Ignatian Rules for Thinking With the Church



St. Ignatius of Loyola; The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, Spanish and English, with a Continuous commentary; Tr. Joseph Rickaby, S.J.; New York, NY, Benziger Brothers, 1923, 231 pp.


These are at the end of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.


The first:  Laying aside all criticism, we ought to hold our mind ready and prompt to obey in all things the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, which is our holy Mother the hierarchical Church.


The second:  To praise confession to a priest, and the reception of the Most Holy Sacrament once a year, and much more every month, and much better once a week, [and better still every day as a later Pontiff exclaimed] with the requisite and due conditions.


The third:  To praise the frequent hearing of Mass, likewise chants, psalms, and long prayers in church and out of church:  likewise the hours ordained at an appointed time for all Divine Office and for all prayer and all canonical Hours.


The fourth:  Much to praise religious orders, virginity, and continence; and matrimony not so much as any of the above.


The fifth:  To praise vows of religion, of obedience, of poverty, of chastity, and of other perfections of supererogation.  And it is to be noticed that, whereas a vow is concerning things that approach to evangelical perfection, so in things that are removed from such perfection there ought not to be made a vow, for example, of engaging in trade, of getting married, etc.


The sixth:  To praise relics of Saints, paying veneration to the one, and making prayer to the other:  praising stations, pilgrimages, indulgences, jubilees, Bulas Crusadas, and lighted candles in the churches.


The seventh:  To praise Constitutions concerning fasts and abstinences, as of Lent, Ember Days, Vigils, Friday and Saturday:  likewise penances, not internal, but also external.


The eighth:  To praise decorations and buildings of churches, likewise images, and to venerate them according to what they represent.


The ninth:  To praise in fine all precepts of the Church, holding the mind ready to find reasons in her defense and nowise in her offence.


The tenth:  We ought to be more ready to approve and praise as well the Constitutions and Ordinances as also the personal conduct of our Superiors; because, granting that they are not or were no such as to merit praise, to speak against them, whether by preaching in public or in conversation with men of the common sort, would engender rather murmuring and scandal than spiritual profit; and there by the people would grow indignant against their rulers, whether temporal or spiritual.  Thus as it is hurtful, in the absence of Superiors, to speak ill of them to people of no position, so it may be profitable to speak of their evil behavior to those same persons who can remedy the evil.


The eleventh:  To praise Positive and Scholastic doctrine; because as it is more proper to the Positive Doctors, as for instance St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory, etc., to move the affections in all things to love and serve God our Lord, so it is more proper to the Scholastics, as St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, and the Master of the Sentences, etc., to define or explain for our times the things necessary for eternal salvation, and further to impugn and expose all errors and all fallacies:  because the Scholastic Doctors, as being more modern, no only profit by the true understanding of Holy Scripture and by the Positive and Holy Doctors, but also, being themselves, illuminated and enlightened by the divine power, are aided by the Councils, Canons and Constitutions of our Holy Mother Church.


The twelfth:  We ought to beware of making comparisons between those who, like ourselves, are still living and the blessed of olden times, because no little error is committed on this point:  I mean by saying the ‘So and So knows more than St. Augustine’ ‘this is another St. Francis, or greater’ ‘this is another St. Paul in goodness, holiness, etc.’


The thirteenth:  To make sure of being right in all things we ought always to hold by the principle that the white that I see I would believe to be black, if the Hierarchical Church were so to rule it, -- believing that between Christ our Lord the Bridegroom and the Church His Bride there is the same Spirit that governs and guides us to the salvation of our souls; because by the same Spirit and our Lord who gave the ten commandments our Holy Mother Church is guided and governed.


The fourteenth:  Allowing that it is very true that none can be saved, unless he be predestinate, and without having faith and grace, -- there is much to attend to in the manner of speaking and conversing on all these topics.


The fifteenth:  We ought not to speak much of predestination by way of an habitual topic; but if in any manner or at any times there is talk of it, it should be so spoken of that the common sort may not come into any error, as is wont to be the case at times, by saying:  ‘If I am bound to be saved or damned, the thing is already settled, and for all my good or evil works it cannot now be otherwise’ and so falling into a torpor they grow slack in the works that conduce to the salvation and spiritual profit of their souls.


The sixteenth:  In the same way it is a thing to attend to that by speaking of faith at great length and with much earnestness, without any distinction and explanation, occasion be not given to the people to grow remiss and lazy in works, whether before faith informed with charity or after it.


The seventeenth:  Likewise we ought not to speak at so much length, insisting so much upon grace, as that there be engendered the poisonous error whereby liberty is taken away.  Thus about faith and grace we may speak as much as possible by means of the divine assistance for the greater praise of His Divine Majesty, but not in such sort, nor in such fashions, especially in our so dangerous times, as that works and free will may receive any prejudice or be held for nought.


The eighteenth:  Though it be a thing to esteem above all, much to serve God our Lord out of pure love, we ought much to praise the fear of His Divine Majesty:  because not only is filial fear a pious and most holy thing, but even servile fear, where the man does not attain to anything better or more profitable, is a great help towards getting out of mortal sin; and after a man has got out of that, he easily comes to filial fear, which is wholly acceptable and grateful to God our Lord as it at one with divine love.