Our Spirituality

What Is Ignatian Spirituality?


Ignatian spirituality is a spirituality for everyday life. It insists that God is present in our world and active in our lives. It is a pathway to deeper prayer, to making good decisions guided by keen discernment (the ability to recognise God’s will in our lives) leading us to an active life of service to others.

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St Ignatius of Loyola

Ignatian spirituality is based on the spirituality of Iñigo Lopez de Loyola, later known as Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius was born in the Basque region of northern Spain in 1491. He was a person of many gifts: courage, leadership, and a strong personality. Click here for more on St Ignatius.

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The Spiritual Exercises 

Ignatius was seriously injured when his leg was shattered by a cannon ball at the battle of Pamplona.  During his long period of recovery at his family home in Loyola he started reading the life of Christ and the lives of the Saints.  It is at this point that he started to carefully note the movements of God’s spirit in his life and his response to them. These thoughts of Ignatius were to become the Spiritual Exercises. The Spiritual Exercises follow the spiritual journey and religious experience which transformed his life. 

In the Spiritual Exercises Ignatius identified ways that could be used to help others to discover their own spiritual journey. The Spiritual Exercises, inspired by the Gospel which demands that believers act justly, are characterised by an openness to the world. Ignatius believed that actions speak much louder than words. Ignatian Spirituality proposes a way where prayer leads to active service that aims to bring more justice in a world marred by injustice.

Today, the spirituality of St Ignatius continues to transform the lives of women and men who desire greater freedom to give and receive love more generously: persons who feel a desire to be more generous towards their Lord; a generosity characterized by love which is manifested more in deeds than words. Families, workplaces and communities who embrace Ignatian spirituality and way of proceeding continue to be shaped by the dynamic of prayerful reflection on experience leading to more generous and effective service. 

A Maltese translation of the Spiritual Exercises was published recently. Read more.

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Seeking and finding God in all things

Ignatius learned to reflect upon the events of each day and to become aware of where God had touched him during that day. He discovered that the whole of life was a pilgrimage in which he needed to be attentive and sensitive to the Spirit guiding him.

For Ignatius, the desire to help people found two principal outlets: helping the needy and engaging in spiritual conversation. Ignatius saw an intimate connection between spiritual conversation and the Spiritual Exercises. Spiritual conversation relies on an attentive heart shaped by prayer, listening characterized by openness to the other, and thoughtful consideration of how the fruit of this conversation might move us, with others, to action for the greater good of self, others, creation, and God.

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A faith that does justice

Ignatius’ desire to help people where they are remains pivotal in the nurturing of a faith imbued with charity that acts justly. At the international meeting of the Jesuits in 1995 (General Congregation 34) it was recognized that faith constantly invites the promotion of justice, entry into cultures and openness to other religious experiences. Justice relies on communicating faith, transformation of cultures and collaboration with other traditions. Inculturation requires communicating faith with others, dialogue with other traditions and commitment to justice. There can be no dialogue without sharing faith with others, evaluating cultures and deepening our concern for justice.

Ignatius knew that purposeful, prayerful reflection on experience develops an awareness and desire to respond to God’s constant invitation to act. We act with Christ’s generosity in whatever we do, no matter the position we hold or our background and experience. With Ignatius, we develop a realistic and grateful understanding of ourselves and the way God is calling us to act with intelligent compassion and forgiveness. God’s enduring love allows us to welcome all creation imaginatively and responsibly.

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Related links on Ignatian Spirituality – these links are split into categories:

1. Getting Started with Ignatian Spirituality

2. Beyond the Basics of Ignatian Spirituality

3. For those with an advanced level of understanding of Ignatian Spirituality

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