An Original Point of Departure


The universal salvation history as it emerges from the Bible is fulfilled in each person’s discovery of God’s personal love expressed in his Law. This is Ignatius’ Principle and Foundation which makes us heed the Call of the King.




The conclusion of the first week of Spiritual Exercises and its main fruit is The Principle and Foundation. The resulting attitude is “indifference,” but it is important to notice that Ignatian indifference is more a point of departure for new horizons than the target of a process already undergone.

What precedes is the patrimony of the Old Testament: the heritage of the Law as the content of the covenant with God. The acquisitions of the Jewish Spirituality displayed in the Old Testament are the foundations of the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises.

The biblical concept of God who is good and the origin of all that is good, as in the account of creation in the book of Genesis, is the beginning of the very concrete experience of God in the Ignatian approach to prayer. The optimism of this concept of God, his call for relationship and encounter doesn’t diminish the transcendence and mystery of the one whom Ignatius calls “His Majesty.”

Not Negotiable
The strong, positive sense of God goes together with a lively sense of sin, nourished by the contemplation of Jesus on the cross. The Ten Commandments, in their negative formulation as prohibitions, embody and imply the victory over the inordinate attachments which results in the inner freedom (“indifference”) necessary for the spiritual progress ahead.

The Ignatian indifference doesn’t apply to God’s Law which demands to be embraced passionately. The commandments are meant to be kept according to the teaching of Moral Theology. Saint Ignatius writes in the Principle and Foundation: “It is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it.”

This makes it clear that the Ten Commandments of God are essential and not negotiable in their denial of the inordinate attachments that enslave the soul and put in danger our final salvation.

This explains the setup of the meditations for the First Week of the Exercises that Saint Ignatius shows in the book itself: the meditation on sin and hell as well as the introduction of the General and Particular Examination of Conscience in view of a general Confession and the reception of Holy Communion.

The Goal Of Our Life
It is only then that the full impact of the Principle and Foundation is understood with the attitude of indifference or inner freedom to heed the Call of the King. The complete journey of the people of God in the Old Testament becomes the foundation and the stepping stone of each person’s call to holiness.

“God created human beings to praise, revere, and serve God, and by doing this, to save their souls. God created all other things on the face of the earth to help fulfill this purpose. From this it follows that we are to use the things of this world only to the extent that they help us to this end, and we ought to rid ourselves of the things of this world to the extent that they get in the way of this end,” writes Saint Ignatius.

The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our response to love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit. All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily. As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. Our “indifference” (inner freedom) is availability to love.

A Call To Love
The Principle and Foundation can be also seen as diagnostic. It explores whether a person has truly grasped at an interior level the experience of God’s creative and sustaining love. Until people can claim that gift of God’s love on a personal level, they cannot hear God’s words of forgiveness or the call in freedom in the rest of the Exercises.

Put in another way, the Principle and Foundation explores a person’s operative image of God. Just by being on earth, then, each of us has a unique original purpose. We each have a personal vocation from God. The Principle and Foundation invites us to see the world as a product of love.

We have to affirm the goodness of the world. The first grace is to know that each one of us is a product of God’s love. The Contemplation to Gain Divine Love which is the point of arrival of Saint Ignatius’ spirituality starts already in what is presupposed at the beginning of the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises.

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