The spiritual director of the Jesuits, St Ignatius recorded his method in the Spiritual Exercises (1548) through meditations, contemplation, and prayers, which form the basis of Ignatian spirituality.
Ignatian spirituality encourages us to:
- find and recognise the life of God in all things
- develop a personal relationship with Christ centred in love
- live a life of reflection (self-awareness/discernment) leading to gratitude and a life of service for others
- live a life of contemplation in action – not a monastic existence, but an active one that is, at the same time, infused with prayer and reflection
- live with an inner freedom (the result of self-awareness and discernment)
- translate our faith into working for justice – the realisation that there can be no true expression of faith where concerns for justice and human dignity are lacking
- recognise, like Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, that ‘the world is charged with the grandeur of God’ – the positive, energetic and engaged vision of God’s constant interaction with creation
- live according to the maxim ‘Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam’ (For the Greater Glory of God) – praising God and dedicating oneself to participate in God’s healing work in the world
- be flexible and adaptable; respecting people’s lived experience
- seek the union of minds and hearts – as brothers and sisters, we listen for the God who is present among us, admitting no division based on ethnicity, nationality, background, age or gender
These principles and ideas are not unique to Ignatius. Rather, they flow from the Gospel of Jesus. However, Ignatius gathered and synthesised them into a path we call Ignatian spirituality.