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Foundation Principle

This past Friday we celebrated the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. St Ignatius’s letters and other writings are a great source for spiritual reading.  I came upon something that I needed to be reminded of, especially in these days of uncertainty and anxiety. And it deals with reorienting ourselves toward God. It’s called the “Foundation Principle”. 

When we talk about this principle we are talking about a person’s life being dedicated to God—-our very being is dedicated to God. We no longer live for ourselves. Our aim in life is to please God. We begin to recall God’s presence in our life throughout each day, and we do it frequently. We present ourselves to God as we really are, that is, with our weaknesses. There is no cover up, as we often do with other people. We realize that God knows our limitations and our tendency toward evil. So, we’re sincere with God. We take our eyes off ourselves and fix our eyes on Christ, believing what he has told us: I have come to call sinners, not those who think themselves saints. 

We let Christ have our life to do with as he wants. We ask that we be allowed to see what he wants, and then ask for the grace to live what he reveals to us. Many of us live life as if we are on our own. But actually, Christ is right there beside us, ready to be active in our life if we let Him. When we allow God to have a relationship with us, God becomes one with us. 

We will still have challenges, but there will also be consolations along the way. We slowly begin to realize that God has given each of us some work he hasn’t given to anyone else. There is a purpose to our life that gradually is revealed to us.

There’s a story about two Native American boys who go through an initiation rite. They are taken into the wilderness and left alone. At night they hear strange noises—-perhaps the sound of wild animals! They are not able to fall asleep. So they pray out loud to the spirits of those who are deceased. They wait for dawn, which comes much too slowly! They wait so that they can make the journey back home, if they are ever able to find their way back home!

But then the sun rises. The two boys look around and there is the boys’ father who has been there all night. He is silent. He has not revealed to the boys that he was there the whole time. The truth is that the father would never have allowed any harm to come to the boys. 

So it is with us and God. God seems silent, but his powerful presence is with us. He hears our prayer. We get closer to Him the more we include him in our daily lives. And gradually we begin to see what he is asking of us in the day to day circumstances of our life. We learn to love the way Christ loves us—doing what is best for others. We are more aware that the talents we have are really gifts from God, not given to make ourselves great, but to serve those around us. 

We start to realize God has a profound and loving interest in us. 

Perhaps you could take just 20 seconds out of your day to say to Jesus, “You are there, My God, I trust you. I love you and adore you.” And while you’re saying that little prayer remember what St Paul writes in Romans: nothing can separate us from the love of God. 

Let me close this morning with this very famous prayer that St. Ignatius wrote. It cuts to the heart of his “Foundation Principle”:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,

My memory, my understanding,

And my entire will,

All I have and call my own.


You have given all to me.

To you, Lord, I return it.


Everything is yours; do with it what you will.

Give me only your love and your grace,

That is enough for me.

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