Earlier this year, I used my nightly radio show to lead a retreat based upon the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Although it was hard work it produced great benefits in many of our spiritual lives. Even though I’d heard of St. Ignatius and his Spiritual Exercises for many years, I knew very little about him or his teaching. Looking back on the experience, there was one lesson I learned that changed my life forever. It’s a simple concept and it can change your life too. It involves St. Ignatius’ motto:
“Ad majorem dei Gloriam”
Latin for “for the greater glory of God”, this expression is much more than a “cutesy” catch phase. When put into practice, it will not only ensure that you’re giving God your best effort, but it will put you on the fast track to Heaven! What it means is simply this – everything that you do should be done for the greater glory of God. Yeah, so…don’t we all do this? Not really. When we have to make a choice between two options, we often go with the choice that “feels good” or is less unpleasant. Unfortunately, that’s not always the choice that gives God the greater glory. He sometimes wants us to do something that we’d rather avoid. You know, like talking to that annoying person after Mass or turning off the TV and saying some prayers instead. Think about the many choices you make each day and then think about why you make them. How often do we take the easy way out instead of doing the right thing? While judging our personal motives can sometimes be tricky (because we fool ourselves), frequent prayer can open our eyes and help us to look at things objectively.
If there’s one thing that we should learn from the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, it’s that every decision, every action, every word we speak should be done for the greater glory of God. When faced with a decision, asking the question, “what would God want me to do?” puts St. Ignatius’ important teaching into practice. By doing that, we can honestly say that we’re loving God with all of our heart, soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:4)!
St. Ignatius of Loyola, pray for us!