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Our Purpose and Destiny: Praying with the 1st Principle and Foundation

“I am created to praise, love, and serve God.”

In beginning the Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius invites us to first pray over the 1st Principle and Foundation. There he presents us with a road map for life, of who we are, our purpose and our destiny, and how best to live our lives to achieve that end.

Here we reflect on our fundamental vocation of being a person created by God, made in His Image, who is placed in history with particular gifts and aptitudes to be used in giving glory to God, as we co-labor with Him in building the Kingdom.

  • What gifts has God given to me as a being created?

  • How have I used my talents and gifts in co-laboring in building the Kingdom?

Within this prayer time, we review how we have chosen those things created by God (and all other things).

  • Has my use of such things helped or hindered me in achieving the destiny I have been created for?

  • Did I base my choices in freedom? Or had I become attached to them, leaving part of me in unfreedom?

We are to ask: does this help or not help me attain what I have been created for? If it seems a hindrance, replace it.

The Retreat Reflection

What are my desires at this time of my life? How and where am I being called in using my gifts and talents and which created things am I to use to co-labor in building the Kingdom?

The Retreat Petition

What are my Desires for this retreat?
  • Desire: The grace to have a deepening awareness of my fundamental vocation to praise, love, and serve God and others; willingness to embrace who I am before our loving God; and clarity for greater indifference in my life in the choices set before me.

  • Add to this or write in your own


Retreat Instructions

A. Beginning your prayer time: At the beginning of each prayer period, offer yourself to the Lord. Prayer of “Take and Receive”

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty,

my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty,

my memory, my understanding, and my entire will,

all that I have and possess.

Thou hast given all to me.

To Thee, O Lord, I return it.

All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will.

Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.


B. Prayerfully read the Principle & Foundation, either traditional or contemporary.

  • Ask God to help you to be aware, to understand, and to act.

Read a second time.

  • Notice which words draw you in, what words take you aback.

Read a third time.

  • Ask: How do I concretely praise, love, and serve God?

  • What activities or things hold me back from achieving the end I am created for?

  • What created things, activities, people, or material things help me achieve this end I was created for?

  • How do I help others to achieve the end they were created for?

C. Review your Prayer experience.

Write down notes about your experiences before, during, and after your prayer.

The 1st Principle and Foundation (SE:23)

of St. Ignatius of Loyola (translation by Louis J. Puhl, SJ)

"Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.

  • The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created.

  • Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment of his end, and he must rid himself of them in as far as they prove a hindrance to him.

  • Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned, we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things.

Our one desire and choice should be what is more conducive to the end for which we are created."

The 1st Principle and Foundation: A Contemporary Version

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. All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily. As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal. In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God. Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God deepening his life in me.


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