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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Letters from Maryland on Ignatian Spirituality

Today's letter from Jean depicts a popular Jesuit writer on Ignatian spirituality. I have read and enjoyed all his books; he is one of the contemporary writers that my students enjoy reading.

Some Writings of Thomas Green, S.J.
"An internationally recognized writer on Ignatian spirituality is Thomas Green, S.J. who died last March. His nine published books are treasures of learning the art of prayer; the clarity and organization reflect the author’s decades of teaching, counseling and directing the Exercises. He has said he tried not to write the same book twice and that each one tackles a different aspect in the life of contemplation in action. To aid the reader in seeing the unifying threads and getting the most from his books he has grouped them under 3 headings: the Dynamics of Formal Prayer, Books Explicitly Treating Discernment and Books Discussing the Links Between Formal Prayer and Discernment in Specific Life Situations.
The books in the Dynamics of Formal prayer category are Opening to God, When the Well Runs Dry, and Drinking from a Dry Well. The first teaches the 'how to’s' of a beginning prayer life. The second deals with prayer beyond the beginnings and specifically accepting the dryness which St. John of the Cross says is the normal lot of anyone who perseveres in a life of prayer. The third discusses what God is doing and how we can best cooperate after we have come to be at home in the dry darkness of contemplation.
The books explicitly treating discernment are Weeds Among the Wheat and Darkness in the Market Place The latter is an earlier work that laid the foundation for later discussion of the mechanics of discernment. It asks what sort of person one must be, what faith version of life and experience is needed in order to be able to discern the Lord’s will. In the former, the author attempts to explain and apply to contemporary culture the classic rules of St. Ignatius Loyola for discerning God’s will in our life choices. NOTE: the author recommends starting the book with Chapter 3.
I will discuss one book from the third category of links between prayer, discernment and everyday life situations. It is called, Prayer and Common Sense and focuses on the extremely important quality of any genuine life of prayer: common sense. “God is really the most sensible person I know… anyone truly growing in holiness should be becoming more like God – more sensible.” We recognize the ‘Holy Person’ by Galatians 5:22 – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness and self-control. Those qualities in our unsteady growth lead to freedom.
His books are all still available and highly recommended. They are like having a warm, wise, supportive Jesuit director on call.

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