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"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

On the Exercises as an Efficacious Means of Helping Souls: To Father Fulvio Androzzi


Fulvio Androzzi [1], a Jesuit for less than a year, was carrying on an apostolate in Meldola, in the region of Emilia. He wrote two letters to Ignatius, which have not been preserved, informing him of the work he was doing; he was so busy, in fact, that he found that he had not sufficient time to prepare his sermons and asks Ignatius for direction. Through Polanco, Ignatius responds sending him various norms to be used in his apostolate. But Ignatius emphasizes that the most efficacious means of helping souls would be to give them the Spiritual Exercises. The first week for everyone, while the full four weeks only for a select few. He then adds that when there are many tasks to be done, one has to make a prudent selection to see which tasks take precedence over others. The letter was written in Italian [Ep. 12:141-143].

Jesus

The peace of Christ.

We have two letters from your reverence, one dated the twentieth of last month, and the other dated the fourth of this month. We rejoice in our Lord on the occasions which His goodness allows you to serve Him by helping and consoling souls, not only those of our benefactors but of their families and the people of their regions, and because of the health and peace of mind that He bestows on you. However, if little time is left for you to prepare your sermons, Christ our Lord will supply that defect. But throughout the day things might be so arranged as to give you more time, if more time is necessary, for one thing rather than for another. The good disposition and devotion of your patrons will be a great help to you in setting to order what should be better arranged....

Your reverence knows that there is one outstanding means among those which of their nature are helpful to men. I mean the Exercises. I remind you, therefore, that you should make use of this weapon, which is such a familiar part of the Society. The first week could be given to many people, as well as some methods of prayer. But to give them exactly as they are, one should have retreatants capable and suitable for helping others after they themselves have been helped. Where this is not the case, they should not go beyond the first week. Your reverence should look about to see whether you can find some good prospects for the Lord's service, for whom there is no better way than the one I have indicated. The frequent reception of the sacraments is usually of much help to this end.

If you are very busy, you should make a choice and employ yourself in the more important occupations where there is greater service of God, greater spiritual advantage for the neighbor, and the more general or perfect good. Keeping a little time to put order in yourself and your activities will be of considerable help to you in this respect....

With regard to your reverence's personal experiences, which you say are the cause of some pain and sadness, I hope that you will daily grow freer of them by God's grace, since all such things, and even the greater pains of our human nature, can be cured by greater enlightenment and an increase of charity. I hope that your reverence will find such a master in the Holy Spirit, who will make it less necessary on our part to multiply advice.

I am enclosing a letter from Ortensio [2], and if you wish I will send you other letters which were sent us from Loreto. I understand that Curzio [3] is advancing with great strides along the way of virtue and edification. Master Giovanni Filippo [4] will write you about other matters.

May God grant us all His grace always to know and to do His will.

From Rome, July 18, 1556.
1. Androzzi was born in 1524 in Montecchio, in Macerata, and was a canon at Loreto when the Society established a house in that city (1554). He came to know Diego Laínez, made the Exercises under his direction, and then entered the Society in Rome in November 1555. Shortly thereafter he went to work in the province of Emilia. He died in Ferrara on August 27, 1575.
2. Ortensio was Fulvio Androzzi’s brother. He was born in 1528, and became a Jesuit in Rome in March 1556, and was in Rome when Polanco was writing to Fulvio. He died in Rome on January 24, 1589.
3. Curzio was the youngest of the three Androzzi brothers who became Jesuits. He was born in 1536 and entered the Society in Loreto in April 1556, and was a novice at the time this letter was written. Curzio died in Brescia on June 13, 1584.
4. Giovanni Filippo Vito was Polanco’s assistant. He was born in Messina in 1531, and became a Jesuit in February 1551. He came to Rome to study, and in April 1554 began working with Polanco. He was ordained the following year and died in Rome on April 8, 1558.

I. In July 1521, a 30-year-old Basque knight, named Iñigo was brought home to recuperate after his cannonball experience in the battle of Pamplona—his watershed moment. The wounds on his lower limbs led to the first long lockdown in his life, about nine months, during which he read a life of Christ and a book on the lives of the saints, the only reading matter the Loyola castle afforded. He also killed time by recalling tales of martial valor and by day-dreaming about a great lady who captured his heart. Later when he was out of mortal danger, his attention was centered on the saints. This profoundly moved and attracted him that soon after he had barely recovered he resolved to do something about his many sins. To fulfill this he must embark on a journey towards conversion. He followed the holy austerities of the saints, e.g. Francis of Assisi and Dominic, that God sent as his first spiritual guides in his lifelong task towards holiness.
II. "That mission has its fullest meaning in Christ, and can only be understood through him. At its core, holiness is experiencing in union with Christ, the mysteries of his life… The contemplation of these mysteries, as St Ignatius of Loyola pointed out, leads us to incarnate them in our choices and attitudes" (Gaudete et Exsultate— Rejoice and Be Glad, 20).

St Ignatius of Loyola by Peter Paul Rubens c. 1622
III. "This spiritual poverty is closely linked to what St Ignatius of Loyola calls 'holy indifference', which brings us to a radiant interior freedom: 'We need to train ourselves to be indifferent to our attitude to all created things, in all that is permitted to our free will and not forbidden’ so that on our part, we do not set our hearts on good health rather than bad, riches rather than poverty, honour rather than dishonour, a long life rather than a short one, and so in all the rest" (Gaudete et Exsultate— Rejoice and Be Glad, 69).