In the Exercises St. Ignatius of Loyola posits two earthly leaders,
both extremely appealing, prototypical heroes.
Their minions carry standards, banners or other symbols of their key principles. Ignatius proffers the two standards for our consideration of what motivates us on a daily basis. I learn to focus on the hero of my soul, the one for whom I would die, no matter the cost.
These two canvases represent my own meditation on the standards:
The one is of the Standard of Christ. He suggests that following Him will bring poverty, powerlessness, and humiliation—–not much of a draw, but He is beautiful and endearing. The painting represents such a one as Ignatius promising poverty, chastity, obedience, the vows of religious life, before the black Virgin of Montserrat. The angels in white sing and dance, filling us with faith, hope, and charity, the theological virtues conferred only by the Holy Spirit.
The other is of the Standard of Satan. The prince of darkness is also beautiful, if not so endearing. However his naked dancing on stage, a rock star accompanied by the dancing girl chorus, praising plenty, power, and pride, the goals that he offers, excites us no end.
The differences in the triads are fruitful sources of continuous meditation on what empowers us, what makes us get up in the
The love of Jesus is frightful, leading to the cross and some heaven beyond but that beyond reward is hard to bank on; it’s an ephemeral thing. However, the promises of Satan are also ephemeral, his prizes lasting only a short while, maybe not even until death, as ends achievable but as goals unsatisfying. Riches, power, and prestige come and go, but the Christ transcends the cross.
I hope this leads to fruitful prayer. It’s the result of years of meditation and the consequent making of choices.