“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.” (Fr Pedro Arrupe S J, Former Superior General)
Ignatian spirituality is a way of relating to God and to the world that is based on the reflection and prayer experiences of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. Ignatius was born in 1491 into a family of minor nobility in the Basque region of Spain . He became a ‘man of the world' who enjoyed fast living.
At age 26, Ignatius' life changed drastically. While seeking worldly honors and glory, he was struck in the leg by a cannonball in a military battle at Pamplona . After several excruciating surgeries and weeks of fever and delirium, he began a long convalescence.
During his recuperation, he asked for books to read, expecting to be given the romance novels he so enjoyed. To his dismay, the only books available were “The Life of Christ” and a collection of stories about saints. As he read these and reflected on them, he became strangely moved and excited by thoughts of imitating the selfless deeds the saints had done for God.
Ignatius then divested himself of his armor and noble clothes and took on the simple garb and lifestyle of a begging pilgrim. He went to a place called Manresa and lived for eleven months in a cave near a monastery. He spent many hours in prayer and meditation, recording in journals his experiences of God, who gently and powerfully communicated with him and transformed his soul.
During the years that followed, Ignatius edited his journals and devised a month-long retreat program of spiritual exercises, consisting of meditations, contemplations and self-examinations. The retreat was composed of four sections called “weeks.” The First Week focused on conversion from sin and worldliness to a life centered on God. During the Second Week, one contemplated Jesus from his Incarnation to the end of his public ministry, seeing Jesus as the model for all true Christian living. The Third and Fourth Weeks were experiences of unitive prayer in which the retreatant accompanies Jesus through his Passion and Resurrection. The retreat ended with the “Contemplation to attain the love of God,” which reviews all the gifts and graces of the preceding four weeks. The goal of this contemplation was to help retreatants return to their daily lives ready and able to love as universally and unselfishly as God loves.
Dear 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 labour and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I may do Your will.
Prayer of St Ignatius Loyola
Take O Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding, and my entire will,
all that I have and possess.
You have given all to me:
to you, O Lord, I return it.
All is yours,
dispose it wholly according to Your will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace,
for this is sufficient for me.