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January 2024 Vol 63 No 1
The Politics of Discernment

A Political Philosophical Perspective on the Two Standards

In a society marked by conflict between political groups, the Spiritual Exercises inculcate an openness to the transformation of human desire. If we allow our personal political interests to be transformed in the light of the Gospel we can work towards the common good.

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Laudate Deum: An Invitation to Live in the Real World

Pope Francis’ latest apostolic exhortation invites us to rededicate ourselves to the task of living sustainably in the light of overwhelming evidence of ecological degradation. A new world where human dignity goes hand in hand with interconnectivity.

Some Political and Cultural Implications of the Spiritual Exercises

The Spiritual Exercises are not just for believers, but have profound implications for society and culture. The Principle and Foundation, and Meditation on the Two Standards encourage us to propose Christ and his Kingdom for the whole of humanity.

Reclaiming Our Original Identity: Communion, Community and Ministry

A phrase from the baptism narrative of Jesus is the touchstone for this article which explores the themes of communion, community and ministry in the work of Henri Nouwen to conclude that spiritual practice leads us to become aware of contemporary problems and take action to solve them.

The Bride of Christ as Spiritual Directee: John of the Cross and Spiritual Direction

An innovative comparison between John of the Cross and two of the founding figures of twentieth-century postmodernism elucidates a deeper understanding of the role of the spiritual director who must be prepared to leave the social world behind to follow where God is leading.

Discreta caritas in the Writings of Ignatius Loyola

The commonly misunderstood phrase from the writings of Ignatius is clarified as the ‘discerning love’ that gives us the capacity to know what loving action we are to perform in any given situation.

Future Mission: An Uncertain Sound

Recent history has seen a shift from the colonial model of the foreign missionary to a recognition that evangelisation is to be entrusted to the local Church. One of the protagonists of that shift reflects on the invitation to let go of our political assumptions and trust in God.

A Reflection on Spiritual Motherhood

The inculturation of the Gospel by female religious congregations in Vietnam has accommodated to the matriarchal structure of indigenous communities. A member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Peace reflects on the vocation to spiritual motherhood.

From the Foreword

Last summer's film Oppenheimer tells the story of the designer of the first nuclear weapon. It reminded us of the fragility of human life before the means we still have at our disposal to destroy ourselves. Yet even in the darkest moments of human history, hope has sprung anew, strength has been received and we have been able to walk forward in confidence. The human spirit was made indefatigable, nourished by the hidden well-spring of God's life. Each of the articles in this issue touches upon the theme of resilience, a growing strength in the face of adversity. With God at our side we stand forever at the threshold of hope. In the wake of the first nuclear attack in Hiroshima, Pedro Arrupe searched through the wreckage of the city and tended to the surviving victims. Based on his work with survivors of trauma, Robert McChesney invites us to notice and respond to these hibakusha who lived with the continuing impact of what they had experienced. He shows how, through the incarnation, God reveals the desire to walk with all those affected by violence. Later Pedro Arrupe's own suffering after his stroke gave him the opportunity to discover for himself that he was, more than ever, in the hands of God. Mary Cohen draws out spiritual inspiration from his self-surrender for sufferers of dementia and their carers today. Bill Watson's empirical approach to the Examen Prayer is the fruit of many years of helping people to implement it in their lives. His work has been based on a profound insight into the connection between the prayer and Ignatius' own traumatic past. The prayer encouraged Ignatius to heal from the spiritual trauma of a ruptured relationship with God. A critical appraisal of the role of spiritual direction in recovery from trauma enables Berry Bishop and her co-authors to show what helps and hinders in spiritual ministry. They argue that the role of the director is to build a spiritual home where life can be received once more. In an article reprinted from our online sister journal Thinking Faith, Gavin Murphy found that the Jesuit novitiate was not, in the end, the home where he would flourish, but in his surprising journey to mental well-being he finally arrived in the same place. The First Week of the Spiritual Exercises is one place where we can acknowledge our human fragility before the love of God. In an exposition of the role of vulnerability in virtue ethics, Woo-jung Kim argues that as we look upon the cross we recognise that God shares our vulnerable nature: The culmination of this revelation of God's vulnerability is Jesus dying for us on the cross. When we understand this vulnerability, we can recognise our own vulnerability, as our nature reflects God's attributes and participates in God's nature. Although some theologies have claimed that God abandoned Jesus on the cross, Robert Green argues that God neither abandoned Jesus nor does he forget any one of us, with important implications for pastoral ministry. Two of the articles here tackle the positive and negative impact of the global pandemic. Annemarie Paulin-Campbell's experience of the online ministry of spiritual direction helped deepen her understanding of how Ignatian spirituality can be adapted to time, place and person. The pandemic brought to light a human fragility that could easily make us feel uncertain about the future of humanity. However all the articles in this issue give us cause for hope. We walk with growing strength, reassured by God's continuing presence even in the midst of adversity. Gerard Garrigan makes the following invitation: Let each one of us live our own improvised lives in this extraordinary time with the delightful originality with which our loving God created us in his glory with joy, with verve, with zest, with hope and, most of all, with swing.

Philip Harrison SJ

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