We had just finished our 30-day Ignatian retreat here in Dublin as part of our Jesuit Tertianship training and yesterday, I watched the much anticipated movie of the year, Star Wars : The Force Awakens.” Though I’m not really a geek and it so happened that I’d just loved Star Wars, I can’t help but relate my experience of the 30-day Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Star Wars.
1. Two Sides of the Force
Read from Fr. Martin’s post on St. Ignatius of Loyola, “He saw that two forces were moving him. One from the devil and the other from God. St. Ignatius emphasized the importance of Discernment of Spirit. Human beings are moved by a dense complex of motives, both in the things we do from day to day and in our big decisions. When, without warning or any preparatory activity, you are consoled with the love of God above all things, you can trust that it is a good spirit, particularly if it comes with tears. I cried a lot during the 30 day retreat. Tears of Consolations. But when you are thinking or praying and grow consoled or disconsolate—well, test those movements. They could come from either spirit, hence the need for discernment. Though it is not directly related to St. Ignatius’ forces but Star Wars talks about the two sides of the force. The Light and the Dark side of the force. The Jedi were a major practitioner of the light side, and were the mortal enemies of the Sith, which followed the dark side of the Force.
2. Cura Personalis.
Finn’s real name is FN 2187 o r Eight-Seven, he’s just one among many with no identity at all as stormtrooper. It was actually pilot Poe Dameron who gave him his name, Finn. In the Spiritual Exercises, God calls each retreatant by name. Meaning calling each one personally and deals directly with the retreatant. We call it the “Cura Personalis” or personal care.
3. Contemplation on the Third Kind of Men.
When Finn was initially confronted to pursue the causes of the resistance, he wanted to, but his fear held him back to fight. While Rey on the other hand, was ready to give it all for the cause. It reminds me on my contemplation of the three classes of men during the first week of the Exercises. Finn, on this stage, was on the first class of men. The first “class” is comprised of those who postpone, even until death, what they know the call of the Lord to be. They know they must become free of the attachment. They want to become free, but they “never take the means” to accomplish that freedom. While Rey was somehow on the third kind of men. The third class is made up of those who have become utterly free to respond to the call of the Lord. Characteristic of this group is that “indifference” St. Ignatius described at the beginning of the Exercises in the “Principle and Foundation.” Interestingly enough, this type in St. Ignatius’ illustration doesn’t necessarily get rid of the money. Instead, they are free enough to either keep it or get rid of it, but their attention has shifted entirely to what God wants, and not what he or she wants.
“Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.” said, Obi-Wan Kenobi. We need to use all our senses, our feelings and experience to gather more data in order to make a sound decision called discernment. The process involves one becoming more sensitive to the action of God in their lives. The underlying sense of the Exercises is one of trusting self and feelings.
5. Spiritual Direction.
Got this from Fr. Gaby Gonzales, SJ who is a die-hard fan of Star Wars that during Episode 2 and 3, there were series of somewhat like Spiritual Direction or Individual Conference. Everyday during the 30 day retreat for once a day, we see our spiritual director and we talk about my prayer experiences, my consolations and desolations and he guides me in my prayers and contemplations.
“Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them, do not. Miss them, do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose” – Yoda, Revenge of the Sith. The aim of the Spiritual Exercises is basically to detach oneself with inordinate attachments so as one can be more free to make discernment in life towards Christ.
6. The Thrust of the Cross.
Got this from Fr. Buboy Silerio, SJ, his reflection after watching the movie Star Wars. In the latest movie, there’s an evidence of one being thrust with responsibility and a call. Just like the cross which is being thrust on us. We don’t get to choose the cross for if we do, we rather choose the lightest one. It is being thrust on us but it respects our freedom to say yes. Jesus himself was thrust with the cross and so is Simon of Cyrene. He was just passing by but he was thrust with the cross. Rey and Finn, just like most of the characters in the movie, are being thrust with the call and responsibility to help the Resistance.
7. There Is No Fear in Love
Yoda saw a lot of fear in Anakin’s eyes and said that “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” In my retreat, I also sense of fear bringing me to desolation. I reflected on what Paul said and everything became clearer and this was my Cardoner experience, “but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18 )
I did my 30 day retreat in Ireland and glad to know that the last scene of the latest movie was shot in Ireland.
Now back to reality and may the Force of Christ be with you !