The Principle and Foundation of the Exercises

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 was created.

Hence, a 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.

A Contemporary Reading of the Principle
David Fleming, SJ

God freely created us so that we might know, love and serve him in this life and be happy with Him forever.  God’s purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth, so that we may attain our goal of everlasting happiness with him in heaven.

All the things in this world are gifts of god, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely, and serve him more faithfully.

As a result, we ought to appreciate and use these gifts of God insofar as they help us toward our goal of loving service and union with God.  But insofar as any created things hinder our progress toward our goal, we ought to let them go.

In everyday life, then, we should keep ourselves indifferent of undecided in the face of all created gifts when we have an option and we do not have the clarity of what would be a better choice.  We ought not to be led on by our natural likes and dislikes even in matters such as health or sickness, wealth or poverty, between living in the east or in the west, becoming an accountant or a lawyer.

Rather, our only desire and our one choice should be that option which better leads us to the goal for which God created us.

Another Re-Statement of the Principle
Stanislaus Lyonnet, SJ

I am being created, loved into existence, in order to become God-centered, to grow into the image of Christ - a child of God: to come to oneness with Jesus.

All other persons and things are being created by God to help me grow.  Therefore, I must make myself free, with the help of my Father: I must "Sell Everything" in order to be a disciple of Jesus, my Lord