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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Philip Endean SJ on the Two Standards

Ignatius of Loyola's feast day is coming up (July 31) and I've been thinking about the Two Standards, a meditation from the Spiritual Exercises that describes two armies on a plain - Lucifer and those who follow him under a banner or standard at one end, Jesus and those who follow him under another banner across from him ....

[...] see a great field of all that region of Jerusalem, where the supreme Commander-in-chief of the good is Christ our Lord; another field in the region of Babylon, where the chief of the enemy is Lucifer .... imagine as if the chief of all the enemy seated himself in that great field of Babylon, as in a great chair of fire and smoke, in shape horrible and terrifying .... So, on the contrary, one has to imagine as to the supreme and true Captain, Who is Christ our Lord ... consider how Christ our Lord puts Himself in a great field of that region of Jerusalem, in lowly place, beautiful and attractive .... get me grace ... that I may be received under His standard ...

I've been reading Karl Rahner and Ignatian Spirituality by Philip Endean SJ in which he mentions the modern take on the Two Standards (p. 188) .....


How can we reconcile Rahner's 'immediate experience of God' with a conviction that such experience must be, in Ignatian terms, under the 'standard' of Christ. (18) If God is truly creator of all that exists, what is the place for a unique, saving Jesus Christ who seems to divide the world into those for him and against him, and who, in Augustinian fashion, appears to override the creation's original goodness? .....

(18) A key moment in the Exercises is the meditation on Twp Standards, one Christ's, one Lucifer's, encouraging the retreatant to become aware of insidious temptations to egoism, and to pray to be received in poverty under the standard of Christ (Exx, nn. 136-47). 'Standard' is the established translation for bandera. In the original, the connotations are purely military, but the suggestion that Christ provides a standard, or norm, for our choice is surely in keeping with Ignatius's wider concerns, whereas the military imagery has become embarrassing. A recent study of this meditation, tracing the ideas back to Augustine's City of God, is Stefan Kiechle, 'Die ignatianische Meditation der "Zwei Banner": Zu ihrer Traditionsgeschichte von Augustinus bis Ignatius von Loyola', Geist und Leben, 66 (1993), 188-201


I'm not sure why I'm attracted to the imagery of the Two Standards or what that says about my ideas of Jesus.


Blogger Deacon Denny said...

Out of the special exercises that Ignatius presents, the Two Standards is the one I had the most trouble with. It'll be very interesting to see how you paint it, Crystal.

4:09 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Denny,

Thanks for the encouragement :)

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Richard said...

Funny how military imagery is so compelling in literature, I'm thinking lord of the rings etc. Given Ignatius' frame of reference a reasonable metaphor, but also speaks of his insight into the significance and scope of this battle for our souls. Will your painting have siege machines and trebuchets?

9:34 AM  
Blogger Cura Animarum said...

For myself I saw the two standards as not so much a division of the world (us vs them) but a division within myself (me vs me). It remains for me a compelling image probably because, like your painting, I'm still 'a work in progress'.

Been following your posts on this piece since you started and I'm extremely excited to see the finished project!

1:28 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


I thought of Lord of the Rings too :)

Nope, no seige machines, more's the pity :). I have a pretty small siz of paper to work with, about 9x11", so I can't stuff too much in there and have the people be anything but stick figures.

2:04 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Cura,

Yeah, I think that's where the real competition always is - us vs us. Maybe Ignatius was thinking of how we're listening to two voices, the good spirit's and the bad spirit's? Thanks for the encouragement :)

2:08 PM  

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