Today I will briefly recapitulate the exercitia spiritualia.
Lecture III 22nd November, 1940
Today I will briefly recapitulate the exercitia spiritualia.
These exercises were the invention of ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, but they have their forerunners in previous history.
They originated from two main sources: the Devoti, who had been devoting themselves to spiritual meditation in monasteries for several centuries, and Islam.
The father of the meditative movement in Islam was ALGAZZALI, the great theologian and scholar (1059-1111).
He invented spiritual exercises, which lasted for three or four weeks for the purpose of deepening and strengthening the spiritual life of the faithful.
Ignatius built up his exercises in the form of rules and regulations.
He was originally an officer in the army, but he was laid up as the result of a wound, and during his convalescence he read spiritual books, and thus received the stimulus which eventually led to the exercises.
The big exercises, like their Islamic forerunners, last three or four weeks.
The small, three day, exercises are really only sermons, but the big exercises are meditation in the true sense of the word.
A praeparatio precedes the actual exercises.
There are two principal texts which are meditated on during this preparation, the “Anima Christi” and the “Fundamentum”.
“Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
0 good Jesu, hear me :
Within Thy wounds, hide me :
Never permit me to be separated from The:
From the wicked enemy defend me :
At the hour of my death call me,
And bid me come unto Thee,
That with Thy Saints I may praise Thee
For ever and ever. Amen”
This prayer is meditated on line by line, as I described to you in full detail in my earlier lectures.
We have an excellent example and elucidation of the exercises in the book “Deus Semper Maior” by the modern Jesuit, ERICH PRZYWARA.
Three volumes have already appeared, one can almost say he meditates on every word.
His meditations on the “Anima Christi” and the “Fundamentum” are really the best part of the book, and by reading these you win an excellent impression of Przywara’s theology and also that of Ignatius himself.
The purpose of the meditation on the “Anima Christi” is to form the figure of Christ so concretely, through active imagination, that the meditator is removed, so to speak, into the presence of the image and finally taken up into it.
That is: the meditator or believer – in the West we must not use the term Yogin – disappears entirely into the form which he has created.
According to the orthodox view, of course, he has not created this form, for Christ is an objective, external presence, which only becomes clear to the inner eye through the meditation.
This is undertaken as a support to the already existing conviction of the absolute existence of Christ.
The meditator, through his most intimate and active mental absorption in this form, gradually loses his own identity and soul into that of Christ.
It is through this, that the elevation of the human being, which is the purpose of such meditations, takes place.
As Przywara says, a totality is formed: the totality of the perfect divine man, a unity of spirit and flesh, of God and creature.
Christ appears as a totality in this meditation, not only as man but also as God, inasmuch as the Church formula is: “verus deus et verus homo”
This all-embracing figure, “very God and very man”, embraces the human being in the fullest sense, and contains him completely.
The figure of Christ has, as you have already heard, its counterpart in the East, in the figure of the Purusha, of the Atman or of Mahasukha.
It is the idea of a being which entirely contains the conscious man, and which raises him thereby to a totality, which he could never attain by himself.
This greater being, which contains the human being, is, according to the Indian definition, the so-called Self, the transcendent Self of man, not the ego but something far beyond the ego, the transcendental subject.
This in a sense corresponds to the inner Christ of Christian mysticism, the Christ who is the vine while we are the branches.
We are a part of this totality, we flow in a certain sense in the blood of Christ, we have our part in his body, which penetrates us, we breathe with his breath, and are therefore so to speak Christ himself, in spite of being parts.
This experience is very different to the Indian point of view, where it is the Yogin himself who becomes Buddha.
It is the exact opposite; for in the West, Christ is the active agent who takes man and makes him part of himself, it is not the meditator who makes Christ his own.
In the East, no subject exists except that of the Yogin himself.
There is no longer a Buddha, he has gone over into Nirvana, into a state of non-being which represents the highest perfection.
It is blasphemous in the East to speak as if there were still a Buddha.
One deceives oneself completely when one assumes, that a religious service in the East, taking place before a statue of Buddha, is addressed to Buddha. Buddha no longer exists, but in Christianity, on the contrary, Christ always exists.
His existence is almost the be all and end all of Christianity, and therefore, in Christian meditation, man goes over into Christ’s form, into the totality of the transcendent subject, and disappears as man.
And it is really the goal of the exercises, to bring about the disappearance of the subjective ego man, for it is he who has voluntarily subjected himself to the discipline of the Church.
This point of view, which I am trying to make clear to you, is not the invention of St. Ignatius, but contains ideas which have existed since the earliest days of the Church, and are also to be found in those an ancient spiritual movements which ran parallel to the Church.
I should like, therefore, to read you a passage from HIPPOL YTUS.
He was a dissident Bishop of the Church of Rome and died a martyr’s death about 235 A. D.
He dissented from orthodox views and was the opponent of Pope Calixtus I.
This story belongs to the chronique scandaleuse of the Church.
They had a deplorable dispute, which is interesting inasmuch as it is a case of an introvert and an extravert getting on each other’s nerves.
Hippolytus is one of our main sources of information about Gnosticism, and the other spiritual movements which sprang from a common origin with the Church and ran parallel to it.
The passage comes from his “Philosophumena”: 1027 “And thou shalt receive the kingdom of heaven, thou who whilst thou didst sojourn in life, didst know the Celestial King. And [hereafter] shalt thou be a companion of the Deity, and a co-heir with Christ, no longer enslaved by lusts or passions, and wasted by dis ease. For thou hast become God. [For whatever sufferings thou didst undergo while being a man, these He gave to thee, because thou wast of mortal mold.] But whatever (attributes) it is consistent with [the nature of] God [to impart], these God has promised to bestow upon thee, because thou hast been deified, and begotten unto immortality. This constitutes [the import of the proverb] , ‘Know thyself ; discover God within thyself, for He has formed thee after His own image. For with the knowledge of self is conjoined the being an object of God’s knowledge, for thou art called by Himself . . . . He has elevated thee, 0 man, to His own rank, by having made thee even God unto His glory ! ”
This, as you see, is a dangerous formulation which could give rise to very peculiar ideas.
But it is a confession which is exceedingly typical of the early Christian point of view.
We find similar statements in the writings of St. Paul and therefore Hippolytus refers to I. Cor. XIII. 1 2 : ” . . . but then shall I know even as I am known. ”
Hippolytus takes the inner relationship of man to God literally: the idea of reciprocal relationship between God and man, which is one of the original conceptions of Christianity and which was only lost much later.
I should also like to read you a passage from another valuable document, which is not Christian but Gnostic. MONOIMUS , the Arab , explains his opinions in a letter to Theophrastus (Monoimus is only known to us through Hippolytus):
” . . . . Seek for Him from thyself, and learn who it is that absolutely appropriates all things in thee and says, ‘My God, my mind, my understanding, my soul, my body.’ And learn from whence are sorrow, and joy, and love, and hatred, and involuntary wakefulness, and involuntary drowsiness, and involuntary anger, and involuntary affection ; and if you accurately investigate these, you will discover Himself, unity and plurality in thyself, according to that tittle, and that He finds the outlet to be from 28 thyself ” . . .
This is a truly psychological interpretation of the religious phenomenon.
Monoimus goes so far as to say, that God himself has his origin in man.
This stands in absolute opposition to the teaching of the Church, that God is an objective presence, a Thou.
For God is not really an external Thou in this passage, but my own inner existence.
This conception leads us directly to the East. Monoimus was an Arab and it is possible that at that time, about the end of the first century A. D., there were direct influences from the East.
We have other reasons for suspecting this.
Already in the second century B. C. we find signs of Buddhist symbols and ideas in Persia; and in Egyptian and Greek literature also there are conceptions which are very probably Indian.
We also find indications in India of western influences, but it is impossible to date them accurately.
This whole question is still open, for we have not yet won the necessary evidence to be able to judge with certainty.
The interesting point in the quotation from Monoimus is that the Deity is made responsible for all involuntary psychic phenomena.
If, for instance, someone should involuntarily fall asleep, or be wakeful when he wants to sleep, or should have an involuntary fit of anger, or should be sad without intention, then it is not his doing, but is “a Deo missum ” (sent by God).
We say: “Don’t be so lazy”, “keep awake”, “pull yours elf together” and so on; but according to the point of view of Monoimus we are ordering God about when we do this.
This contains an important standpoint when judging human emotions.
We all know how difficult it is to control our emotions; we cannot in fact win complete control without injuring ourselves.
Habitual repression of the emotions is dangerous, it can even endanger life.
We get, in a mild form, a lump in the throat, or feel as if we could burst with emotion.
It has almost a redeeming effect, if we can break out in some way. In this passage we are told that these overpowering emotions come from the inner God.
We come now to the “FUNDAMENTUM:
“Man was created to praise, do reverence to and serve God our Lord, and thereby to save his soul. And the other things on the face of the earth were created for man’s sake and to help him in the following out of the end for which he was created. Hence it follows that man should make use of creatures so far as they do help him towards his end, and should withdraw from them so far as they are a hindrance to him in regard of that end. Wherefore it is necessary to make ourselves detached in regard of all created things – in all that is left to the liberty of our free will, and is not forbidden it, – so that we on our part should not wish for health rather than sickness, for riches rather than poverty, for honour rather than ignominy, for a long life rather than a short life, and so in all other matters, solely desiring and choosing those things which
may lead us to the end for which we were created ”
The name “Fundamentum” comes from the fact that it expresses the ” Weltanschauung” and psychological foundation of the exercises; it brings the goal of human life to consciousness. In contrast to the western biological point of view, that every living creature has its purpose in itself, Ignatius declares that man has been created for a specific purpose: to praise God. He should come to the court of the king, in order to belong to that circle which surrounds and praises God; he should be a grape on the vine of God.
This goal lies at the root of the whole of Jesuit morality, all created things should be made use of for this goal, but only in so far as they further the “Laudare Dominum”.
We find a detailed meditation in Przywara on the essence of God and the relation of man to God.
He speaks of God as a “unio oppositorum”.
All opposites are united in God, whereas they are torn apart in man.
Man is a conflict and is therefore in a deplorable condition, needing redemption.
Redemption of course is the unity which is God. Przywara says: “God appears in the face of the rent as cross.”
The cross is the symbol for the union of the opposites.
Man meets God in the centre of the cross, man is the manifestation of the conflict and God represents their union.
Inasmuch as man is redeemed, he becomes one as God is one.
The symbol of the cross is really for Przywara the symbol of God; the essence of God is a cross.
This is a very deep reaching formulation, in that it declares God to be suffering.
This suffering is laid upon man, in the sense that man is not God, he is not united but divided, and he suffers from the yearning and necessity to find unity.
This gives the tearing apart of the human soul an extraordinarily new and important interpretation.
But it is also not new, for we have a parallel in a very interesting antique text from the fragments of the Acts of John:13:30:
” XII . . . . . And our Lord stood in the midst of the cave and lighted it up and said, ‘John, unto the multitude down below in Jerusalem I am being crucified, and pierced with lances and reeds, and gall and vinegar isgiven Me to drink : but unto thee I am speaking, and hearken thou to what I say. I put it into thy heart to come up into this ‘mountain, that thou mightest hear matters needful for a disciple to learn from his teacher, and for a man to learn from his God. ”
This scene takes place during the crucifixion on Golgotha.
St. John has withdrawn to the Mount of Olives, where he is granted this revelation.
You find the symbol of the mountain here again, the mountain which we found in Richard of St. Victor: if you desire to find Christ, know yourself, ascend on to the mountain.
“XIII. And having thus spoken, He shewed me a cross of light set up, and about the cross a great multitude: + and therein was one form and one likeness: and in the cross another multitude, not having one form +.”
The multitude refers to the plurality of the psychological units in man, “and therein was one form” that is the human form.
Many things are united in man and they form a plurality.
As a poet, Carl Spitteler, once expressed it: “Die Volker meiner Seele” (the people or nations of my soul.
“And the Lord Himself I beheld above the cross, not having any shape, but only a voice: and a voice not such as was familiar to us, but a sweet (or peculiar) and kind voice and one truly of God, saying unto me:
‘John, it is needful that one should hear these things from Me: for I have need of one that will hear. This cross of light is sometimes called the Word by me for your sakes, sometimes Mind, sometimes Jesus, Sometimes Christ, sometimes Door, sometimes a Way, sometimes Bread, sometimes Seed, sometimes Resurrection, sometimes Son, sometimes Father, (sometimes Spirit), sometimes Life, sometimes Truth, sometimes Faith, sometimes Grace. Now these things it is called as toward men: but as to what it is in truth, as conceived of in itself and as spoken of to you – it is the marking off of all things, and the + uplifting and foundation + of those things that are fixed and were unsettled, and the joining together of wisdom. And whereas it is wisdom fitly comp acted together, there are on the right and on the left of it, powers, principalities, dominations and daemons, operations, threat , wrath, devils (or slanderings), Satan, and the Lower Root, from which the nature of the things that come into being proceeded.”
(This is the rhizoma, the root, the chaos, the prima materia, the Hyle, in which everything originates.)
“This , then, is the Cross which fixed all things apart by a word, and marked off the things from birth and below it, and then compacted all into [one] : but this is not the cross of wood which thou wilt see when
thou go est down hence,”
(That is, when John goes down to Golgotha.)
“neither am I he that is upon the cross, whom now thou seest not, but only hearest a voice. I was reckoned to be what I am not, not being what I was unto many others: but they will call Me something else, which Is vile and not worthy of Me. As therefore the place of rest is neither seen nor spoken of ”
(This is Paradise.)
“much more shall I, the Lord of that place, be neither seen [nor spoken of]. XIV. Now the multitude of one aspect that is about the Cross is the lower nature”:
(We find the idea of the chaotic lower nature, the unredeemed nature of man, here)
“and those whom thou seest in the Cross, even if they have not one form, it is because not yet hath every member of Him that came down been comprehended. But when the upper nature shall be taken up, and the race which is rep airing to Me, in obedience to My voice, + then that which now hears Me not shall become as thou art +; and shall no longer be what it now is, but ab ove them, as I am now. For so long as thou callest not thyself Mine, I am not that which I am. But if hearing thou hearkenest unto Me, then shalt thou be as I am, and I shall be what I was, when I [have] thee as I am with Myself. For from this thou art.Care not therefore for the many, and them that are outside the mystery despise: for know thou that I am wholly with the Father, and the Father with Me.
“XV. Nothing therefore of the things which they will say of Me have I suffered : nay, that suffering also which I shewed unto thee and unto the rest in the dance, I will that it be called a mystery. For when thou
seest, that did I shew thee: but what I am, that I alone know, and none else. Let Me therefore keep that which is Mine own, and that which is thine behold thou through Me, and behold Me in truth that I am, not what I said, but what thou art able to know, because thou art akin thereto. Thou hearest that I suffered, yet I suffered not: that I suffered not, yet did I suffer : that I was pierced, yet was I not smitten; hanged and I was not hanged ; that blood flowed from Me, yet it flowed not: and, in a word, those things that they say of Me I had not, and the things that they say not, those I suffered. Now what they are I will signify unto thee, for I know that thou wilt understand. Perceive thou therefore in Me the praising (perhaps slaying) of a Word, the piercing of a Word, the blood of a Word, the wound of a Word, the hanging of a Word, the passion of a Word, the nailing of a Word, the death of a Word. And thus speak I, separating off the manhood. Think thou therefore in the first place of the Word, then shalt thou perceive
the Lord, and in the third place the Man, and what he hath suffered.’”
This highly remarkable text shows you that these ideas have been pondered over since the earliest days of Christianity.
Przywara naturally does not refer to this text, because it is not canonical.
I do not know if he knew it and thought of it while he was writing, but any way it contains the ideas which are emphasized in his meditation.
After the Praeparatio we come to the main exercises themselves.
Though there is no absolutely fixed programme, they are divided into four weeks.
The first exercise is called: “The exercise on the threefold sin.”
The first sin is the sin of the angels, their revolt against God; the second is original sin, the sin of Adam and Eve; third is our own sinfulness.
A colloquy usually follows this, a dialogue between the mediator and the Deity.
It is, however, a one-sided conversation, the mediator speaks all the time, there is no mention of God saying anything.
This is followed by a most thorough investigation into the sins of the mediator, and a repetition of the colloquy and of the exercises.
Then comes the meditation on Hell which is meditated upon in all imaginable detail, and must be experienced with all the senses: the shrieks of the damned must be heard, the stink of the smoke and sulphur must be smelt, the heat of the fire felt, and so on.
In the second week, the kingdom of Christ and his human existence are meditated on.
The becoming of Christ, the birth of Christ and the events in his life must also be meditated up on with all the senses.
The great battle between the two principles, personified by Christ and Lucifer, is then meditated on.
There are Persian models for this, Gayomart, the divine man, for instance, who falls into the power of the forces of darkness.
This is of course pre-Christian.
It is the eternal image of the fight between light and darkness.
This must be meditated upon very thoroughly, in order to gain consciousness of the existence of the opposites.
In the third week we come, logically enough, to the Passion of Christ.
This is again the suffering which originates in the battle between the opposites.
Fasting is included in the regulations for this week.
In the fourth week we come to the exercises on the love of God, and see how God enters the conflict as the power of redemption and takes man, as it were, through love back into himself.
Then comes the meditation on the appearances of Christ after death.
The transcendence of this subject is emphasized and, through his identification with this aspect of Christ, man is raised above space and time into eternity.
At the very end of the exercises come Ignatius’ celebrated “rules for thinking with the Church.”
These bring the individual psychical events into harmony with the Church, and Ignatius goes so far as to say: “the white that I see I would believe to be black, if the Hierarchical Church were so to rule it.
“This is the great reproach which is levelled at the Jesuits, that they go too far in disciplining individual judgment. ~Carl Jung, Modern Psychology, Pages 27-34.