The Ignatian Tradition of Spiritual Wisdom
Finding God in all things,
Listening with a discerning heart,
Choosing to live for the greater glory of God.
In his conversion experience, St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, noticed how God led him to pay attention to the diverse “voices” inside of him. He gradually learned to discern the sources of these voices: which of them came from God and which of them drew him away from God. Throughout this time, Ignatius learned how important it is to look for God in the stuff of his everyday experience; he learned that God was shaping and forming him to be a companion of Jesus.
The fruit of these months of prayer and reflection is contained in his Spiritual Exercises, written more than 450 years ago. St. Ignatius believed that he received a gift from God that not only enriched his own Christian life but also was meant to be shared with others. The gift was a “method,” a way to seek and find God in all things and to gain the freedom to let God’s will be done on earth. This way of praying allowed Ignatius to discover the voice of God within his own heart. These methods of prayer that are outlined in the Spiritual Exercises help each individual to follow Jesus and seek God’s will in any circumstance. Ignatian spirituality stresses the need to take time to reflect and to pray. This active commitment to seeking God’s leadership is called discernment.
In this tradition:
The First Principle and Foundation
The goal of our life is to live with God forever.
God, who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us
All the things in this world are gifts of God,
presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God
insofar as they help us develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal.
In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice
and are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
a deeper response to our life in God.
Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads to the
deepening of God’s life in me.
—St. Ignatius as paraphrased by David L. Fleming, S.J.
from the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises
Find out more about our Thirty-Day Spiritual Exercises and 19th Annotation Retreat