"Saint Ignatius of Loyola" by Peter Paul RubensOne of the noted meditations of St. Ignatius is that on the Two Standards or two flags. In his Spiritual Exercises, the saint invites the retreatant to see the big picture. Life is profoundly dramatic, a clash between good and evil, right and wrong, light and darkness.

On one camp, “the supreme Commander-in-chief of the good is Christ the Lord,” says Ignatius of Loyola. On the other, “the chief of the enemy is Lucifer.” Jesus wants to put all under His standard. But so does Lucifer.

The meditation presents Lucifer scattering countless demons. They are spread throughout the world, not omitting a single nation, city or person. He tells the demons to cast out nets and chains. They are to tempt people with the longing for riches, then honor, then pride. These three evils will draw people to other vices.

Ignatus then invites the retreatant to gaze at the camp of Jesus Christ. The Lord also sends out His own. They spread His teaching to all nations, cities and persons. To the temptation of wealth, they present spiritual poverty. To the love of honor, hiddenness and contempt. To pride, humility.

A great Filipino Jesuit, Fr. Horacio de la Costa, discoursed on the issue of basic choice. His play, “The Two Standards” indeed showed a panorama of history as the war between good and evil, light and darkness. Life is a warfare, he wrote. “It is a war as wide as the world, it is a war older than the world.”

Each man is called to choose to which camp he belongs. To that of Jesus or of Satan? Choose. Sanctity or sin? Choose. Heaven or Hell? Choose. “And in that choice is summed up the life of every man.”

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