For many years I have been drawn to Ignatian Spirituality. Yet it has been somewhat of a pushmi-pullyu relationship. My experience with the Jesuits calls to mind the nursery rhyme about the little girl with a little curl in the middle of her forehead. When Jesuits are good, they are very very good. When they are bad, they are horrid!
I once was part of a weekly prayer group. We used a book series of daily meditations that I found both quite helpful and quite troubling. I loved the essential principles introduced each day but their practical applications seemed twisted. Both the author and members of the prayer group were using these principles to endorse homosexuality, contraception, women priests, and general dissent from the Magisterium. It was only later that I realized this series of meditations was written by a Jesuit and based on the Spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius.
On the other hand, I have found many Jesuits who are brilliant and ardent defenders of the Faith. They apply the tenets of Catholicism to the everyday world with both charity and clarity yet never compromise the truth. Every encounter with these men, whether it is in person or through their writings, is an ennobling experience. They draw wisdom from the Spiritual Exercises without casting aside Church teaching. Their everyday lives exude the Jesuit motto: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam--for the greater glory of God.
Perhaps prompted by both the election of Pope Francis and the urgings of the Holy Spirit I have found myself reading and thinking more and more about St. Ignatius and the Jesuits. This past Lent I used a devotional based on the writings of St. Ignatius. Currently, I am reading The Jesuit Guide to (almost) Everything by James Martin, SJ. This is an introduction to Ignatian Spirituality written in a very folksy style. I am not far enough into the book to give it a thorough review, but so far it rings true. It is definitely not a scholarly tome but there is plenty of material to make you think. I like the summary of the Jesuit charism:
1. Find God in all things
2. Become a contemplative in action
3. Look at the world in an incarnational way
4. Seek freedom and detachment.
I look forward to developing a deeper understanding of each of these points as I journey through this book. I will try to keep you posted on the progress.