Thoughts for September 7 from Fr Willie Doyle

St Ignatius

To be indifferent does not mean to desire things which are hard to nature, but a readiness and determination to embrace them when once the will of God is known. In this sense I think I am indifferent about going to the Congo. But I must force myself to be willing to accept the way of life which God seems to be leading me to and wants me to adopt. My God, I dread it but “not my will but Thine”.

COMMENT: Fr Doyle, as a Jesuit was well schooled in the spiritual exercises. Indifference plays a big role in the teaching of St Ignatius. As the saint says in the first week of the spiritual exercises:

For this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honour rather than dishonour, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created.

Fr Doyle did not want to live through the horrors of the Great War. He did not want to live a life of self-denial in both little and big things. It’s also clear from today’s quote that he did not want to be a missionary in the Congo (he offered but was refused by his superiors). But he gave himself to all of these things because he thought it was the will of God.

Such “indifference” does not mean apathy or not having a will of our own. But it does mean being open to God’s will, even if it is hard and even if it is contrary to our own wishes. In this sense, Ignatian indifference implies a high degree of holiness. We may not actually possess this level of indifference, but wanting to possess it is a good start.