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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Letters from Maryland on Ignatian Spirituality

After having made the 30-day Spiritual Exercises in the Jesuit retreat house built over the cave in Manresa where Ignatius prayed and wrote them, I longed to see where Ignatius had been born and raised. I went back to Spain to give the 30-day retreat to priests and Religious in Spain and had many opportunities to pray in the cave, visit Montserrat and other places where Ignatius was in both Manresa and Barcelona, but did not get to Loyola in the north until I went back to Spain to teach a summer course on the Spanish mystics and managed to travel to Loyola. It was a wonderful experience and I loved seeing the house (a very modest castle), the room where Ignatius was converted while suffering from the wound in his leg that nearly cost him his life. It was there that he began to reflect on how the different spirts moved him and his own experience later gave us the Rules for the Discernment of Spirits found in his Spiritual Exercises.
With all that introduction to the next letter from Maryland, I am going to cut the letter and you will get part of it today and part later.


“Purposes of the Spiritual Exercises” and “Consolation and Desolation”

Margaret Silf is a lay married grandmother employed in the computer field residing in England trained by the Jesuits to accompany and guide others in prayer. She is the author of several very well selling and extremely helpful books on Ignatian spirituality. I am citing some of her thoughts from her book, Inner Compass, An Invitation to Ignatian Spirituality.
She states that the Spiritual Exercises offer methods of discovering answers to the most fundamental questions concerning every human being: “Where are you? How are you and why? And who are you?”. The Exercises help us to find the will of God within our own hearts. Citing Gerald Hughes, S.J. she said, “This will is never directed only to our individual benefit but to the well being of all peoples and all creation.”
She describes her book as a companion for the inner journey to be used gently and the landscape enjoyed as you go.
She says that the Spiritual Exercises include:

Discovering who I really am
Directing myself toward God
Noticing God’s action in my life
Responding to the movements of my heart
Discovering the nature of my deepest desire
Seeking God’s will
Becoming free of all that distracts me from my deepest desire
Making choices in line with my truest self
Connecting my lived experience to the life, death and resurrection of Christ
Responding to God’s love for me
Finding God in all things."

Look for the other half of Jean's letter about Margaret Silf and Ignatian Spirituality on August 1 as tomorrow is the Feast!!

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