already met with the essential points in the contemplation on the Anima Christi.
But you must not imagine that there is any such abbreviation in the exercises themselves.
On the contrary, every detail is meditated up on and, in order to heighten the impression, the regulations for this week include fasting.
Bread is regarded as harmless but every other form of food is cut down to a minimum.
And the meditation continues even during meals, the meal which Christ took with the two disciples of Emmaus, for instance, is meditated upon.
The fourth week includes all the events in the Gospel after the Crucifixion, especially the meeting between Christ and his mother.
The meditations of this fourth week are called: “Exercitia de amore Dei” (about the love of God).
This is the meditation for the laity.
There is a second aspect which is reserved for members of the Jesuit Order but, before considering this, we will turn to the directions given by our old Spanish Jesuit Izquierdus for the simple lay meditations.
Divine love is the main theme, it is related to the second aspect where the love of Christ for his mother and Mary’s love for her son are meditated up on, and the object of both meditations is to awaken love in the meditator, principally love towards God.
The following points must be meditated up on:
“First I must remember the benefits which God has heaped upon me, above all the benefit of creation and the benefit of preservation, that God has preserved me unto this day. If God did not succour me with His Almighty Power I could not exist for a moment. And beyond all this the benefit of redemption, which includes the descent of God’s son into the world. And further the benefit of Grace, in which we can take part through the Church. And then all the individual benefits which God has heaped upon me in the course of my life. And in the same way I must contemplate the excellence of the Giver, the multitude and magnitude of the benefits and the endless intensity of the love from which all these gifts flow unto me.”
The second point is the meditation on:
“The way in which God has made his home in all creatures, how He lives in the elements, in plants, and how He gives them their lives. How He lives in the animals and gives them their power of perception, and how He does the same for man, adding the intellect, that is, reason. And how He lives in me, and gives me His essence, life, feeling and understanding. And beyond all this how He has made us His temple, created us in His likeness and image, adorned with supernatural gifts, through which we can believe, love, and reverence God, in serving Him.”
You see again that the absolute dependence of man on the creative foundation of the Divinity is emphasised.
If we understand this psychologically, it is a scientific fact that we are entirely dependent on the functioning of the unconscious, we can do nothing without it.
The believer who takes these things literally has an attitude which really agrees with the scientific truth.
This is a great advantage to him, for if one is under the impression that one can live by one’s consciousness or reason one is going against nature.
Consciousness is the reward or happy result of living a natural life thoroughly.
But today unfortunately this eternal truth is too often contradicted or forgotten.
Modern man is under the impression that the will is everything, and attempts to live by his head alone.
This attitude is simply unhealthy and exceedingly unhygienic for the condition of our nerves.
I allow myself to look at these metaphysical things from the medical standpoint.
This explains why people who can make their peace with God are very much he healthier, even physically.
The body can never flourish when we are going against nature.
The third point is:
“The way in which God ‘laborat’ (works] in all creatures, in the elements, trees, animals, fruits and also in me.”
A detailed and careful examination of how God works in every separate being is recommended here, and this should be understood in the following sense: all things which I encounter in myself are the result of the source (God] from which I originate.
This idea also is absolutely correct from the psychological point of view, for if my unconscious does not cooperate with me I cannot speak the next sentence, for everything I say is prepared in the pre-conscious and flows into my speech.
I cannot remember a name, that I have perhaps written down and learnt carefully, if the unconscious prefers to blind me.
I am entirely dependent on whether the unconscious works in me or not.
In metaphysical language: on whether God works in me or not.
It is very practical, a sort of mental hygiene, to look at things from such a point of view, because it compels us to give more attention to our unconscious, to see how it functions, whether it is working with or against us, and what it is producing.
So the nerve doctor must draw the attention of his patients to their hunches and dreams, for the majority of people in these days think they can sail away over everything with their heads and have no idea of what God is working at in them.
These truths, in their metaphysical form, are difficult for modern people to digest, but if we can digest them we are compelled to ask whether there is not a very healthy psychology behind them?
With such an attitude you can make discoveries!
The fourth point for meditation is:
“In what way all created things originate from the uncreated.”
How does the work of man, everything which he is able to produce, originate in the uncreated?
This carries the last reflection further.
In as far as I know that all my own contents originate in the unconscious I can assume that everything which man produces, all that he achieves, originates in unconscious prototypes.
This is really a Platonic idea, formed on the actual structure of the psyche.
At the end Izquierdus speaks of loving God and says:
“Whosoever loves in this way finds nothing else which he can love except God.”
The man, who follows this belief and gains this insight, understands that the highest goal of man lies in loving most of all that power which carries him entirely.
This ends the meditation for the laity.
We come now to the second part of this meditation which is only for the soldiers of the Church, the members of the Order of Jesus.
The meeting between Christ and his mother takes place after his death, so it is to a certain extent an event in the Beyond, even though Mary is still alive.
Christ is already an incorporeal being who appears to his Mother after his resurrection.
It is a supernatural event and, psychologically, that is an event which happens in the unconscious.
This is connected with the double meaning of the mother.
It was not in vain that the old Izquierdus emphasis ed man’s metaphysical background, and made the laity conscious of all that we owe to it.
He expressed a thought which is contained in the symbol of the mother: to be confronted with the mother is to return to one’s own origin.
Christ’s mother was his origin.
He sprang from her, she is his mother earth from which he grew.
She is the symbol of the earth in which he originated and on which he stands forever.
Looked at from the psychological point of view, that earth is the unconscious psyche, we stand on that and it is the creator of our conscious.
It is in this sense that Christ is confronted with his mother, his origin.
In the meditations for the laity, the same thought was meditated upon but the Deity replaced the mother.
The meditation for the Jesuits themselves goes further, it contemplates the benefits which the masculine creative God has bestowed upon us but it penetrates deeper into the unconscious background and includes the meaning of the mother, the maternal, nourishing being.
This is because of the androgynous nature of the image of Christ, which we have already spoken of in another connection.
This androgyny is connected with nature and the unconscious.
The latter is male and female, and neither male nor female, but something above both.
This is the reason that the old non-Christian gods are usually hermaphroditic.
After all the background of the psyche is the only model which we possess, the only place where cosmogonic speculation can operate, and it has a hermaphroditic character for the human being is hermaphroditic.
It is only the majority of genes which decides whether a boy or a girl shall be born and the minority does not disappear, it still functions.
This is the reason that every man has a feminine and every woman a masculine side.
In some cases, in masculine women and feminine men, the mixture of the two sexes seems almost even.
In cases where homo-sexuality is not just a development arrete”, it is hermaphroditic, and beyond this there are, of course, actual hermaphrodites.
The hermaphroditic nature of man plays a considerable role in Jesuit meditation, but it is not so crudely expressed.
It is too shocking to think such thoughts to their conclusion, it is not certain that one can afford it, therefore I also am hesitant in using these terms.
The confrontation of Christ with his mother is then the confrontation with the unconscious, either in divine form – exercitia de amore Dei – or in feminine form.
If this were taken to its logical conclusion the exercises would have to speak directly of Christ’s feminine side.
The image of Christ would not have this androgynous character if the unconscious background were not filled by the divine pair, the Father-Mother of which the Gnosis speaks.
But the Jesuit exercises do not speak of this aspect, the mother is the Church, the mater ecclesia, so the second part of the meditation, for members of the Jesuit order, is on the
Ignatius prescribes this in his “Rules for thinking with the Church.;”
I will translate’ some passages from this for it is very characteristic of the attitude of the Jesuits.
The First: “laying aside all criticism, we ought to hold our mind ready and prompt to obey in all things the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our holy Mother, the Hierarchical Church.”
The Second: “to praise confession to a priest and the reception of the Most Holy Sacrament once a year, and much more every month, and much better once a week, with the requisite
and due conditions.”
The Third: “to praise the frequent hearing of Mass, likewise chants, psalms, and long prayers in Church and out of Church . . .”
The Fourth: “to praise Religious Orders, virginity and continence; and matrimony not so much as any of the above.”
The Fifth: “to praise vows of religion, of obedience, of poverty, of chastity and of other perfections of supererogation . . .”
The Sixth: “to praise relics of Saints, paying veneration to the one, and making prayer to the other: praising stations, pilgrimages, indulgences, jubilees, . . . and lighted candles in the Churches.”
The Seventh: “to praise Constitutions concerning fasts and abstinences, as of Lent, Ember Days, Vigils, Friday and Saturday; likewise penances, not only internal but also external.”
The Eighth : “to praise decorations and buildings of churches, likewise images and to venerate them according to what they represent.”
The Ninth: “to praise in fine all precepts of the Church, holding the mind ready to find reasons in her defence and nowise in her offence.”
The Tenth: “we ought to be more ready to approve and praise as well the Constitutions and Ordinances as als o the personal conduct of our Superiors; because, granting that they are not or were not such as to merit praise, to speak against them whether by preaching in public or in conversation with men of the common sort, would engender rather murmuring and scandal than spiritual profit; and thereby the people would grow indignant against their rulers, whether temp oral or spiritual. Thus as it is hurtful, in the absence of Superiors, to speak ill of them to people of no position, so it may be profitable to speak of their evil behaviour to those same persons who can remedy the evil.”
The Eleventh: “to praise the Positive and Scholastic doctrine . . .”
And in the thirteenth rule we find: “to make sure of being right in all things, we ought always to hold by the principle that the white that I see I would believe to be black, if the Hierarchical Church were so to rule it, – believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same spirit that governs and guides us to the Salvation of our souls; because by the same spirit and our Lord who gave the ten commandments our Holy Mother Church is guided and governed.”
This means that Christ, the Lord of the Church, and the Church, his bride, are led by the Holy Ghost who also rules us.
Therefore we must always believe what the Church says, even if it goes against the evidence of our own senses.
The Fourteenth: “allowing that it is very true that none can be saved, unless he be predestinate, and without having faith and grace – there is much to attend to in the manner of speaking and
conversing on all these topics.”
The Fifteenth: “we ought not to speak much of predestination by way of an habitual topic . . . it should be so spoken of that the common sort may not come into any error, as is wont to be
the case at times by saying: ‘If I am bound to be saved or damned, the thing is already settled, and for all my good or evil works it cannot now be otherwise’ and so falling into a torpor they
grow slack in the works that conduce to the salvation and spiritual profit of their souls.”
We read in the seventeenth rule:
“Likewise we ought not to speak at so much length, insisting so much upon Grace, as that there be engendered the poisonous error whereby liberty is taken away. Thus about faith and grace we may speak as much as possible by means of the divine assistance for the greater praise of His Divine Majesty, but not in such sort, nor in such fashions, especially in our so dangerous times, as that works and free will may receive any prejudice or be held for nought.”
The eighteenth and last rule is about the love of God:
“Though it be a thing to esteem above all, much to serve God our Lord out of pure love, we ought much to praise the fear of His Divine Majesty: because not only is filial fear a pious and most holy thing, but even servile fear, where the man does not attain to anything better or more profitable, is a great help towards getting out of mortal sin; and after a man has got out of that, he easily comes to filial fear, which is wholly acceptable and grateful to God our Lord as it is at one with divine love.”
This really says we should feel a childish fear of God.
It is very interesting that it is not the love of a son but the fear of a son which is emphasised.
This points to the double nature of God himself.
If God is all goodness then love is sufficient but if he is also to be feared then obviously he has another side.
These rules make the things with which the Jesuits have been reproached clear, they have their own way of dealing with the truth.
But they are the soldiers of the Church, and they may only do and say the things which benefit the Church.
In as far as the Church is temporal and not only mystical [she reaches into the world as a worldly institution) she must take a part in the politics of this world, and, as is well known, lying is unavoidable in politics!
Philipp Funk, a Protestant writer on the exercises, says:
“Psychological penetration and pedagogic calculation are not wanting in Ignatius’ method, they even go as far as trickery, but what it lacks above all is the quality of ‘discretio’, the delicate capacity for selection and adaptation to those minds which are to be guided, or rather educated, that ‘discretio’ which the wise educator Benedict of Nursia demanded, as the chief requisite, from the abbot, that is, from the father-confessor.”
This is one of the main differences between the Jesuits and the Benedictines.
“As a matter of fact the result of Ignatian intolerance, which only knows its own method and admits of no other, is a lifeless rigidity which has spread in schematic formulas over the whole of Catholic devotional life, the so-called inner asceticism.
So in this field also, which was previously that of individual mysticism, rich in type, all individuality has been rejected and suppressed since the predominance of the Jesuit system.
Aridity rules everywhere, reaching deeply into the essence of preaching and of Christian teaching.
Catholicism owes this to Ignatius, though this was scarcely his intention.”
This is a Protestant opinion but there is also a considerable opposition to the Jesuit system within the Roman Catholic Church itself.
It is, however, a method and an effective method, and it is naturally prized because it is a formula which can be applied to many people, to almost anyone.
But it destroys the Benedictine ” discretio ” and the individual goes under with it.
This began in the early days of the Jesuit Order – though one could not accuse Ignatius himself in this respect – but the attitude of the Order remained medieval and did not think the thoughts
to their conclusion.
It simply interpreted the mother as the Church.
But we shall see, if I continue these lectures, that a movement began in the Middle Ages, or even earlier, which laid the chief stress on the individual, on that individual living point which is the image of the fullness of God.
This movement endeavoured to find the individual way in contradistinction to the Church which, to some extent, sucks the whole soul of mankind into the institution. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lectures, Pages 258-264