We can agree that working out is a great thing. Doctors recommend it. It is good for your body and it produces those wonderful endorphins! You sign up for a gym membership and you start feeling better in your twice a week workout. Slowly this becomes 3, 4, 5 times a week. You notice your thoughts becoming fixated on working out. You are obsessed about your appearance, losing another 5 pounds or adding another 10 pounds to your bench press weight. A practice that was once a gift for cultivating healthiness and balance becomes an all-consuming compulsion.
Similarly, God blesses us with many gifts. Gifts are the created things in this world that we engage in our daily life. They can be anything in the created world including talents, material things, people, wealth, health, or nature. If not properly channeled, however, these gifts can become real addictions. We may have been given the gift of access to money. Money can buy us food, shelter, healthcare or it can become a compulsion to buy the latest fads or obsess about appearing rich. We are gifted with many wonderful relationships in our life but it is evident that many of our friends feel suffocated by our “neediness” to be with them. In this light, any good gift has the potential to become an addiction.
The first thing Ignatius encouraged people to do in the First Principle and Foundation was to recognize that all created gifts were only useful insofar as they helped us glorify God. The moment we start glorifying the gifts themselves is when we have formed an unhealthy attachment. They take the place of God in our attention and energy as opposed to means to encounter God.
The aim of this meeting is to be honest about the things that we are too attached to. When we are honest, we can choose to change our unhealthy use of gifts and move toward freedom. True freedom means we can love others more fully, be more receptive to the way God is working in our lives, and come closer to fulfilling our personal vocation. The “Everything But…” activity in this meeting helps open the conversation to these topics.
- Meditation music
- Binders to use as hard surfaces
- Little pieces of paper
Ask for the grace to affirm our giftedness as bestowed by God as well come to greater awareness of our addictions and how they ultimately point to our desire for God.
How have you used one of your gifts this week?
Activity: “Everything But…”
- How did it feel to let go of all these things?
- Were there some things that were easier to let go of than others?
- How did you make your decisions?
- Did your feelings change over the course of the activity?
Distribute the First Principle and Foundation handout.
- How does the First Principle and Foundation affirm or challenge your orientation during the activity?
- Is there anything that you are feeling called to let go of?
- Is there anything that you are feeling more grateful for?
- Is there anything that you would like to reflect upon further in the coming weeks?
Pay attention to the circumstances you feel most alive in the week as well as when you are most likely to give into people, activities, or thoughts where you might be not be fully free. Do not judge. Just take note.
"Prayer for Detachment" by Bl. Peter Faber, SJ
I beg of you, my Lord,
to remove anything which separates
me from you, and you from me.
Remove anything that makes me unworthy
of your sight, your control, your reprehension;
of your speech and conversation,
of your benevolence and love.
Cast from me every evil
that stands in the way of my seeing you,
hearing, tasting, savoring, and touching you;
fearing and being mindful of you;
knowing, trusting, loving, and possessing you;
being conscious of your presence
and, as far as may be, enjoying you.
This is what I ask for myself
and earnest desire from you. Amen.
“This Spirit-inspired love respects the uniqueness of each personal vocation and enables us to be open and free, always at the disposal of God. …” (CLC-USA General Principles #2)
“We grow in this freedom by gradually bringing an order of values into our lives so that we find that at the moment of choice or decision we are not swayed by any disordered love.”(Spiritual Exercises )
“Now there are a varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
“These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.” 1 Corinthians 2:10-12