I am very happily married, the father of five and the grandfather of six so this is a tough reading to comment upon! What can I say that won’t get me in trouble if my wife reads this?

This passage makes me think about some of Ignatius’ comments about choosing a way of life at the end of the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises. He reminds us not to confuse ends and means. In the Principle and Foundation it is clear that the purpose of our lives is to praise, reverence, and serve God and thereby gain salvation. The means by which we attain this end can be through marriage or remaining single, through activity in the for-profit world of business or the not-for-profit world, etc.

Ignatius also points out that some previous decisions limit our current choices. For instance, the prior choice of marriage and having children means we cannot just pick up and leave them behind to do something else. Rather we are encouraged to consider how we can better serve God and gain salvation in our current state of life. In other words, how might I better love my wife and children and grandchildren, among all the people God puts in my life this day?

—David McNulty works for the Midwest Jesuits. Dave and his wife Judy are the parents of five children and the grandparents of six.