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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Carl Jung on Ignatius and Prayer




To return to the biography of Ignatius: from Manresa he went to Barcelona and in 1523 he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

He took no money with him but begged his way.

He was only a few days in Jerusalem, because his zeal had offended some fanatical Turks and the Franciscan monks, who resided in Jerusalem,
threatened Ignatius with excommunication if he remained.

He returned to Barcelona where he realised that his education as an officer was very insufficient for his present need.

He began to learn Latin but was held up by the verb amare.

Each time he began to conjugate this verb he fell into a condition of being in love with God which was not very helpful to his Latin.

But in time he overcame this difficulty, and went on to study philosophy.

During these studies he already talked with people he met and began the original form of the exercises.

This led to some trouble with the Inquisition, which was no joke in those days.

There were trials in Alcala and Salamanca.

The people, largely women with whom he had practised the exercises, had to give evidence.

Bernhard Hegardt says :

"One of the women who were implicated gave the following information before the examining judge on May 10th, 1527.

She had begged Ignatius to teach her how she could serve God.

And Inigo had answered her that during a month she should speak with him frequently and that during this month she should confess and partake of the sacrament every eight days .

He added that the first time she would feel happy, without knowing why, that the second week she would be sad, but that he trusted in God that she would derive great benefit . . .

He said also that he would explain to her the exercise of the three spiritual powers.

He also showed her the merit that may be acquired through temptation; he spoke of the venial sin and how it can develop into a mortal sin ; and of the ten commandments and of the circumstances governing mortal sins, and of the five senses . . .

He told her that if she entered the service of God the temptations of the evil one would plague her.

He taught her self-examination which she should practise twice a day, once after the midday meal and the second time after the evening meal when she should kneel down and say:

'My God, my Father, my Creator! I thank Thee and praise Thee for all the manifold favours which Thou hast shown me, and which I hope Thou wilt still show me'."

This last prayer is typical of the western attitude.

We thank God for favours received and make this a reason for demanding more.

We do not notice this because it sounds well and we are used to the familiar words of our prayers but, as a matter of fact, religion in the West largely consists of shameless demands for what we want.

It reminds one of a rather broad Basel story about an Alsatian market woman.

She stopped at a chapel on her way to the Basel market and prayed to the Virgin for good sales, "so that I can buy greens, bread and perhaps
a little meat ".

Then she heard the Christ Child say: "And anything else?"

And she replied: "Hold your tongue boy, I am talking to your Mother! "

This story is fifty years old, but the whole psychology of begging God and the Saints for favours belongs to primitive psychology in any time.

The Saints were metaphorically beaten in the Middle Ages if they failed to produce the right weather. ~Carl Jung, ETH Lecture, 7 July 1939

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