Also known by many as Jesuit Spirituality, Ignatian Spirituality is a belief in the presence of God in our everyday life. It insists that God is omnipresent in all things of the world and actively participates in our lives. It preaches a pathway to good decisions that are guided by keen discernment, deeper prayer, and dedicating a life of service to others. It challenges us to find God in all things and witness the joy of Gospel. This Catholic spirituality was founded on the experiences of the founder of Jesuit order, theologian Ignatius of Loyola.
Development of Ignatian spirituality
When Ignatius got injured with a leg wound in the Siege of Pamplona in 1521, he made his retreat with the Benedictines of Montserrat. Here, he was introduced to “Ejercitatoria de la vida spiritual” of the Garcia de Cisneros. This was a part of Brothers of Common Life teachings. They were also the promoters of “devotion moderna”. After this, he spent 10 months at Manresa. Here he discovered the teachings of “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis.
Elements of Ignatian Spirituality
There is a story behind the influential and spiritual outlooks of this belief. Let us discuss the main ten elements of Ignatian Spirituality:
1. Begins with the daydreams of a wounded soldier on his sickbed
This spirituality is based on the experiences of a Basque aristocrat Ignatius Loyola who began his conversion to be a fervent Christian when he was recovering from his war wounds. He founded the Jesuits and gained a deep insight into spirituality through his decade long journey. Throughout his journey, he helped many others in deepening their bond with God. Since the teachings were based on personal experiences, Ignatian spirituality is a very practical spirituality that is well suited to today’s active lives of laymen and laywomen.
2. The grandeur of God charges this world
This line captures the basic essence of this spirituality that God is everywhere. His work can be found in every aspect of life, such as culture, relationships, work, arts, life, and the Creation itself. All the things in this world have been presented in such a way that we become closer to God and can readily return his love. It is based on the true belief that God is just not an observer, He is an active God who is always at work and keeps inviting us to a deeper talk.
3. It believes in Call and Response
Just like the music of a gospel choir, this spirituality focuses on the work of God now. It is connected with an active connection with God wherein He calls and we respond. This call and response rhythm is an important part of decision making and discernment in life. These teachings are well regarded due to the spiritual and psychological wisdom offered in them.
4. The Heart Has Its Own Reasons of Which Mind knows Nothing About
The conversion Of Ignatius Loyola happened because he was able to interpret the spiritual meaning behind his life. Through his teachings, he laid emphasis on some important aspects of life- the use of imagination in prayer, interpretation, and discernment of feelings, generous service, and cultivation of great desires. It focuses more on the heart rather than the intellectuality. The goal of this belief is that we have to offer ourselves eagerly, generously, and wholeheartedly to God.
5. Inner Freedom
Ignatian Spirituality focuses on our interior freedom. In order to make the right choice, we should be free of superfluous attachments, personal preferences, and preformed opinions. The goal of this spirituality is to have complete freedom yet make a free choice of following God.
6. Reflection and Self-scrutiny
The Ignatian mindset believes in summing up and reflecting on what was done during the day at night. It makes us daily examine the activities of the day with an eye towards detecting the presence of God in all. There are three questions that need to be answered by all- “What am I doing for God? What have I done for him? What I ought to do for God?”
7. A Practical belief
Ignatian Beliefs are practical beliefs that can adapt to all situations. It is not just a set of rules or a program, it is an attitude and outlook. The core of this spiritual belief is profound humanism. It respects the experiences of people and honors the diversity of work done by God in this world. There is a common Latin phrase that is often heard in its circles- “Cura Personalis” meaning taking care of a person. It pays attention to the individual needs of people and respects their unique concerns and characteristics.
8. Do Not Do It Alone
This spirituality places the utmost importance on teamwork and collaboration. There is an inherent link between man and God – a bond of friendship that proceeds and develops just like any other human relationship of friendship. Thus, mission and service are not individual endeavors, they are actually a collaboration with God.
9. Contemplatives in Action
The believers of Ignatian spirituality are reflective people having a rich inner life that is deeply engaged in God’s work. They unite themselves and their minds with God to actively save and heal the world. It is a constant process of finding God in their homes, workplace, communities, and families.
10. Men and women for others
Early Jesuits often termed their work as simply “helping souls”. In the twentieth century, they were given the name of “men and women for others”. This phrase expresses a deep commitment towards social justice and giving yourself wholeheartedly towards all.
Ignatian spirituality challenges us to encounter and find God in all things and witness the joy of the Gospel in everything. Everything we do is for the greater glory of God. Spirituality focuses on making good decisions that are based on the understanding that God wants us to do”The Better Good”.