Practicing Salvation

I was the kid who saved her allowance.

I’m the person who works hard when she doesn’t have to so that when she can’t work hard she has a little capital built up – both social and financial. I try to be prepared. That often saves me.

A cornerstone of Ignatian Spirituality is the Spiritual Exercises, which are exactly what they sound like: practices that aim to help one grow spiritually in order to discern and live well. They have a specific pattern and focus, but the concept is broad: work your prayer muscles and they will get stronger.

I learned to pray through sadness, and when the sadness lifted I continued. I went to daily mass throughout college without really being able to articulate any positive effect it was having on me. I’ve read devotional books and joined prayer groups. I’ve given my time to cultivating the silence in which God speaks.

Lately, life is harder and busier and more confusing. There’s too much chaos, too many things I can’t control. There are times it is hard to pray, when I allow the blessed silence to be conquered by the rustle of anxiety, when I am angry and don’t want to hope. But hope is a muscle I built during years when it was easy. That is what is saving me.

Who knew what virtue I would need to be strong? So I tried to build all of them, slowly and childishly. Now when I need trust or optimism or even sanity, I can look for them in the places I asked them to grow. Even if I don’t see them flourishing, I can see their shadows. They are enough for now. They are saving me.

I am a careful enough theologian to note that there is just one thing that saves me: God’s abundant grace. But it is easy to run from grace, to shake God from my shoulders when grace tries to wrap me in herself. The only thing that gives me faith is that I have practiced and practiced and practiced. It is a mystery but also very simple. Like salvation, I suppose.

Today is the feast of St Ignatius Loyola, who tells us “love ought to show itself in deeds more than in words”. Though I love words ardently, I see what he was getting at. So I keep doing those deeds that I know have given me life before, even if I don’t feel the love I am trying to show, in hopes that if I keep practicing at some point I’ll get it right.

Inspired by Sarah Bessey’s syncroblog asking What is Saving You Right Now?
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4 Responses to Practicing Salvation

  1. Pingback: Particular thankfulness | Felice mi fa

  2. Pingback: 7 things I tend to save | Felice mi fa

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