For Ignatius of Loyola, there was only one absolute
~ the incomprehensible mystery of God.
God is beyond every concept and word, beyond all we can imagine.
For Ignatius of Loyola, there was only one absolute ~ the incomprehensible mystery of God. God is beyond every concept and word, beyond all we can imagine. Yet, since Ignatian spirituality flows out of the Catholic Christian tradition, this God is Trinitarian. The Persons of the Trinity exist in mutual relationships of love and intimacy. The implications are enormous and far reaching, not only for God, but for us. All creation is good; since we humans are made in the image of God, loving relationship and intimacy in community is our deepest vocation. The Triune God is also the basis of human dignity, social justice and respect for every part of creation.
We human beings live in an utterly beautiful and stunning universe. Yet, we experience brokenness in ourselves, in others and the natural world as well. We are bruised and wounded at the core. The initial biblical stories in Genesis speak of both this beauty and brokenness. They narrate the mystery of evil in the world flowing from the break in the human relationship with God and its spread to all other relationships. For Ignatius, sin inhibits our freedom to choose and live an authentic human life. Much of his spiritual practice is to become aware of this lack of freedom and to ask for divine mercy and assistance.
For Ignatius, God is passionately involved with creation and with every creature. God is always moving towards us in compassion, always laboring with love for the human family to liberate and reconcile, to heal and unite. The Exodus story brought this passionate concern of God for justice into human consciousness for the first time. The Hebrew Prophets radically expanded this awareness and Jesus of Nazareth lived it with even sharper clarity.
Jesus of Nazareth utterly captivated Ignatius; he suggests a long and loving attention to the life and the way of Jesus. Ignatius encountered and experienced him as the risen Christ of God. God drew near to us with a finality and luminosity in Jesus who reveals the divine heart because 'he is closest to that heart.' Jesus also reveals who we are as human beings in our three fold relationship: to God, ourselves, and others.
Jesus lived a very definite way of life, a pattern of choices inspired and energized by God's Spirit. He embodied the compassion and justice of God for all people, especially those who were excluded from the social, political and religious circles of his time. The choices Jesus made under the guidance of the Spirit, while giving great hope to many people, aroused the hostility of others. It was his commitment to the compassion of God for all people that led to his death. But God raised Jesus from death and, in so doing, vindicated his way.
The Spirit that animated Jesus is available to all who would open their lives to receive this gift from the risen Jesus. The Spirit is one of transformation, shaping and purifying our desires and feelings, educating our imagination and motivation so we gradually become more like the risen Jesus. The spiritual path Ignatius walked is one of transformation. For Ignatius, the path of transformation is growth in true freedom.
Ignatius believed that God can be experienced by every person and that God deals uniquely and with utter respect with each human being. Ignatian spirituality has no specific prayer form except the one that the Spirit draws each person to. Furthermore, Ignatian spirituality looks for signs of the divine presence and action in other faith traditions and other spiritual paths.
A privileged place of God's revelation is our own concrete life, the daily stuff of working, raising children, caring for neighbors, seeking justice in civic life and building the human community. Another privileged place of encounter is that of human struggle especially the suffering and pain of history.
Life in the Spirit is ultimately a life of joy, because it is to be the recipient of divine life and love which enables us to discover our most authentic self and to live a life of love and compassion towards other human beings.
Ignatius believed in the reality of the spiritual world where different spirits compete for the deepest desires, affections and allegiance of the human person. Through hard experience, wisdom and grace Ignatius developed an approach to human decision making based on this 'discernment of spirits.' We can detect and discern this movement of spirits and make choices most conducive to the Divine purpose.
Ignatius took the bold and dangerous approach that human desire is a fit place to explore the purpose of God for us. Again, his method of discernment helps us as a person to discover the desire under all desires.
Ignatius believed that the Church ~ while not the exclusive domain of the Spirit of God, and certainly very flawed ~ nevertheless, is one privileged place of that mysterious presence. Ignatius treasured the sacramental life of the Church, especially the Eucharist and reconciliation.
Generous God, for the sake of the people redeemed by your Son, send out your Spirit of hope. Give to each person a vocation to your service, and to each give the courage to respond. Send us companions for the Society of Jesus, and fire their hearts with your love. Let them have wisdom to follow your calling, and generosity to serve in your name. Let them love you in your people all the days of their lives. We make this prayer through the intercession of Mary our Mother and Joseph her spouse, in company with Ignatius and all the saints in glory. Hear us, O God, our Savior. Amen.