Sunday, July 30, 2017

Ignatian Spirituality - main points

IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA was born in 1491 into a noble Basque family in northern Spain. He became a soldier in the service of the Spanish king. During the defence of the fortress at Pamplona in 1521, a cannonball shattered his leg. During a long and painful convalescence, Ignatius experienced a life-changing conversion. He went from dreaming of knightly glory to wanting to serve Jesus. He left Loyola and set out as a pilgrim to the monastery at Montserrat. There he spent all night in prayer and offered his knight’s sword to Our Lady. Dressed as a beggar, he spent the next few months living in a cave in nearby Manresa. With much prayer, he reflected on the life and teachings of Jesus. The notes of his experiences in prayer became the basis of a small book called The Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius used this book to lead others to a knowledge of God through meditation on the life of Jesus.

Discernment and GOOD DECISIONS
Ignatian spirituality has long been associated with discernment— the art of discovering how best to respond to God in daily life. For centuries, people have used St. Ignatius of Loyola’s rules for discernment to help make wise choices and sound decisions. Ignatian discernment rests on the conviction that God speaks directly to each of us. We can have confidence in our own experience of God as we develop eyes to see and ears to hear.

Put yourself in a Gospel story.
Just choose which character you’re going to be, and walk right into the scene where Jesus heals someone, delivers a teaching, or feeds thousands. You can be a main character in the story, or you can be a bystander or friend that you simply invent for this prayer. Don’t get distracted by trying to be historically accurate—this is not about you interpreting Scripture in a scholarly way. The point is to encounter Jesus. You ask the Holy Spirit to guide this very spiritual function, the human imagination, to where you need to go.

10 Characteristics of Ignatian Spirituality
Finding God in all things
Personal relationship with Christ and love for the Church
Reflection (self-awareness/discernment) leading to gratitude which leads to service (linked to becoming a “man or woman for others”)
Contemplation in action—not a monastic existence, but an active one that is, at the same time, infused with prayer
Inner freedom—the result of self-awareness and discernment
Faith that does justice—the realisation that there can be no true expression of faith where concerns for justice and human dignity are missing
A positive, energetic, and engaged vision of God’s constant interaction with creation
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
Flexibility and adaptability—respecting people’s lived experiences
Union of minds and hearts—listening for the God who is present among us, admitting no division

Inner Freedom
God wants us to be our true selves—joyous, aware, and living each moment to the fullest. When we are free, we have freedom to love, freedom for service, and freedom to be in an intimate relationship and dialogue with the God who leads each of us toward life. God desires inner freedom for us:
To grow in self-knowledge to become more aware of our authentic selves and to live out of that authenticity.
To see ourselves through the loving eyes of God.
To accept loving relationships.
To grow in friendship with Jesus.
To follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
To discover what God is asking of us.
To respond open-heartedly to God’s invitation.
To enter into a right relationship with all of God’s creation.
To look clearly at ourselves and the world around us, rejecting evil and rejoicing in virtue.
To work actively for peace, justice, and compassion.
To give generously to those most in need.
To become disciples.

Finding God in all things is at the core of Ignatian spirituality and is rooted in our growing awareness of what is happening in our daily lives. God is not lost and doesn’t need to be found. God constantly finds us. It is we who gradually learn to find and love God in all things, because God is in everything we see, hear, and do. God labors in all things, creating them moment by moment, giving them life and beauty. The yearning to find God in all things makes us more aware of what is happening all around us, and we grow in an awareness of God’s presence in our lives and become more attentive to God’s desires than to our own. Sometimes it is a real struggle to find God. We have to put aside our egos, our fears, and our prejudices and really trust that God will teach us something valuable. All we are doing is giving God a chance to open our hearts wider.

The Examen is a method of reviewing your day in the presence of God. It’s actually an attitude more than a method, a time set aside for thankful reflection on where God is in your everyday life. It has five steps, which most people take more or less in order, and it usually takes 15–20 minutes per day. Here it is in a nutshell:
1. Ask God for light. I want to look at my day with God’s eyes, not merely my own.
2. Give thanks. The day I have just lived is a gift from God. Be grateful for it.
3. Review the day. I carefully look back on the day just completed, being guided by the Holy Spirit.
4. Face your shortcomings. I face up to what is wrong––in my life and in me.
5. Look toward the day to come. I ask where I need God in the day to come.

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