Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Letters from Maryland on Ignatian Spirituality
# 4 LETTERS FROM MARYLAND ON IGNATIAN SPIRITUALITY
“The Ignatian Family”
While there is a genuine overlap there is also often a misunderstanding about the terms Jesuit spirituality and Ignatian spirituality. In truth the strong commonalty of the experience of the Exercises and teachings of Ignatius are shared by both Jesuit Companions of Jesus and both other religious groups such as Sr. Helen’s rscj community and the Sisters of Saint Joseph that taught me as well as lay groups based on the Exercises such as Christian Life Communities (CLC).The difference is that in addition to the experience of the Exercises the Jesuits also have a Constitution to follow plus vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and a special fidelity to the service of the Pope.
Fr. Jean-Marc Laporte, S.J. shares the discussion of this topic at a recent workshop in Rome following the Jesuit General Chapter 35 in an article called “Ignatian Identity and Mission: Beyond GC 35”. The proceedings were transforming on Ignatian and Jesuit identity and the common kinship between the groups. Because collaboration of Jesuits and non-Jesuits are at the heart of the mission of both, the non-Jesuits found themselves asking, “What about OUR identity?” and “Where do WE fit in?”. Sympathetic reactions plus previous bonding led to intense listening and that experience of grace made communal discernment possible,
The Jesuit GC Decree 6 gave official sanction to the terms Ignatian network, community and family. The latter is the preference of the participants. Three important points were also reached. First, the relationship between Jesuits and non-Jesuits in the Ignatian family is NOT one of concentric circles with the Jesuits at the center. Secondly, Non-Jesuit Ignatian bodies are AUTONOMOUS. This autonomy was explicitly recognized in relation to Christian Life Communities. Thirdly, the Ignatian “we” should be inclusive not exclusive.
Christian Life Communities, of which I am a member, are by self description a world community of lay organizations lived out in a local community of 6 to 10 people. There are members from all walks of life and the group gives support for members to respond more fully to God’s loving desires for them. The discerning stance toward life leads to a greater spiritual freedom. CLC mission is not an activity but a focus of energy and passion in living as Christ which entails a preferential option for the poor, simplicity of lifestyle and a sense of Church. The CLC way of living in the world incorporates 5 spiritual dynamics of the Exercises: finding God in all things, following the spirit, collaboration with Jesus, ordering relationships and living in true freedom.
More information on these topics may be found at:
www.jesuits.ca/orientations/ Click on “Ignatian Identity” . BE SURE NOT TO MISS the riches of the rest of the website, John Veltri S.J.’s “Orientations for Spiritual Growth”.