The Life and Spirituality of St. Ignatius Loyola
What is Ignatian Spirituality?
characteristics of Ignatian spirituality are the characteristics of Ignatius’
spiritual life. A brief summary of these characteristics might include:
- an awareness of being created and redeemed by God’s
- the understanding that Jesus initiates this redemption
within the ordinariness of the world, demonstrating that the world is a
good place to live and work,
- a desire to work as a companion of Jesus to continue
this mission in the world,
- the practice of continual prayer and discernment to
discover how God speaks to the soul,
- the discovery of the presence of the Spirit in
Pope Benedict XVI's Mandate
"Lastly, I ask you to focus special attention on that ministry of Spiritual Exercises which has been a characteristic feature of your Society from the outset. The Exercises are not only the source of your spirituality and the matrix of your Constitutions but also a gift which the Spirit of the Lord has made to the entire Church. It is your task to continue to make them a valuable and effective means for the spiritual growth of souls, for their initiation to prayer, to meditation in this secularized world where God seems to be absent. Only last week I myself benefited from the Spiritual Exercises, together with my closest collaborators of the Roman Curia, under the guidance of a distinguished confrere of yours, Cardinal Albert Vanhoye. In a time like ours when the confusion and multiplicity of messages and the speed of changes and situations makes it particularly difficult for our contemporaries to put order into their lives and respond with determination and joy to the call the Lord addresses to each one of us, the Spiritual Exercises are a particularly precious means and method with which to seek God, within us, around us and in all things, to know his will and to put it into practice."
-Pope Benedict XVI addressing the Fathers of the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus. Click here to read the entire transcript.
Who is Ignatius?
Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) was the youngest child of a noble Basque family fiercely loyal to the Spanish crown, and was raised to be a courtier.
As Ignatius was trying valiantly to defend the fortress town of Pamplona in 1521, a French cannonball shattered his leg and led him to reconsider his way of life.
While recuperating from his wounds at the family estate, Ignatius had only two books to read, the Life of Christ and the Lives of the Saints. The books he read and the daydreams he entertained had a great effect on him, so much so that he decided to lay aside his sword of war and take up what he called the "sword of Christ."
Ignatius travelled as a pilgrim to the Monastery at Monserrat [pictured here], confessed his sins and made a nightlong vigil before the altar of Our Lady of Monserrat.
In a cave near there in the town of Manresa, Ignatius underwent a profound experience of God's presence to him.
That cave, now ornately preserved, is a frequent site for today's Ignatian pilgrims to visit.
This change in life plans led him to seek an education at the University of Paris. There, he formed a circle of friends who, with time, decided to band together and dedicate themselves to the greater glory of God and the good of all people. When their efforts to go to the Holy Land met with disappointment, they decided to place themselves at the service of the Pope, who could send them throughout the world, wherever there was a need.
Wherever the Jesuits went throughout the world, their mission remained the same: To "seek the greater glory of God and the good of humanity."
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam For the Greater Glory of God
What are the Spiritual Exercises?
Ignatius collected his formative experiences of prayer into what became known as his “Spiritual Exercises”. He offered these to men and women of his time as helpful means for them to attend to God’s call, choosing to live committed lives of Christian service. The Exercises invite the “retreatant” to “meditate” on central aspects of Christian faith (e.g. creation, sin and forgiveness, calling and ministry) and especially to “contemplate” (i.e. imaginatively enter into) the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. With the help of a spiritual guide, the goal of the Exercises is the attainment of spiritual freedom and the power to act out of the promptings of God’s spirit in the truest core of one’s being – to act ultimately out of love. (From "Do You Speak Ignatian?" by George Traub, SJ)
Adapted from St. Louis University, a Jesuit instition of higher education.
The Spiritual Exercises are the foundation of Jesuit mission, as stated in General Congregation 32, D 4, #38, "Our Mission Today:"
The well spring of our apostolate. We are led back to our experience of the Spiritual Exercises. In them we are able continually to renew our faith and apostolic hope by experiencing again the love of God in Christ Jesus. We strengthen our commitment to be companions of Jesus in His mission, to labor like Him in solidarity with the poor and with Him for the establishment of the Kingdom. Thereby we gradually make our own that apostolic pedagogy of St. Ignatius which should characterize our every action.
Ignatian Spirituality on Line
is an online community of people answering two simple yet profound
questions: Where have you found God today? and Where do you need to find
Ignatian Spirituality, prayer, spiritual direction, retreats and good decisions
Sacred Space: Daily Meditations from the Irish Jesuits
Sacred Gateway, an adaptation of Sacred Space geared for young people, produced by friends at Youth Front, Kansas City, USA.
The Good Word: A Blog on Scripture and Preaching [America magazine].
Creighton University Online Ministries: Have you prayed today?
Whatever your walk in life, the Apostleship of Prayer offers you a simple, profound way to live it.