More apps? No, back to basics

Posted on January 1, 2013

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Sometimes, I feel that instead of simplifying life, apps can even complicate it.

Whenever we download an app we like, for example, we tend to make space for it in our everyday lives. A new e-reader can make us want to change our reading habits. A new e-organizer can make us plan our lives in a certain way. Then we begin to say, “Because we need to.” But do we, really?

New Year is a time to reassess the “apps” of our lives. What things do we think we need, but actually distract us from the basics? And most importantly, what do we believe is basic?

GOD FIRST. St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, says we should rid our lives of unhealthy attachments

GOD FIRST. St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, says we should rid our lives of unhealthy attachments

The founder of the Jesuits, St Ignatius of Loyola, logically frames the basics in his classic Principle and Foundation. The loving God created man, says Ignatius, “to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by these means to achieve eternal well-being.”

Ignatius says God created the world to help man achieve this objective. The yardstick is simple, and is even a basic rule in essay-writing: “If something helps us, we should use it; and if it hinders us, we shouldn’t.” It sounds simple, but we all have attachments – attractive ones! – that prevent us from reaching the ideal.

Principle and Foundation

We are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by these means to achieve eternal well-being.

Everything in the world is to help us toward our eternal well-being. If something helps us, we should use it; and if it hinders us, we shouldn’t.

We must not care about external things, like health or sickness, wealth or poverty, fame or obscurity, a long life or a short one.

We should want only what we were created for.

– St. Ignatius of Loyola, as paraphrased by Tim Muldoon in ‘The Ignatian Workout’

To be sure, not everyone believes in the Christian God. But I think everyone should, like Ignatius, have a “principle and foundation” – a compass, an objective, a dream.  Why do we exist in the first place?

The former Jesuit superior general, Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, phrases the question beautifully: “For whom? For what?” – The Wide Shot

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