I wish my Spanish were better and I would translate for you the many parts I love in this book, La Mistagogia de los Ejercicios, written by Javier Melloni SJ, a great ignacianista from the University of Catalunya in Barcelona and residing in Manresa. There he gives wonderful lectures to the participants of the Ignatian Immersion Course (IIC) every Spring.
Javier Melloni looks at the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola from the point of view of ‘mystagogy’:
“Mystagogy is a Greek term that literally means “initiation into the mysteries.” It is composed of two roots: “Mystos”, “belonging to the mysteries” and “Agia” noun of the verb “ago”, meaning “lead”. “Mystery”, in turn, means literally “the secret, what is hidden.” It comes from the Greek verb “myo”, “keeping lips and eyes closed”. Mystagogues, in the Hellenic world, were those priests who were initiated into the mystical experience of the sacred, through very precise rites.” (p. 21)
… “Applying the term mystagogy to the Exercises. we intend to show that the act of freedom that the Exercises encourage, springs from a bottomless Depth, which does not originate in us. The Exercises free us because they transform us; and they transform us because we come in contact with the Source of our being. Being re-created, we generate new events, for participating in the Source which gives us our being. The Exercises lead to such a Source. And they show that there is much more participation with more dispossession. Such is the Mystery in which we delve: the more we lose ourselves in God, the more we meet ourselves again. “Unless a grain of wheat dies …” (Jn 12:24).” (p. 22) …
Anyway, when my Spanish improves, I’ll be able to share more of it. Until then, I am just translating the book for myself. This morning I came upon a section in chapter 2, “The Anthropological Elements in the Exercices” dealing, among many other things, with disordered attachments (76-77).
“The disorder indicates the error of the direction, which will always be a form or another of self-centeredness and of being ‘devoured’. … The attachments are driving forces that are to be integrated, not neutralized. The “ridding oneself of all disordered attachments” is not to find oneself without attachments, but to direct them to their true purpose: the God who gives himself without possessing or devouring.”
It turns out that the “Meditation on the Three Types of People” in the Exercises is “dedicated to a becoming aware of the passive force of the afecto (the affect, or attachment), illustrating three possible relationships between affect and things. The election is held on this release and transformation of the attachments.”
The three types of people show three different reactions to the same situation. Each person receives a vast sum of money. Ten million dollars are mentioned today. I find it interesting that money seems to have always been a decisive factor in showing what sort of person one is.
The first person takes the money, thanks Godde, and spends it on herself and her family. The second person takes the money, thanks Godde, and proceeds to spend the money on causes and NGOs that will contribute to the building of the Kingdom (or the Christ Project, Louis Savary would say), all the while remaining in control of the money. The third person has ‘”no inclination either to keep the acquired money or to dispose of it. Instead [she] desires to keep it or dispose of it solely according to what Godde will move her will to choose, and also according to what [she herself] will judge to be better for the service and praise of her Divine Majesty… [She] earnestly strives not to desire that money or anything else except when she is motivated solely by the service of Godde…”(Ganss, 157)
What particularly moved me in this meditation was the grace I was to ask for: i.e. “to choose that which is more to the glory of her Divine Majesty and the salvation of my soul.” … Saving my soul somehow is not so important, but pleasing Godde is…
This morning then, thanks to Javier Melloni’s book, I had a great conversation with both Godde and Ignatius. It was one of those moments when suddenly I felt thoroughly alive and involved in something I would never have imagined otherwise. I did receive some money not so long ago, and I did spend it on myself and my family. I am thus a first person type. Agh.
“No matter which of the three classes you may fall into,” writes Louis Savary in The New Spiritual Exercises in the Spirit of Teilhard de Chardin, “Godde can use whatever you do to further the Christ Project.” (109)
Javier Melloni’s book is not translated yet into English or French, which is a pity. I find that Ignatian Spirituality comes in many flavors, Anglo-Saxon, Latin American, Spanish, French, Italian… Javier Melloni seems to have fallen into Ignatius’ magic potion at birth: he lives and breathes Ignatian Spirituality as are the other lecturers we had in Manresa this Spring. Hopefully some time soon a good translator and a fine Ignatian mind will tackle Fr. Melloni’s book. Then, expect quite a treat!
- Other works of Javier Melloni already translated: The Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola in the Western Tradition,
- “The Theological Framework of Ignatian Spirituality”
- Some of his books in Spanish
- His book La Mistagogia de los Ejercicios is his doctoral thesis, published in 2001.