Thursday, May 12, 2011

Happy Saints and Indifference

(This is the 2nd musing on the spiritual discipline of indifference.  Read #1)

I love this picture of St. Ignatius I found online and that it comes from! 

A student had told me that she thought the discipline of indifference came from St. Ignatius of Loyala.  At my women's weekend away last week, I Googled Ignatius and indifference and found a lot of materials which I shared with my friends. 

When we weren’t debating my friend’s qualities for eHarmony (read here) or stuffing our faces with delicious food or being treated to a massage by our hubbies, we argued about indifference.

Here’s the conclusion from a pdf I found online:

Ignatian Indifference Brings Spiritual Freedom

For God’s love, for Christ’s Love I should be willing and prepared:

To be Rich or to be Poor
To be clever or to be dull,
To be handsome or to be ugly,
To be strong or to be weak,
To be attractive or to be repulsive,
To be educated or to be illiterate,
To be healthy or to be sick,
To be active or to be jobless,
To be considered or to be forgotten,
To be loved or to be ignored,
To be Successful or to A Failure,
To be honored or to be despised,
To be rewarded or to be passed over,
To be popular or to be unknown,
To have friends or to be lonely,
To live long or to die soon.

On neither can I set my Heart• • •
In both I can equally serve God
Each is a gift of God,
And as such of equal value.

This only truly matters
To lovingly choose whatever God Wills
And to generously carry it out,

He loved me into existence,
Because in Him I am, I move, I live.

The left side of the column ensnares, but the right side of the column hurts!  It’s pretty hard to be indifferent to either.

Most of the debate came over whether God wills suffering—is loneliness or disease really God’s gift?  Does God really see both sides having equal value?

But as one who’s spent a significant chunk of her life trying whole-heartedly to follow God’s will, I can say definitively that following God doesn’t keep you from experiencing the right column rather than the left.  In Christian language, the right column is called “the way of the cross.”

To make matters worse, when I’m experiencing the left column, I can spend an awful lot of time feeling guilty rather than enjoying the gifts of God.

That's why I love the idea of a website called!  Given that most of those saints were martyred or suffered in terrible ways, to characterize them as ultimately happy feels encouraging!  Because God promises joy whether you find yourself living on the left or the right.   

Maybe the spiritual discipline of indifference to everything but God's will is the path towards receiving the gift of God's presence and joy no matter the circumstances.  Maybe someday I too will be a happy saint!


Tara Edelschick said...

If indifference is simply that, "for Christ's love," I should be willing and prepared to be sick or poor lonely, AMEN! If, however, I need to say that sickness is always a gift of God, I say GROSS.

Jesus wept at Lazarus' death and over the fate of Jerusalem. He turned over tables when people were being ripped off, and called people evil vipers. Now, we can play word games and say that he was being indifferent to everything that wasn't the will of God and very passionate about those things that were the will of God, but that distorts any understanding we have of indifference. If Jesus could passionately rage against sickness, death, and sin, so can we. So should we. If he could celebrate the Passover, so can and should we.

Of course, we should not make idols out of things that are merely good gifts. But neither should we receive them passively. Wine, friendship, sex, hard work, intimacy with Christ, glorifying God when things suck -- these are all things to celebrate.

Famine and tsunamis and child sex trafficking are not as good as communion and shalom and love. In all we can worship and enjoy God. That doesn't make them equal.

(Geez, I guess I am not indifferent to indifference.)

Tara Edelschick said...

I should add that I do really like the happy saint!

Victor Teh said...

Tks for sharing the Happy Saints :)