Two Standards

This is a guest post by Mags Blackie.


two standards dudesThere is a meditation in the Spiritual Exercises entitled ‘The Two Standards’. The purpose of the exercise is to get an interior map for discernment. The metaphor used in the exercise itself is a medieval battle scene between the forces of Jesus and the forces of Satan. The ‘standards’ are the banners of each. The one making the exercise is invited to consider the different tactics used by each camp.

Some years ago I participated in a weekend seminar focusing on the Second Week of Exercises which includes ‘The Two Standards’. I think it was Philip Endean SJ who asked us to read a paper written by Lavinia Byrne on this exercise (you can find a pdf here). Byrne had developed her own modern version of these two. It was over this weekend, that the penny finally dropped for me on the purpose of The Two Standards – it is to find the symbols which represent the Two Standards in my own life.

The image I have held since that weekend, is reminiscent of Byrne’s but it has a personal twist. For me the image of Satan is a well dressed business man. He is serious, organised, and controlled. The image of Jesus is a surfer dude in board shorts.

The image is a powerful one for me – because my temptation is to take myself a little too seriously. To take a little more responsibility than I should. And taking this road paralyses me. It is the path to unfreedom, to constriction, ultimately to destruction.

Being able to evoke this image as a tool for discernment has been tremendously useful. It has given me a handle to cut through the subtle deception.

We are not tempted by things we know to be inherently destructive. There is always some lure, some attractive disguise. This image speaks to my own pet temptations, the things I will fall for.

What are the images you use as your touchstones for discernment? What are The Two Standards you use?

Mags Blackie is a spiritual director, a scientist, and an educator. Her book, Rooted In Love, is all about integrating Ignatian spirituality into daily life. Mags currently holds an academic position at Stellenbosch University near Cape Town. Visit her blog for more Ignatian spirituality.

Related posts:

If you’d like to write for God In All Things please see the Submissions page.

3 replies

  1. What an interesting exercise, Mags. I’m going to have to give that some thought.

    But I don’t think those pix will work for me…they are both near occasions of sin!

Respond:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s