Several years ago, before I joined the Jesuits, I was on holiday visiting my brother and sister who live in the United States, writes Roger Dawson SJ in Thinking Faith.
When I was coming back I checked in at the airport a few hours before my flight departed and said to my sister that I had not bought a pair of Levi’s, which are much cheaper in the USA than in Britain. She said to me: "Well, there’s a shopping mall only a few stops on the subway from here. We can just about make it."
So we set off, knowing that we were fairly tight for time, to try to buy a pair of Levi’s. When we got there we were in the lift and there was a poster advertising gift vouchers that could be used in the mall. On this poster was written: "Give them exactly what they want".
In the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius there is a meditation called, ‘The Meditation on the Two Standards’. This is part of the 30 day silent retreat which every Jesuit makes twice before he is fully accepted into the Society of Jesus, and that many non-Jesuits and lay people these days make as well.
In the Two Standards Exercise, Ignatius sets before us a dramatic image. On the one side he puts Jesus, and on the other side he puts Lucifer, the ‘enemy of our human nature’. He sets Lucifer on the great plain of Babylon and paints a picture of him sitting on his throne amidst fire and smoke, surrounded by his demons and instructing them to go out and convert the world to his cause.
He tells them to do this first of all by getting people to crave wealth, or if they are already wealthy, to get them to cling to their wealth. Then they are to get people to rely on the honour and status that wealth gives them.
And finally from there it is an easy step to get people to become proud – by establishing a sense of absolute independence, a conviction that I do not need anyone else; that I have made it and have no need of God.
FULL STORY "Give them exactly what they want": The Meditation on the Two Standards (Thniking Faith)