Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Ask the Lord for what you desire

The online retreat I made years ago kept surprising me. One of the surprises was Ignatius of Loyola's stance on desiring. I'd expected it to be about eradicating all desires, but I couldn't have been more wrong - the retreat is built on desire. I still have trouble getting this, it just seems too good to be true, so when I saw an article by Fr. James Martin SJ on Ignatian spirituality and desiring, I thought I'd paste a part of it here, if only to remind myself .....


What Do You Want?

[...] I realized why Jesus, in the Gospels, may have asked people what they want. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asks the blind beggar named Bartimaeus, before healing him. Naming our desires tells us something about who we are .... Expressing our desires brings us into a closer relationship with God. Otherwise, it would be like never telling a friend your innermost thoughts. Your friend would remain distant. When we tell God our desires, our relationship to God deepens.

Desire is a primary way that God leads people to discover who they are and what they are meant to do. On the most obvious level, a man and a woman feel sexual, emotional and spiritual desire for one another, and in this way discover their vocations to be married. A person feels an attraction to being a doctor, or a lawyer, or a teacher, and so discovers his or her "vocation."

Desire helps us find our way. But we first have to know them.

The deep longings of our hearts are our holy desires. Not only desires for physical healing, but also the desires for change, for growth, for a fuller life. Our deepest desires, those desires that lead us to become who we are, are God's desires for us. They are ways that God speaks to you directly.

Desire gets a bad rap in many spiritual circles-- because desires are often confused with selfish wants. But our selfish wants -- I want a new car because my friend has one; I want a bigger TV because my brother-in-law has one; I want a more expensive suit so that people will think I'm cool -- are different than our deep, heartfelt longings, which lead us to God. And it takes time to be able to discern between the two kinds of desires.

Desire is a key part of spirituality because desire is a key way that God's voice is heard in our lives. And our deepest desire, planted within us, is our desire for God.



Blogger Deacon Denny said...

Hi Crystal --

I was touched by this post, and it reminded my how wonderful the Exercises were for me, in centering my life.

I remember when I first did the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL), some 26+ years ago. Locating and awakening DESIRE, for me, took up a lot of time at the very beginning of the retreat. It was well-spent; my life was encountering major changes. Our family moved from living in a shared community to living on our own, and I took a completely different job; so my home environment, vocation, and family relationships were all changing very dramatically. Discovering (or re-discovering) my heart's desire(s) was so moving and centering. It set the stage for my 35-60 years, and it's been hopeful and good.

I made the retreat again a few years ago, as my wife and I began to look at the upcoming "empty nest" and eventual retirement. The verdict is out on that, so far... I'm in the midst of those changes!

But I can DEFIITELY say that I have experienced God's love for me, in seeking to understand the deepest longings of my heart. After all, God made me -- in some way, God put those longings there.

1:28 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Denny,

Thanks for commenting :) It must be really rewarding to make the exercises with someone you love, like your wife.

I remember too when I took that retreat in everyday life - 10 years ago - and was told that what I desired mattered, that I should try to know what my desires were. I was so bitter that I said 'a person who speaks their desires when they know they can't realize them is a loser' and the spiritual director told me "a person who deosn't acknowledge their desires, whether they can realize them or not, is a loser.' It took me a long time to believe that and to believe God was so good that he cared what we wish for. Still working on it.

2:58 PM  

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