As a child in primary school, we memorized the Baltimore Catechism, starting in Grade 1. The very first question read: “Why did God make you?”
Very soon, I could parrot the answer: “God made me to know love and serve him in this life and be with him in the next.”
I have spent the rest of my life learning and expanding the import of these words which glibly rolled off my six year old lips on command. What have these years of showing up for prayer each day in the spirit of St. Ignatius taught me?
Well, first of all, the first question in the Baltimore Catechism mirrors St. Ignatius' Principle and Foundation in his Spiritual Exercises.
From a translation of St. Ignatius' words by David Fleming, SJ:
“The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit.”
I picture a circle of love and rest within it. I am created by Love and for Love. I am invited to live in the midst of all of creation in and with Love, loving all around me — giving love and receiving love. In doing this I return to the source of this love and live in this Love.
Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto express what they are called to live each day as: “all-inclusive love”, “unioning love”, “oneness with God and neighbor without distinction.” My six year old self had absolutely no idea that 60 years after entering the Sisters of St Joseph of Toronto, I would be trying to live this depth of understanding of the first question in the Baltimore Catechism. It has been a journey!
Sister Rosemary Fry