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January 2019 Vol 58 No 1
Meaning in Light and Darkness

Living with Anxiety, Medication and Prayer

It is perhaps not surprising that drugs prescribed to mitigate the effects of anxiety will affect the life of prayer. It is less clear, however, what will actually happen in practice. In a frank and open article, Rob Culhane, an Anglican priest working in Australia, describes how his own ministry and spirituality were influenced by the medicines he needed.

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Marriage Vows in the Principle and Foundation

The preamble to St Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, the text called the ‘Principle and Foundation’, has frequently been regarded as dry, analytical, and rooted more in philosophy than in scripture. However, by comparing it with the language of the marriage vows, Gerry O’Collins argues that is can be seen rather as a rich, loving and even lyrical passage.

The Logos of our Lives: Viktor Frankl, Meaning and Spiritual Direction

The opening of St John’s Gospel is often translated as ‘In the beginning was the Word’. An alternative translation would be ‘In the beginning was the Meaning’. Victor Frankel, a leading psychotherapist of the twentieth century, wrote widely on the concept of meaning, and Richard Boileau here explores his work in the context of spiritual accompaniment.

Adoremus: Discover a Whole New World

Eucharistic adoration, where the consecrated host is displayed on an altar as a focus for prayer, is a Roman Catholic practice that can seem strange to other Christians. As part of The Way’s ‘Spirituality and Living’ strand, Margaret Scott, who first appreciated the value of this way of prayer before she became a Catholic, explains why it remains important to her.

St Ignatius: Embracing the Future

Ignatius of Loyola lived in a century when scientific developments made it possible to measure the passing of time much more accurately than ever before. Maurice Guiliani, in an essay translated from French, argues that a recognition of this fact has important implications for the understanding of Ignatius’ life and thought.

The Spiritual Exercises and the Jesuit Baroque

Ian Coleman’s starting point is the contrast between the seemingly austere Spiritual Exercises and the baroque art and culture that accompanied their dissemination and the growth of the Society of Jesus. Understanding the one making the Exercises as part of a worshipping community suggests to him a way of reconciling these contrasting impulses, and leads him to suggest that we should all be more baroque!

On Not Quenching the Spirit

In the first of two articles reprinted from Thinking Faith, the online journal of the British Jesuits, Nicholas King considers the process of translating the scriptures, taking the Lord’s Prayer as an example. He makes a case for a freedom of approach, even while acknowledging that ‘words matter very much indeed’.

Translating the Our Father

In our second article from Thinking Faith, Joseph Munitiz takes the same text as Nicholas King. For those unskilled in New Testament Greek, comparing different modern translations can be a useful way of reflecting upon the range of meanings that are available, and that together can enrich any appreciation of the scripture.

Ignatian Perseverance: Guidance from St Ignatius of Loyola for Those tempted to Abandon a Permanent Vocation

Discernment can lead a person into what, in the sixteenth century at least, were regarded as ‘unchangeable vocations’: marriage, the religious life and priesthood, for example. However, both then and now, some of those following such vocations later abandon them for other paths. Gabriel Mary Fiore asks how the Ignatian tradition deals with these circumstances.

Ministry in Light and Ministry in Darkness: Discerning a Vocation

Light and darkness are key elements in the imagery of the Christian imagination. Those engaged in Christian ministry will inevitably have to deal with both, in their own lives and the lives of those they serve. Caroline Worsfold draws on her experience as a hospice chaplain to explore these twin themes more deeply.

For the Love of Christ: A Critical Reflection on Two Standards

One of the key contemplations in the Spiritual Exercises, the ‘Two Standards’, seeks a clearer understanding of how the forces of good and evil operate in the everyday world around us. Gem Yecla describes her own experience of praying with this material on retreat, and the effects this has continued to have long afterwards.

From the Foreword

I N THE NORTHERN hemisphere, where it is produced, each January edition of The Way is compiled at the darkest time of the year. However, by the time it reaches you, the reader, the winter solstice has already passed, and here, at least, the days are beginning, almost imperceptibly, to get longer. Considerations of this kind are not incidental to the Christian faith, which employs such experiences in its presentation of God and the ways in which God works in the world. This issue of the journal considers experiences of light and of darkness, and asks what they can reveal to those who search more deeply into their meanings.

As a survivor of incarceration in Auschwitz, the Austrian neurologist and psychotherapist Viktor Frankl knew the darkness only too well. As Richard Boileau explains here, he found in the search for meaning a powerful antidote to that darkness. Rob Culhane draws on his experience of anxiety, and of the ways in which the drugs that he is prescribed for it influence his prayer and his ministry as an Anglican priest. Gabriel Mary Fiore suggests that persevering with a sense of vocation even when this leads into darkness can have a particular value, while Caroline Worsfold looks at the interplay of light and darkness in discerning a call from God.

The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius provide one forum where this interplay can be understood more deeply. Gem Yecla describes her own experience of one of the key exercises, which stages a stark confrontation between good and evil. The interplay takes time to make itself apparent, and Maurice Giuliani shows how a new relationship with time and how it is measured influenced the Ignatian world-view. Two articles challenge the idea that this process must necessarily be cool and analytical. Gerry O’Collins finds a passionate rhetoric echoing marriage vows at the very beginning of the Exercises, while Ian Coleman links this prolonged experience of prayer to the flamboyance found in sixteenth-century baroque art.

The ‘temptation’ into which we pray not to be led in many English translations of the Lord’s Prayer is another form of darkness. We reprint here two short pieces from the British Jesuits’ online journal, Thinking Faith, that consider how the process of translation can help to deepen the search for meaning in this most familiar of prayers, but can also impede that search, to the detriment of the searcher. And finally Margaret Scott finds in the practice of eucharistic adoration a source of light brings us awe and wonder.

Paul Nicholson SJ

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