At the heart of St Ignatius Spiritual Exercises is the choice between the Two Standards or Banners, one belongs to Christ, the other to the Prince of this World. Those doing the exercise must make the choice. The Church itself and its leaders, as must all Christians must make the choice which ultimately is Christ or the Devil. Now what was it Francis has said about prayer: Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil!
In his meditation of the second week of the Spiritual Exercises Saint Ignatius of Loyola presents to us "On the Two Standards" telling us we are faced with making a choice: "The one of Christ, our Commander-in-chief and Lord; the other Lucifer, mortal enemy of our human nature." Loyola places in front of us the choice of how we are going to live our lives, either for Christ or against Christ, either for good, or for evil. Why sell our soul for money, power and fame when the Lord offers us a life that's attractive and beautiful through the virtues of spiritual --and possibly in actual poverty, contempt for worldly honor and humility against pride? Poverty, whether spiritual and/or actual, obedience and humility are virtues that lead to all other virtue and everlasting life in Jesus Christ.I am beginning to think of Pope Francis as being rather like an old fashioned Jesuit missioner. Those who knew those two Jesuits Fr Hugh Thwaites and Fr John Edwards, both of whom died in the last few months, who I can't help thinking of as the last of the English Jesuits, might understand from them something of Pope Francis' spirituality. At their heart was the choice that they had made to stand under the standard of Christ.
They had a "stripped down" attitude to life summed up in Fr Hugh's battered old car, or Fr John's simple hitting between the eyses preaching. Both were men who were hungry for souls, who could distill the faith into a few short words, both lived it uncomprisingly themselves, both desired it to be contagious, and both were men of profound devotion (and to be honest both were devout but ghastly liturgists, Jesuits, for the most part, don't understand liturgy).But most importantly they expected those they came in contact with to make the choice for Christ, they would encourage, speak about the sweetness and the joy of the Cross. There was nothing flabby or efete about their spirituality, it was the same spirituality that had led Edmond Campion and Bl. Ralph Sherwin to Tyburn and Francis Xavier to the ends of the world. It also led them to be despised by many of their own brethren, and to be regarded as saints by the poor they gave their lives to serve.
Link (here) to read the full piece at Fr. Ray Blake's Blog