Finding God in South Sudan and the United States of America
erónimo Nadal, an early member of the Society of Jesus, said of the Jesuits ‘the world is our house’. Still today, many Jesuits travel between cultures, looking to Ignatian spirituality for tools to help them adjust and adapt. Oscar Momanyi compares insights gleaned from his experience of two very different cultures, those of South Sudan and of the United States of America.
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It is said that as church attendance has waned in recent decades, for many people art has filled the space formerly occupied by religion, that space where the most important matters in life can be contemplated. Yet art and religion are themselves closely involved, and Magdalena Randal here describes her own experience of encountering God’s Spirit through paintings.
Reachign Equipoise: The Relationship between Indifference and Discernment in the Spiritual Exercises
According to Helen Orchard the word indifference can conjure up ‘connotations of cool disengagement or even boredom’. Yet, as used in St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, it implies rather a prerequisite for that passionate search for God’s will which is the process of discernment. This article traces the connection between these two foundational concepts of spirituality.
Return to Galilee
After the discovery of the empty tomb, the disciples were told only that they must go to Galilee. Brian Purfield believes that this is an instruction relevant to Christians today, because they are in the same place as the disciples: ‘after the resurrection but before the return, entrusted with a message that is wonderful, but the import of which we do not quite understand.’
The Risen Christ, the Consoler
In the second of our Easter-related articles shared from the British Jesuits’ online journal, Thinking Faith, Iona Reid-Dalglish considers the ways in which the risen Christ can be met in the midst of everyday living. For her, it is this encounter alone that enables contemporary Christians to continue to live lives of discipleship.
A Pedagogy of Consolation
In recent decades, the spirituality of St Ignatius of Loyola has found rather different expressions in English-, Spanish- and French-speaking milieu. In a translation from his recent book Les conseils de l‘Ésprit. Lire les lettres d’Ignace de Loyola, Patrick Goujon explores the kind of advice Ignatius gave to those seeking to make decisions through a close reading of one of his letters.
Walking has become, over the last few years, the physical exercise of choice, at least for those who avoid anything more vigorous. It has also been, as Teresa White demonstrates here, a spiritual practice for centuries, in forms as diverse as treading the contemplative path of a labyrinth to joining the crowds on a long-distance pilgrimage.
Hopkins, Nature, and Laudato Si
Nancy Enright’s article introduces a new strand of Way articles, Our Common Home, for writing that explores the Christian duty to care for our environment. She offers a reading of the nature poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins in the light of Pope Francis’s ecological encyclical of 2015, Laudato Si’.
Words and Silence: On Reading Revelations of Divine Love and The Cloud of Unknowing
‘Mainstream Christianity, both ancient and modern, has consistently privileged the word over its binary opposite, silence.’ From this starting-point Kirsty Clarke considers two contrasting spiritual classics, the Revelations of Divine Love of Julian of Norwich and The Cloud of Unknowing, tracing the relationship between words and silence in each.
From the Foreword
ONTRASTING THE JESUITS with the older, more stable religious orders, Jerónimo Nadal, one of the early companions of St Ignatius, coined the phrase that forms the title for this edition of The Way: ‘The world is our house.’ No one joining this upstart congregation should expect to stay in one place, or even to simply move around within his homeland. Ignatius wanted men to go wherever the need was greatest, ‘even to the Indies’, and who would move on when a still greater need appeared elsewhere.
Since the sixteenth century, many societies and cultures have become much more mobile and fluid, and today it is not only Jesuits who live in expectation of perhaps frequent moves. A question linking many of the articles gathered here is what spiritual resources exist to enable someone to live with this level of adaptability. In the first essay, Oscar Momanyi presents two very different experiences, of living and working in South Sudan and in the United States. Both have good and bad features; but what is it that enables him to make the transition?
Ignatius himself was willing to give advice to those facing changes in their lives, and Patrick Goujon draws on his letters to describe the kind of counsel that he offered. Helen Orchard analyses two of the key concepts employed by Ignatius in guiding others in decision-making, arguing that it is only by a passionate attachment to the facts as they present themselves that a person can hope to choose rightly. In an article reprinted from the British Jesuits’ online journal Thinking Faith, Brian Purfield suggests that in our own attempts to discover where God might be leading us, we have much in common with the first disciples, sent uncomprehendingly to Galilee in the expectation of meeting their risen Lord.
The Christian tradition offers resources other than rational deliberation in its quest to discover how best to live a life of discipleship. Art has long been employed by many parts of the Christian church in this way—even when others have regarded that path with suspicion. Eliza Fernbach offers a personal testimony to the power of a number of paintings that have moved her. Moving from the visual arts to the literary, Nancy Enright considers some of the well-loved nature poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. This takes on a particular resonance when read alongside the second encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, with its subtitle, ‘On Care for our Common Home’. It is, perhaps, those with a wide experience of the fact that ‘the world is our house’ who are clearest in their conviction that it is in need of our care.
For much of the time those early Jesuits sent out by Ignatius went on foot, covering prodigious distances. Teresa White believes that the process and pace of walking itself can be harnessed as a spiritual tool, and points to examples from the labyrinth at Chartres cathedral to pilgrimages to Santiago do Compostela to support her case. The process of a pilgrim walk is itself frequently mundane—putting one foot in front of the other, finding food and shelter, coping with the quirks of your fellow pilgrims (and allowing them to cope with yours!)—and Iona Reid-Dalglish emphasizes that it is precisely in the mundane details of everyday life that the risen Christ can often be encountered.
‘The rest is silence.’ These last words of Shakespeare’s Hamlet are echoed in the last essay offered here. Kirsty Clarke presents silence and speech (or at least its core element, the word) as contrasting essential elements of any spiritual journey. Looking at two very different classics of Christian spiritual writing, the Revelations of Divine Love, by Julian of Norwich, and The Cloud of Unknowing, by an anonymous medieval author, she traces how these elements are presented very differently, yet each work finds both to be necessary.
Paul Nicholson SJ
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