St. Ignatius of Loyola learned to find fruit, that is, the effect or consequence of action. More important than our actions is the action of God in, with and for humans. One grows to find fruit and to offer it the more one savors one's own life and all creation. I hope my posts help you feel that finding fruit is a profitable way of living.
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J., Directed Prayer Weekend Retreat
Recall Jesus’ words to us on Ash Wednesday: …wheneveryoupray,donotbelikethehypocrites;fortheylovetostandandprayinthesynagoguesandatthestreetcorners,sothattheymaybeseenbyothers.…Butwheneveryoupray,gointoyourroomandshutthedoor….1
A hypocrite puts on an act. Scripture uses hypocrite in no flattering way. In the New Testament it means a religiousormoralcounterfeit. The image Jesus gives me is someone using peripheral vision improperly. Standing at streetcorners or in a worship space one pays undue attention to others: Do they notice me? Does she see what I’m doing? God may be in my words, but my heart is elsewhere. Any of us can see how that is possible.
Jesus made it clear in his parable about the Pharisee and the taxcollector: the Pharisee well inside the synagogue; the taxcollectorstandingafaroff. Remember the Pharisee’s words? God,IthankyouthatIamnotlikeotherpeople:thieves,rogues,adulterers,orevenlikethistaxcollector. That is praying with peripheral vision.
The taxcollector’s prayer was such a contrast. He wouldnotevenlookuptoheaven,butwasbeatinghisbreastandsaying,‘God,bemercifultome,asinner!’ That is praying with direct, steady vision. Jesus added that the taxcollector…went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee.How sweet felt the heart of the taxcollector, even if he struggled still with how he lived! He savoured, too, his brave prayer of self-knowledge. True self-knowledge allowed him—and us—worthily echo the Psalmist: God I need you to give me a new spirit, a humane heart.
If true self-knowledge feels risky, you’re in the right place. Being here allows all of us to let God tell us who we are; and to welcome God into any area of our lives that needs divine help, that help we cannot give ourselves. Silent solitude helps that happen.
Silent solitude also allows us to notice challenge and assurance: Jesus will challenge us if we persist in using spiritual peripheral vision; Jesus will reassure us to see ourselves with direct, steady vision. Both Jesus’ challenge and his assurance are gifts that help us be our true selves.