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April 2021 Vol 60 No 2
Ignatius and the First Companions

Ignatius and the Stars

Ignatius of Loyola has a reputation as a hard-headed administrator, guiding and steering his nascent religious order from the heart of the Church in Rome. His personal writings, however, reveal other sides to his character. Here Tim McEvoy considers one of these, Ignatius’ predilection for gazing at the stars contemplatively, and asks what if might tell us about the man in the light of the cosmology of his time.

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Ignatian Discernment and Thomistic Prudence: Opposition or Harmony?

Although Ignatius has become well known in recent years as a teacher of discernment, his methods have attracted criticism at times. It has been suggested, for instance, that Ignatius’ thought lacks the precision to be found in the writings of Thomas Aquinas. In this article Timothy and David Gallagher discuss how the Thomistic virtue of prudence might relate to, and supplement, Ignatian discernment.

Core Ingredients in Ignatius' Recipe

The well-known spiritual writer Anthony de Mello likened the text of the Spiritual Exercises to a cookery book. Here Gail Paxman develops that simile, exploring six of the ‘key ingredients’ in the Ignatian system, and looking at how they work together to produce the kind of conversion that is the goal of the Exercises themselves.

The Mendoza case in the life of Ignatius Loyola

In preparing the case of the canonization of Ignatius, the four-hundredth anniversary of which will be celebrated next year, a great number of witnesses were interviewed, and many incidents in his life subject to careful scrutiny. Here Joseph Munitiz presents one of these incidents, of a young man who mocked Ignatius and shortly afterwards met his death in unexpected circumstances.

Ignatius, Prayer and the Spiritual Exercises

What is Ignatian prayer? His Spiritual Diary suggests that Ignatius himself spent long hours in mystical contemplation, yet he forbade his earliest followers from following this example. A complex programme of imaginative contemplation has sometimes been seen as central to the Spiritual Exercises, yet they also suggest using whatever works. Harvey Egan sorts through these contrasting examples and practices.

Ignatius of Loyola, the First Retreatant: Psychological Traits of His Personality

Carlos Domínguez is both a professor of the psychology of religion and a practising psychotherapist. In this article he draws on both these areas to analyse the mystical experience of St Ignatius, which lies at the root of the spirituality that bears his name. This experience, Domínguez believes, decisively marked his personality.

The Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus: A Brief Explanation

In 2019 the Society of Jesus adopted four ‘universal apostolic preferences’, intended to guide its planning and work over the next decade. These preferences offer a contemporary expression of what it means to choose a pattern of life shaped by the experience of Ignatian spirituality in the Spiritual Exercises. Jack Zupez offers here a brief introduction to the preferences and what follows from their adoption.

Frontiers of the Spirit: The Mission of Spirituality Today

Human beings typically come to understand themselves and their place in the world by constructing large-scale explanatory narratives. Scientific progress, and economic determinism, are two such secular narratives. Religious faiths offer contrasting narratives to compete with these. James Hanvey finds in the Jesuits’ ‘universal apostolic preferences’ elements that can bridge the sacred/secular divide.

Pierre Favre through His Letters

Pierre Favre shared rooms with Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier when they studied together at the University of Paris, He went on to become the first ordained Jesuit, the one who, according to Ignatius, best understood the Spiritual Exercises. Here Mark Rotsaert uses Favre’s remaining extensive correspondence to complement the picture given in his Memoriale, his record of his spiritual life.

The Vocation of Jerónimo Nadal

When Ignatius wanted someone to promulgate and explain the new Jesuit Constitutions across Europe, he turned to Jerónimo Nadal, who then came to have a key role in the early Society of Jesus. A decade before his death in 1580 Nadal composed an account of his own vocation, a document known as the Chronicon. Joseph Munitiz asks what this can tell us about vocational discernment today.

The First Brothers of the Society of Jesus

As well as priests, there have always been non-ordained brothers in the Jesuit order. Recent research in Spain has given a detailed picture of the first four of these men. Hedwig Lewis draws on this research to present portraits of each of them, a Spaniard, and Italian, and two from Portugal, four ‘enthusiastic and committed laymen’.

From the Foreword

O N 20 MAY 2021 it will be five hundred years since Ignatius of Loyola was wounded at Pamplona, triggering his conversion from dreams of military glory to the service of a greater Lord. Next year marks the four hundredth anniversary of the canonization of Ignatius and another of the first Jesuits, Francis Xavier. Spanning these events, the current Jesuit General, Arturo Sosa, has called for the celebration of an ‘Ignatian Year’, offering an opportunity to reflect upon the origins of this particular pathway to God. This Special Issue of The Way, focusing on the person of St Ignatius and his First Companions, is one contribution to that celebration.

It is divided into three parts. The first series of articles considers Ignatius himself and the nature of the spirituality that bears his name. Gail Paxman draws on an image from the writings of a well-known spiritual writer, Anthony de Mello, to outline how the central elements of Ignatian spirituality work together to produce a conversion which in some ways echoes his own. Carlos Domínguez brings a background in psychology to his understanding of the mystical prayer that had a central role is shaping Ignatius’s personality, while Harvey Egan looks more broadly at the relationship between Ignatius’ own prayer and the kinds of devotion that he offered others in composing his Spiritual Exercises. Tim McEvoy considers what a habit of Ignatius—stargazing, attested both in the saint’s own Autobiography and by those who knew him—reveals about the man. In the first of two contributions to this issue, Joseph Munitiz takes up some of the evidence produced during the canonization process on a curious prophetic episode in Ignatius’ life. Two brothers, Timothy and David Gallagher, respond to the suggestion that Ignatian discernment lacks the rigour of the kind of analysis promoted by Thomas Aquinas.

The anniversary year is more than an opportunity for historical research, and in the second section of this issue ways in which the spirituality of Loyola is being lived out today are considered. The lens chosen for this is that of the ‘Universal Apostolic Preferences’, a set of guidelines chosen to channel the work of the Society of Jesus in this third decade of the twenty-first century. John Zupez outlines these preferences: what they are, how they were selected and how, it is hoped, they will aid an ongoing conversion of the Society as a whole. James Hanvey, who works as the Secretary for the Service of Faith in the Jesuit Curia in Rome, then situates the preferences in the context of the competing narratives, sacred and secular, employed by all who try to understand more deeply the meaning of the world and their place in it.

In the past few years a deeper understanding has grown up of how the Society of Jesus came into being. Without downplaying the central role of Ignatius in this process, the part played by a whole generation of early Jesuits has become clearer. Their experience and insights helped to shape this new kind of religious order. The third part of this issue presents some of the ways in which this shaping took place. Mark Rotsaert asks what can be learnt from the surviving correspondence of a key member of that initial group who gathered round Ignatius when he was studying in Paris. The Savoyard Pierre Favre was the first priest in the Society, and, in Ignatius’ view, the one who best understood the Spiritual Exercises. Joseph Munitiz’s second essay here considers the account that another central figure among those early Jesuits, Jerónimo Nadal, gave of his own vocation. While each vocation story is unique, Nadal’s story will resonate with those attempting to discern how and to what God calls them today. Hedwig Lewis draws on recent Spanish research to present pen-portraits of the first four Jesuit brothers, a group often overlooked in the histories of the early Society, which tend to concentrate on the exploits of its priests.

Paul Nicholson SJ

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