A thought from the practices of St Ignatius of Loyola founder of the Jesuit order.

In his ‘Spiritual Exercises‘ Ignatius directs us to discern the desires of our own hearts.  By this he means to recognise the nature of our desires and the affect they have on our life.

We are all filled with desires, great and small.  While typing these words I have given in to my desire for chocolate, consuming a Ripple and half a Double Decker (single decker!).

I am quite taken by the encouragement to discern between those desires which are inspired by God that lead us towards God and those that lead us away from God.

I recently spent a little time thinking on the reality that the Christian faith is not a moral code.  It is not a series of right and wrong actions, nor is it about right and wrong people.  It is the belief that a God who is right chose to invite us to follow him, making it possible for us to do so in the process.

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?                    Solzhenitsyn , The Gulag Archipelago

I find the practice of recognising desires and learning to discern their source and inevitable outcome to be quite a helpful one in determining which path to choose when many paths present themselves.


Pull up a chair and join the conversation


Words have a prime place in the history of Gods actions in this world.  In the beginning God the Father, spoke the Word in God the Son as God the Holy Spirit hovered over the emptiness.  (John 1:1-3Genesis 1:1-3) A wonderful picture of the three persons of God in harmony, relationship and corporate action, implementing the divine plan of creation.


In the time of Jesus’ birth we are again at a beginning, God becoming man.  In Luke 1:35 we find Mary is told that God the Spirit would come upon her, in the power of the Most High God and Jesus, the Son of God would be born. Three persons of God in action again as the God procession arrives to the time and place-ness of Incarnation.


Jesus, the Son of God stands waist deep (I imagine) in the Jordan, the voice of God the Father speaks out ‘This is my beloved Son, in Him I am well pleased’ and the Spirit of God descends upon Jesus in the form of a dove. (Matthew 3:16-17) God, Three Persons, the will of God expressed again in history. Salvation

I often pause on the question why at this point did God the Father express his pleasure with Jesus. He firstly expressed His love for his Son which we understand as being the nature of the relationship since before the creation of space and time. Why now express pleasure.

I reflect on the significance of Baptism. Baptism; an outward expression of an inward reality communicates death to self and new life free from the power of sin. Here we have Jesus, sinless being baptised without sin. Why? Jesus baptism expresses his willingness to stand with sinful man. To stand on behalf of others sin. To die because of the sins of others. The Father is pleased as the Son lives up to the call. (Eph 4:1) Stop and consider the contrast. When Christ died the Father turned his back.


Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. Follow me. (Matt 4:18-20) The great mystery of Gods will is that he has invited us to participate in it. We are not merely objects of Gods affection nor are we the subjects creating, choosing and driving the will of God in history but we are respondents. We are invited to follow, an action that is active but yet not proactive. It is entirely responsive. One cannot follow and choose the direction. One cannot follow without a subject creating or choosing a path ahead of us. We are invited to participate in the great procession of God, in the dance of the Trinity in place and Time, in the heavenward calling of Gods family. It is a great privilege to be invited.


Here my train of thought arrives back to the start. Words. Have you ever found yourself in the presence of a group of people but excluded from the conversation? For whatever reason. Have you ever had the experience of being excluded from the conversation and then someone notices you, opens the conversation, moves the chairs back and creates a space for you and includes you in the conversation. You have something to say, you have ears to listen, you are part of the group now, part of the conversation. Words are significant.

Ezekiel 3:4,10 is one of many examples of God involving man in the conversation, “listen to the words I speak to you….. go speak to them” We are called to be prophets and teachers, we are called to pray without ceasing. God chose men to write down his words, to take the good news across nations, to plead with him for the lives of friends and indeed whole cities.

Prayer. Jesus draws us into the conversation through prayer. Daily we are to speak with God, to pour out, to ask, to bless, to praise, to worship, the conversation has many colours.

In the will of God all things have been created, God himself has become a man and has become the way for all men to be saved. God has invited us to follow, to participate in His will, starting in time and space with a heavenly and eternal destination. God then has paused the conversation created a space and said “Come now, pull up a chair and join the conversation”