I just wanted to share a pdf document as an example to some who might be thinking they would enjoy an experience with spiritual direction, but aren’t sure what it would look like. This is the first four of eight weeks of readings and prayer prompts we would be using. It’s actually very simple stuff and designed not to be too much for including in our daily lives. You could do this in an easy 15 minutes each morning and 15 minutes in the evening, Monday through Friday. Saturdays are for rest and Sundays are for gathering in worship with community.
Feel free to look it over and let me know if you’re interested in doing the exercise and chatting once a week through the experience. I have been very blessed over the years to have a couple of spiritual friends who guided me in engaging The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, and it’s always a deep time of immersing in God’s presence and scripture. It’s true, I’m not a Jesuit and I have not studied the many years that a man must study to become a Jesuit, but please don’t think I’m just appropriating their work all willy nilly. What I am offering is a small adaptation of The Exercises, my own simple creation that is based on my understanding of the spirit of Ignatius’ work. In the process of adapting ideas and wisdom from Ignatius I am hopeful that God is honored and heard, and that the man’s work might become more accessible to a broad audience of people including those not from the Catholic tradition.
When we chat, I may even refer to my father Ignatius, and I hope you’ll forgive me for the audacity. I feel a great debt of gratitude toward and affinity for the man, though my personal path has been far from that of a Jesuit priest. He was in many ways exactly the kind of man I’d like to be, and as I have been blessed with several fathers throughout my life, by biology and affection, I number Ignatius among the great men and women of faith I hold as spiritual parents.
Let me know if you’re curious about a journey together. The 8 weeks could be started any Monday, but there are already some beginning on this coming Monday, January 5th. You’d be a welcome addition. May God bless your new year richly!
Sometimes God brings us the friends we need at just the right moment, and other times we meet someone and just hold on for dear life because we know we found a treasure. I believe St. Ignatius of Loyola entered my life in a combination of both those movements… I am so thankful that God brought me in touch with Ignatius’ lasting influence, and I’m determined not to let go of my connection to him.
I have a painting on my bedroom wall of Ignatius with his community’s catch phrase, “AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM,” to the greater glory of God. I meant this to be simply a study, a first expression of a painting I was carrying in my heart. As often happens, my attention span gave out and the study is all I ever painted.
Today is his feast day, July 31st! It’s one of the few feast days I will think about in any given year and I always look forward to it. Ignatius is my friend, a spiritual friend and mentor. I’m blessed to have become an heir of his contributions to the world.
Ignatius, as I have come to understand him, was a mystic who enjoyed laughing. He was not terribly well educated in theology, but had a passion and a zeal, sometimes tempered by wisdom and sometimes not so much. He was devoted at once to community and individually hearing God. He was an opposable mind.
I like Saints who shine in their humanity as much as their connection to the divine, who make us stand in wonder at the way the two are so often one in the same, as God intended the two to intertwine in us. I like the way that Ignatius was a person of vision and visions, though he sometimes didn’t know what a particular vision meant. Such an occurrence didn’t cause fear or anxiety for Ignatius, because “perfect love casts out fear.”
He was a soldier turned saint. He was a Don Quixote. He was a renaissance dreamer who took a canon ball to the leg and was forced to slow down long enough to see what would matter most to him in life.
He taught me to pray with the saints. I had grown up with many “s” saints, the wonderful people of faith all around me, but I hadn’t grown up with the “S” Saints. Ignatius’ life work, his Spiritual Exercises, welcomed me into the joyful practice of praying with, and even just sitting with, a community of comfort, love and support I had not previously known. Suddenly, I joined the generations who call Mary “blessed” and I prayed with Jesus instead of only to Jesus.
I will always be thankful for my spiritual friend Fr Leo Murray SJ in Georgetown who patiently led me in the Exercises for four years. Community and friendships come to us in many ways, and the lasting influence of Ignatius’ joy and devotion is a gift I will always carry.