Finding God in All Things
Ignatian Spirituality is 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, good decisions guided by keen discernment, and an active life of service to others.
Before he was to be founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius of Loyola was a war-wounded soldier. The year 1521 found him recovering from grave injuries suffered during the battle of Pamplona. Those many months of convalescence proved to be a journey of healing, not just for his body, but also his soul. Ignatius documented his conversion experience in the “Spiritual Exercises.” They would become the foundations of Ignatian spirituality.
This spirituality is deeply rooted in becoming more aware of what is happening in your daily experience – finding God in all things. You can then begin to discern where the spirits of light or darkness may be trying to lead you. We become more aware of God’s presence in our lives and more attentive to His desire’s rather than our own.
St. Ignatius had mystical experiences that gave him an understanding of the importance of the Trinity–Three Persons in One God–Father, Son and Spirit. He was also committed to laboring with Jesus Christ carrying the Cross. Ignatius understood that God is an active God, ever at work in people’s lives. We are called to be attentive to this active God and promptly respond.
Ignatius found that what attracted and fascinated him, filled his imagination with hope and motivated him, often came from God. He learned that God encounters us in these affections, in powerful emotions that move us to act. We need to be truly free to discern among the various spirits that move us. Ignatius referred to them in terms of “consolation and desolation.” When we learn to properly interpret them we have a sure way to distinguish between good and evil spirits and opt for life and not death.
God thus encounters us interiorly and beckons us to fall in love with and follow him by contemplating the Gospel, entering deeply into the mystery of Jesus Christ. The habit of daily prayer is the key for this ongoing process. We are called to follow Christ as disciples, thus integrating our life through loving service of others, especially the poor and marginal. And we live Christ’s values in the Church, in Christian community.
We integrate our lives into our community by faithfully responding to God’s creative generosity. We gratefully love in return showing it “more in deeds than in words.” Ignatian spirituality stresses that the marvelous gift of “finding God in all things” is possible for all. We become contemplatives in action united with God in ordinary activities and not just in special moments of prayer. Ignatian spirituality breaks down the barriers between the sacred and the secular, and so it is especially suited to the laity, to men and women who seek to make sense out of their busy lives.