Ignatian Spirituality is named after a sixteenth century saint, Ignatius of Loyola. Inigo Lopez de Loyola (1491-1556), who later in life took the name Ignatius, was a noble man from the Basque region in the north of Spain. He was a complex man, driven by great desires. As a soldier, he was struck on the leg by a cannonball while defending Pamplona Castle against the French, an injury which nearly ended his life. He went through a long and painful period of convalescence during which he experienced a major conversion. This was followed by a time of “spiritual pilgrimage” leading years later to the founding of the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits.
Ignatius developed a way of personal spiritual growth based on his experience that God deals directly with each person. He wrote down his spiritual practices in a book called “The Spiritual Exercises”, which is still relevant for modern women and men. His spirituality fosters interior freedom and facilitates the making of good life decisions. The Spiritual Exercises have been variously named “a school for prayer”, “a school for discernment” and “a school for loving action”.
Ignatian spirituality helps us first and foremost to build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It has many elements including intimate dialogue with Christ, individual reflection on how God is present in our daily lives and prompts us to ask: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What ought to I do for Christ?
This dialogue, in turn, allows for the possibility of a wonderful shift in our perception. It becomes our prayer, providing a new foundation for how we relate to Jesus within the context of daily life. Our decision-making, whether small or potentially life-changing, takes place in this intimate relationship with God and leads to positive action in our lives.
Adapted from a booklet of the Australian Centres of Ignatian Spirituality
For further reading: David L. Fleming S.J. (2008) What is Ignatian Spirituality?, Loyola Press; Ignatius St. Lawrence (1990) Ignatius, Founder of the Jesuits, St Paul Publications; Margaret Silf (2004) Companions of Christ, Canterbury Press 2004