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July 2022 Vol 61 No 3

The Ignatian Art of Moving Forward

‘Ignatius does not talk much of conversion, or formation, but speaks often of progress.’ Here Nicholas Austin, Master of Campion Hall in Oxford and a theological ethicist, presents an interpretation of how in the Spiritual Exercises and the Jesuit Constitutions Ignatius understands the way in which desired changes are brought about.

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Ecological Conversion as Vocation: Personal, Communal and Global Dimensions

Addressing the various ecological crises currently facing our planet requires not simply technological innovation, but the kind of large-scale change of mind and heart that has been called ‘ecological conversion’. Celia Deane-Drummond, Director of the Laudato Si’ Research Institute in Oxford, considers how such change might best be brought about.

Ongoing Conversion: A New Ignatian Ideal?

At times conversion has been presented as a one-off radical change, after which one lives out the consequences of the new beliefs or life-style. Philip Endean identifies a new strand in Ignatian spirituality which speaks of ‘ongoing conversion’, attributable in large part to a current understanding of grace and salvation rather different from that of Ignatius himself.

Preliminaries to a Conversion

It is not always recognised the Autobiography of St Ignatius opens in the year 1517, four years before his life-changing injury at Pamplona. Joseph Munitiz uses this clue to consider some of the factors which may have led up to his subsequent conversion which is being celebrated in this anniversary year.

Conversion: A Continuing Journey

In considering conversion, it is important to hear fromthose who think of themselves as having been through the process. Marion Morgan speaks here of her own spiritual journey which led her from the Anglican to the Roman Catholic churches, and on into the ‘what happens next’. She prefers the term ‘transformation’ as one which recognises the nature of continuing change.

Synodality: A Path of Personal And Communal Conversion

The Roman Catholic church is currently preparing for a world-wide synod of bishops, due to take place in Rome in 2023. It is clear, though, that in the mind of Pope Francis this is not a one-off meeting, but a chance to enshrine a new way of acting and discerning within the Church. Nathalie Becquart views this process through the lens of conversion, both personal and communal.

The Spiritual Exercises and Conversion

In speaking of what happened to him after he was wounded at Pamplona, Ignatius refers to ‘this new life that was beginning’. Here Patrick Goujon interprets this new life in terms of the inauguration of a continuing search, guided by a growing ability to perceive the dynamism of the Spirit of God at work in the world, a process that the Spiritual Exercises can help deepen.

A Theology of Christian Conversion

Understanding the experience of conversion was a key element in the theological enterprise of Bernard Lonergan. Finbarr Coffey draws on Lonergan’s writings, as well as those of Donald Gelpi, who critiqued his work, to offer an analysis of the conversion experience taking place across four distinct moments: religious, affective, moral and intellectual.

Religious Conversion and Moral Conversion: How Are They Interrelated?

It is unsurprising if someone who undergoes a religious conversion is then drawn to making moral changes in his or her life. Louis Roy asks here whether the process can work the other way: ‘Can a person’s strong ethical commitment prepare the way … for the development of her or his religious sense?’

Ignatius’ Conversion: A Hidden Encounter

The anniversary that provides the occasion for this Special Issue of The Way dedicated to the theme of conversion marks the fifth centenary of the battle in which Ignatius of Loyola was wounded, and after which he reconfigured his life. Rob Faesen draws illuminating parallels with that of another famous ‘convert’, St Francis of Assisi.

The Role of Place in Ecological Conversion

There is a danger that the idea of ecological conversion, and the role of spirituality within it, can appear abstract, disconnected from more immediate everyday concerns. Kevin McDonnell argues for the importance of a sense of place, of physical location, as an antidote to this tendency to disembodiment, offering the example of a rural Australian spirituality centre as a

Ignatius' Conversion: From a God in His Own Image to a God Greater than any Image

In considering the theme of conversion, it can be useful to ask what provides the spur for the changes that it brings about. Tiziano Ferraroni suggests that an important element in the conversion of Ignatius, as in many others, was a transformation of images deep within his psyche, and in particular ofhis images of God.

Conversion and Discernment

It is clear that there is a close link between Ignatius’ experience of his own conversion, and the process that he subsequent encapsulated in the Spiritual Exercises. Above all, these are linked by the idea of discernment. In this article Sylvie Robert presents a theological analysis drawing on the Rules for Discernment seen as rooted in ‘an interior knowledge of Our Lord’.

From the Foreword

O N 20 MAY 1521 the Basque knight Iñigo de Loyola was seriously injured by a cannonball while defending the town of Pamplona against French besiegers. His long recovery gave him a chance to reassess his life, and set him on the path towards composing the Spiritual Exercises and founding the Society of Jesus. The Society has been celebrating the fifth centenary of this event with an anniversary year, running up to his feast-day on 31 July 2022. The theme of ‘conversion’, chosen for this commemoration, is reflected in this year’s special issue of The Way.

As part of the same celebrations, Campion Hall in Oxford hosted the annual St Beuno’s conference in March this year, entitled The Art of Change: Ignatius and Conversion. The event brought together those involved in the theory and practice of the Spiritual Exercises, and three of its keynote addresses are printed as the first three articles here. Nicholas Austin suggests that the idea of progress is the best way of understanding Ignatius’ attitude to conversion. Philip Endean argues that current Ignatian thought sees conversion as ongoing rather than a specific event, and Celia Deane-Drummond writes about the concept of ecological conversion, which is reflected in several other pieces collected here.

Meanwhile the French Jesuits at the Centre Sèvres in Paris have also been celebrating the anniversary, and we take the opportunity to present three papers in translation. Tiziano Ferraroni and Sylvie Robert consider the theme as it is presented in the Spiritual Exercises, the former focusing on changing images of God, and the latter on the Rules for Discernment. Like Endean, Patrick Goujon is interested in tracing initial conversion as the beginning of a continuing search for the leading of the Spirit. Staying with Ignatius, Joseph Munitiz considers some of the factors that may have led up to his conversion, and Rob Faesan compares his experiences with those of another saint noted for a radical change of lifestyle, Francis of Assisi.

The Canadian Jesuit philosopher and theologian Bernard Lonergan wrote extensively on conversion, and two of our authors develop aspects of his thinking. Finbarr Coffey looks at four forms taken by such change: the religious, the affective, the moral and the intellectual. The Dominican writer Louis Roy focuses on two of these, the moral and religious, considering how conversion in one field inevitably affects the other.

The Roman Catholic Church is preparing for a worldwide synod of bishops in Rome next year. The process of preparation for this is being led by a Jesuit Pope, Francis, so it is no surprise that it is rooted in discernment. In her essay Nathalie Bécquart shows how this preparation can usefully be regarded as an extended conversion exercise for the Church as a whole. In a personal reflection, Marion Morgan looks back to the last time the Vatican supported such a fundamental rethink of the ways in which the faith could be presented, in the years following the Second Vatican Council—years in which she herself moved from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism. Conversion is often linked to specific times, as she shows, but may also be influenced strongly by place. Kevin McDonnell illustrates this by presenting an understanding of the call to ecological conversion shaped by the situation of rural Australia.

It is clear that the changes brought about in Ignatius as he spent months recuperating in Loyola were only the beginning of a process that would last for years, and indeed persist for the rest of his life. The writings gathered here all present conversion as the beginning of a journey, not its end. Celebrating the fifth centenary of the Pamplona cannonball is not to look back on a journey that has ended, but to demonstrate its contemporary vibrancy and relevance in a world that must continue to grow in its awareness of the Spirit of God at work. After 15 years, 59 issues, and approximately 500 articles published in The Way, the time has come for me to make way for a new editor. From the October 2022 issue Philip Harrison will occupy the editor’s chair. Philip is a British Province Jesuit, ordained in 2018, who has recently completed licentiate studies in sacred scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. I wish him well, and would like to thank all those who have enabled the journal to appear regularly in what have been challenging times for print media: the British Province of the Society of Jesus, for its continued support; the Editorial Board and editorial staff (you can find their names inside the back cover); all those who have submitted articles for consideration, whether or not we have published them; and above all my Assistant Editor, Elizabeth Lock who, as I regularly remark, does 90 per cent of the work involved in producing the publication that you are reading. Finally, let me thank each of you, the readers, for as is surely obvious none of this would be possible without you.

Paul Nicholson SJ

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