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July 2014 Vol 53 No 3
Growth Points in Ignatian Spirituality

The Consolation of Character Strength in Ignatian Spirituality and Positive Psychology

The rediscovery of individual retreat direction in the 1970s owed much to contemporary developments in non-directive counselling. Here, Roger Dawson and Nicholas Austin argue that Ignatian spirituality today might similarly benefit from looking at work now being done in the field of positive psychology.

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A Contemporary Experience with the Rules for Almsgiving

Towards the end of his Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius includes a number of sets of practical guidelines that can be applied in everyday life after the retreat. One of these, the Rules for Almsgiving, is often overlooked. Janet Ruffing describes how she accompanied someone who was working intensively with these, and his experience of consolation in being drawn to share with those who have less than he himself does.

What Ignatius Did Not Know about Making Decisions

One of the key moments in making the Spiritual Exercises can be that of the ‘election’, or choice of a way of life. Nicolas Standaert shows here how this process is necessarily more complex that it was in the sixteenth century, when Ignatius wrote. In response to this complexity, he offers a range of insights from current psychological research on decision-making.

Adaptations of the Spiritual Exercises: An Example from Africa

The July 2013 special issue of The Way considered the topic of African Spirituality, presenting papers from a conference held in South Africa. In another contribution from that conference, Chikere Ugwuyani shows how the cultures and even the landscapes of Africa can and often should shape the experience of the Spiritual Exercises as they are presented on that continent.

Steadfast Kindness: Ignatian Spirituality for Caregivers

Many people will find themselves, at some period in their lives, caring for family members or friends who, through age or illness, are unable to fend for themselves. The question of how such care-givers can best be supported has become an urgent one. Kathleen Fischer describes resources to be found in Ignatian spirituality that have much to offer here.

The Spanish Autograph or The Latin Vulgate? A Return to the Sources of the Spiritual Exercises

Eric Jensen compares two early versions of the text of the Spiritual Exercises. Rather than favouring one at the expense of the other, he suggests that the two can best be seen as complementary, and that Ignatius himself employed them in this way. Contemporary spiritual directors would therefore do well to be familiar with both.

Ignatian Spirituality and the Order Of Malta

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, a group more familiarly known as the Knights of Malta, is a unique religious lay order with its roots in the eleventh century. Its spirituality has always been eclectic, drawing on Augustinian, Benedictine, and other traditions. Richard Wolff suggests that Ignatius’s own military background means that his spirituality may have something important for the Order today.

In Time of Consolation One Should Make Change: The Underlying Message of the Fifth Rule fortThe Discernment of Spirits

Ignacio Iglesias, who died in 2009, was one of the key figures in the development of Ignatian spirituality in the second half of the twentieth century. Here we present a translation of an article, first published in Manresa, concerning Ignatius’s teaching on times when it is good to make, and to avoid making, a decision.

Ignacio Iglesias: An Ignatian Enthusiast

Here Joseph Munitiz, a member of The Way’s editorial board, reviews a recently-published collection of essays by Ignacio Iglesias, and in doing so puts Iglesias’s own article in context. Munitiz presents Iglesias as the one chiefly responsible for launching the whole current revival in the study of the Exercises in Spain, which has resulted in the authoritative Diccionario de la Espiritualidad Ignaciana.

From the Foreword

IGNATIUS USED TO REFER to his recently founded Jesuit order as ‘this least Society’. This was partly to do with numbers. When it was established, in 1540, the order had only ten members. Even sixteen years later, when Ignatius died, its manpower could be numbered in hundreds, rather than the thousands and tens of thousands of some of the older religious families. But it was also a matter of longevity. There had been Benedictines for a millennium already when the first Jesuits appeared, and many other orders could point back to centuries of history. Ignatius, the order he founded and the spirituality that sustained it were very much newcomers into an ancient field.

In the nearly 500 years since then, however, the situation has changed markedly. Today, Ignatian spirituality seems to be one of those pathways to God that is most accessible to contemporary men and women. By borrowing insights and techniques from a range of other disciplines, but also offering those same disciplines reflective tools which they can themselves adapt and apply, it goes a long way towards living up to the quotation that is often applied to it, ‘finding God in all things’. Since the 1970s, when there was a large-scale rediscovery of many aspects of this particular spirituality, it has continued to grow, develop and expand its scope. This issue of The Way bears witness to some of those developments.

One area of study that has had an immense impact on Ignatian spirituality is the psychological sciences. At the time that the individually guided retreat was recovered—well described in the Spiritual Exercises but largely out of sight for several centuries—its practice owed nearly as much to Carl Rogers’ non-directive counselling techniques as it did to specifically Ignatian insights. This process of enrichment continues. Nicolas Standaert reviews current research into decision-making processes and asks how it might be applied to the experience of the Ignatian election. Nicholas Austin and Roger Dawson focus on a key aspect of positive psychology, that of character strengths, and relate it to the experience Ignatius describes as consolation. Showing that the influence and enrichment is not all one-way, Kathleen Fischer looks at how Ignatian spirituality might itself be of service in offering support to those engaged in caring, whether in a professional role or at home.

At the heart of Ignatian spirituality is the carefully regulated journey to and with God that is described in and guided by the book that Ignatius took so much care, over many years, to put together: the Spiritual Exercises. There are two principal ways in which knowledge of this work continues to deepen, and both are represented in this issue. The first is by a close study of the text itself, drawing out insights and making connections that have perhaps been unnoticed or implicit until now. Eric Jensen’s essay is of this kind, demonstrating how two different early editions of the book, both approved by Ignatius, can complement each other when taken together. The other way to come to know the Spiritual Exercises better is to offer the retreat that they describe to other people, and reflect upon aspects of that experience. Janet Ruffing here looks at how one retreatant, a man she calls Tom, worked with a single section of the Spiritual Exercises, the Rules for Almsgiving. With the help of Tom’s own descriptions, she shines a spotlight on an area of the text that attracts little attention in the standard commentaries. The article by Ignacio Iglesias shows how these two approaches can be combined by one who was both a careful student and an expert spiritual director and guide; and the review article by Joseph Munitiz helpfully puts the work of Iglesias himself in context.

Paul Nicholson SJ

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