Today’s Bible reading
You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. — 2 Timothy 2:1-7
More thoughts for meditation about Ignatius Loyola
St. Ignatius Loyola was born in 1491, one of 13 children of a family of minor nobility in northern Spain. As a young man Ignatius Loyola was inflamed by the ideals of courtly love and knighthood and dreamed of doing great deeds.
But in 1521 Ignatius was gravely wounded in a battle with the French. While recuperating, he experienced a conversion. Reading the lives of Jesus and the saints made Ignatius happy and aroused desires to do great things. He realized that these feelings were clues to God’s direction for him.
Over the years, Ignatius became expert in the art of spiritual direction. He collected his insights, prayers, and suggestions in his book the Spiritual Exercises, one of the most influential books on the spiritual life ever written. With a small group of friends, Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits. Ignatius conceived the Jesuits as “contemplatives in action.” This also describes the many Christians who have been touched by Ignatian spirituality.
“Act as if everything depended on you; trust as if everything depended on God.”
“Go forth and set the world on fire.”
The quotes above are among the most famous from Ignatius and they sum up the practicality and ambition that he lived out after his commitment to follow Jesus.
Those of us who are Protestants probably haven’t been given much information about Ignatius because he was a strong opponent of the Reformation in the 1500’s and vigorously supported (some would argue blindly) the hierarchy of the Catholic Church at the time. None of us gets everything right and this lasting division of the Church has proven itself to be deeply problematic for centuries. Much is lost if we refuse to listen to one another.
Ignatius became a powerful leader in the Church of his day. His writings have become a wonderful guide to many who seek Jesus. He was a devoted follower who took his early experiences as a soldier prior to his conversion and applied all the good lessons he learned to the work of discipleship. His Spiritual Exercises is a 200 page text designed to be a simple guide for new disciples. We celebrate him on the day he died in 1556.
Would you like to know more?
Here is a video biography
Here is a nice spirituality site with extensive biography resources: [link]
Discernment of spirits for young people [link]
Suggestions for action
Ignatian spirituality is one of the most influential and pervasive spiritual outlooks of our age. There’s a story behind it. And it has many attributes. Here are ten markers. Consider them. Try them.
1. It begins with a wounded soldier daydreaming on his sickbed.
Ignatian spirituality is rooted in the experiences of Ignatius, whose conversion to a fervent Christian faith began while he was recovering from war wounds. Ignatius gained many insights into the spiritual life in the course of a decadeslong spiritual journey during which he became expert at helping others deepen their relationship with God. Its basis in personal experience makes Ignatian spirituality an intensely practical spirituality, well suited to laymen and laywomen living active lives in the world.
2. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”
This line from a poem by the Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins captures a central theme of Ignatian spirituality: its insistence that God is at work everywhere—in work, relationships, culture, the arts, the intellectual life, creation itself. As Ignatius put it, all the things in the world are presented to us “so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.” Ignatian spirituality places great emphasis on discerning God’s presence in the everyday activities of ordinary life. It sees God as an active God, always at work, inviting us to an ever-deeper walk.
3. It’s about call and response—like the music of a gospel choir.
An Ignatian spiritual life focuses on God at work now. It fosters an active attentiveness to God joined with a prompt responsiveness to God. God calls; we respond. This call-response rhythm of the inner life makes discernment and decision making especially important. Ignatius’s rules for discernment and his astute approach to decision making are well-regarded for their psychological and spiritual wisdom.
4. “The heart has its reasons of which the mind knows nothing.”
Ignatius Loyola’s conversion occurred as he became able to interpret the spiritual meaning of his emotional life. The spirituality he developed places great emphasis on the affective life: the use of imagination in prayer, discernment and interpretation of feelings, cultivation of great desires, and generous service. Ignatian spiritual renewal focuses more on the heart than the intellect. It holds that our choices and decisions are often beyond the merely rational or reasonable. Its goal is an eager, generous, wholehearted offer of oneself to God and to his work.
5. Free at last.
Ignatian spirituality emphasizes interior freedom. To choose rightly, we should strive to be free of personal preferences, superfluous attachments, and preformed opinions. Ignatius counseled radical detachment: “We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one.” Our one goal is the freedom to make a wholehearted choice to follow God.
6. “Sum up at night what thou hast done by day.”
The Ignatian mind-set is strongly inclined to reflection and self-scrutiny. The distinctive Ignatian prayer is the Daily Examen, a review of the day’s activities with an eye toward detecting and responding to the presence of God. Three challenging, reflective questions lie at the heart of the Spiritual Exercises, the book Ignatius wrote, to help others deepen their spiritual lives: “What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought I to do for Christ?”
7. A practical spirituality.
Ignatian spirituality is adaptable. It is an outlook, not a program; a set of attitudes and insights, not rules or a scheme. Ignatius’s first advice to spiritual directors was to adapt the Spiritual Exercises to the needs of the person entering the retreat. At the heart of Ignatian spirituality is a profound humanism. It respects people’s lived experience and honors the vast diversity of God’s work in the world. The Latin phrase cura personalis is often heard in Ignatian circles. It means “care of the person”—attention to people’s individual needs and respect for their unique circumstances and concerns.
8. Don’t do it alone.
Ignatian spirituality places great value on collaboration and teamwork. Ignatian spirituality sees the link between God and man as a relationship—a bond of friendship that develops over time as a human relationship does. Collaboration is built into the very structure of the Spiritual Exercises; they are almost always guided by a spiritual director who helps the retreatant interpret the spiritual content of the retreat experience. Similarly, mission and service in the Ignatian mode is seen not as an individualistic enterprise, but as work done in collaboration with Christ and others.
9. “Contemplatives in action.”
Those formed by Ignatian spirituality are often called “contemplatives in action.” They are reflective people with a rich inner life who are deeply engaged in God’s work in the world. They unite themselves with God by joining God’s active labor to save and heal the world. It’s an active spiritual attitude—a way for everyone to seek and find God in their workplaces, homes, families, and communities.
10. “Men and women for others.”
The early Jesuits often described their work as simply “helping souls.” The great Jesuit leader Pedro Arrupe updated this idea in the twentieth century by calling those formed in Ignatian spirituality “men and women for others.” Both phrases express a deep commitment to social justice and a radical giving of oneself to others. The heart of this service is the radical generosity that Ignatius asked for in his most famous prayer:
Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.