Essential Opening to Love


The fruit of the first week of the Spiritual Exercises is named by Ignatius as Indifference. The meaning is not lack of interest but inner spiritual freedom.




Ignatius named the outcome for the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, which embraces the spirituality borne out of faithfulness to the Covenant with God found in the Old Testament, as Indifference. This Indifference is not a lack of interest but inner spiritual freedom. This Indifference can also be identified with the Gospel’s poverty of spirit or childlike attitude. This inner spiritual freedom is the reason why the personal encounter with the Christian Mystery becomes possible and fruitful, especially with the remaining three weeks of these Spiritual Exercises.

Ignatius urges us to seek the freedom of detachment or indifference. Neither of these words carries weight in today’s language or culture. Both sound cold and uncaring, which is far from the spirit in which Ignatius used them. A better word might be inner freedom.

Bees And Flowers
In his First Principle and Foundation, Ignatius talks about “making use of those things that help to bring us closer to God and leaving aside those things that don’t.” We can visualize the wisdom of this attitude if we observe the bees going from flower to flower and selecting the pollen they need for their purpose.

Although the bees choose some flowers and disregard other plants growing in the courtyard, other insects seek their nourishment from different sources. In choosing what is exactly right for them, they are not only receiving their own nourishment but are also playing an essential role in the fruitfulness of their environment.

And in choosing one plant rather than another, they are in no way rejecting or denigrating the others. The secret of this harmonious, cooperative life seems to lie in each creature’s being true to its own essential nature. Each gains what it needs for survival and growth from the source that is right for it, and it does so without harm either to itself or to the flowers. In fact, after each encounter, both insect and flower are left in a richer state than before: the insect has been nourished and the flower has been pollinated.

This picture is a vivid illustration of what it might mean to “make use of what leads to life” and to leave aside what, for each individual, does not lead to life. It is a truly creative kind of “detachment.” It helps us to understand what God might be calling us to when He asks us to let go of our attachments. The bees make no attempt to “possess” the flowers, nor do the flowers attempt to trap and hold the bees. This is a free interchange, perfectly fulfilling the needs of the bees, the flowers, and the wider circle of creation around them.

Poverty Of Spirit
The evangelical counsels or imperatives are conditions that Jesus puts on those who want to be in His following. Jesus chose not to marry and He praised the eunuchs for the Kingdom of God. He loved single-mindedly His Father and us, His brethren.

Jesus emptied himself in order to share our condition and chose to be poor to make us rich. He came to accomplish the Father’s will: His food and His drink were to do the will of His Father. This will was for Jesus to save us from everlasting death, to redeem us from the slavery of sin, and to unite us with God, sharing God’s life as adopted sons and daughters of the Father, brothers, and sisters of Jesus and the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ example is the only reason for the existence of every vocation. Poverty is the door to the radical following of Jesus. This is why Saint Francis of Assisi took “Lady Poverty” as his lover and wife. This is a poetic interpretation of the exemplary vocation of Saint Francis of Assisi in the famous literary masterpiece The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri.

“Lady Poverty” was on the Cross with Jesus. But after Jesus, “Lady Poverty” was neglected and nobody took a real interest in her until Francis came and fell in love with her. He wanted to fulfill the Gospel sine glossa (without comment or compromise), the pure Gospel. He wanted to follow Jesus in a radical way. And “poverty of spirit,” the first of the Beatitudes, is the door to it: an essential opening to love.

Poverty proclaims that God is our only treasure. Poverty states that being is more important than having, people are more important than things, and whatever we have is not ours. Poverty means to want less and to thank more. Poverty is the availability to love. This is the Indifference that Saint Ignatius requires from those who are preparing to follow Jesus in prayer along with the mysteries of His life and death out of love in the following weeks of the Spiritual Exercises.

Share Your Thoughts

All comments are moderated

From The Same Issue

The articles and content about this issue

From The Same Issue

The articles and content about this issue

From This Topic

The articles and content about this topic

From This Topic

The articles and content about this topic

Explore Other Topics

Browse other coverage

Explore Other Topics

Browse other coverage


Presents, discusses and draws readers to reflect on issues of outmost relevance to the world today.


Very often, mission is carried out in frontier situations around the world. Those who embrace these situations have much to share.


Writer Ilsa Reyes will be exploring the richness of Pope Francis’s latest encyclical Fratelli Tutti with a view of helping our readers to get a grasp of the this beautiful papal document.


Puts to the front committed and inspiring people around the world who embrace humanitarian and religious causes with altruism and passion.


Focus on a given theme of interest touching upon social, economic and religious issues.


As the Philippines prepares to celebrate 500 years of the arrival of Christianity. Fr. James Kroeger leads us in this series into a discovery journey of the landmark events in the history of faith in the Philippine archipelago.


Aims to nurture and inspire our hearts and minds while pondering upon timely themes.


The large archipelago of the Philippines, in its richness of peoples and cultures, offers varied and challenging situations for mission.


Reflections and vocation stories that shape up the lives of young people.


As humor and goodness of heart are qualities of Christian and missionary life, the new column “Mission is fun” will be publishing some anecdotes and stories that have happened in a missionary context to lighten up the spirits and trigger a smile in our faces.


To help readers of World Mission live this year dedicated to Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples, Tita Puangco, writer and lecturer, shares in this section insights on the spirituality of communion.


A historic view of the Catholic movements that emerged from the grassroots as an inspiration by the Holy Spirit.


On the Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples, radio host and communicator Ilsa Reyes, in her monthly column, encourages Christians and people of good will to be one with their fellow people of other sects, religions and tribes.


Questions to a personality of the Church or secular world on matters of interest that touch upon the lives of people.


News from the Church, the missionary world and environment that inform and form the consciences.


A feature on environmental issues that are affecting the whole world with the view of raising awareness and prompting action.


The editor gives his personal take on a given topic related to the life of the Church, the society or the world.


A monthly column on themes touching the lives of young people in the Year of the Youth in the Philippines by radio host and communicator I lsa Reyes.


A missionary living in the Chinese world shares his life-experiences made up of challenges and joyous encounters with common people.


Life stories of people who deserve to be known for who they were, what they did and what they stood for in their journey on earth.


Stories of people whom a missionary met in his life and who were touched by Jesus in mysterious ways.


Critical reflection from a Christian perspective on current issues.


Comboni missionary Fr. Lorenzo Carraro makes a journey through history pinpointing landmark events that changed the course of humanity.


A biographical sketch of a public person, known for his/her influence in the society and in the Church, showing an exemplary commitment to the service of others.


Gives fresh, truthful, and comprehensive information on issues that are of concern to all.


A column aimed at helping the readers live their Christian mission by focusing on what is essential in life and what it entails.


Peoples, events, religion, culture and the society of Asia in focus.


The human heart always searches for greatness in God’s eyes, treading the path to the fullness of life - no matter what it takes.


The subcontinent of India with its richness and variety of cultures and religions is given center stage.


The African continent in focus where Christianity is growing the fastest in the world.


Well-known writer and public speaker, Fr. Jerry Orbos, accompanies our journey of life and faith with moments of wit and inspiration based on the biblical and human wisdom.


On the year dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyala, Fr. Lorenzo Carraro walks us through the main themes of the Ignatian spirituality.


Fr. John Taneburgo helps us to meditate every month on each of the Seven Last Words that Jesus uttered from the cross.


In this section, Fr. Lorenzo delves into the secrets and depths of the Sacred Scriptures opening for us the treasures of the Sacred Book so that the reader may delight in the knowledge of the Word of God.


Reflections about the synodal journey on a conversational and informal style to trigger reflection and sharing about the synodal path the Church has embarked upon.

Shopping Cart