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Modern stained glass windowSt Ignatius of Loyola 1491-1556 and his spirituality


Words of St Ignatius

“God who loves us creates us and wants to share life with us forever. Our love response takes shape in our praise and honour and service of our life. All the things in this world are also created because of God's love and they become a context of gifts, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily” 

“Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God's deepening life in me” 

from paragraph 23 of The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. 


Life of St Ignatius

Ignatius was born in Loyola in Spain in 1491 and at first pursed a career as royal courtier and soldier, until a cannon-ball ruined his flashy way of life. In his long convalescence, and starved of romantic books to read, he turned to reading on the life of Christ and his Saints. Fired with a new burning enthusiasm he sought to imitate St Francis and St Dominic in their poverty, to the detriment of his now frail health.     

Gradually he learned to note deep patterns of moods which he believed to be God's prompting in his life. This growth in his discernment of vocation formed much of what he later wrote of in his Spiritual Exercises. Finally the pilgrim Ignatius was ordained a priest in Paris and attracted others to his life of prayer and teaching the poor: and so the fledgling Society of Jesus (or Jesuits) was formed.     

Imaginative Contemplation (see Ways of Praying) using the senses is one of a number of ways of prayer recommended in The Spiritual Exercises, often thought of as typically Ignatian. His way of regularly reflecting on where God is for him in daily tasks, giving thanks for his presence and asking for grace to be more aware in the future has come to be known as The Examen  


Prayers of St Ignatius

Preparatory Prayer: For  the beginning of the day, before meditation or work.

"I ask the grace of God Our Lord that all my intentions, actions and operations may be directed purely to the service and praise of His Divine Majesty.Prayer of Commitment:Take Lord receive all my liberty, my memory, understanding, my entire will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me."


Jesuit Houses and Courses

There are no Jesuit Houses in our Diocese, but Mount Street, Jesuit Centre, London is nearby:  see www.msjc.org.uk  . Ignatian courses can also be found at The London Centre for Spirituality, Lombard St, London, see www.spiritualitycentre.org

St Beuno's in North Wales is some distance to travel from our Diocese but has an extensive programme of Events and Ignatian Retreats: see www.beunos.com 

Weekend Individual Guided Retreats by an Ignatian trained team are given at Buckfast Abbey,  www.buckfast.org.uk


Recommended reading



Book cover crowd sceneEyes to See, Ears to Hear  An Introduction to Ignatian Spirituality by David Lonsdale

A very comprehensive book, but not too scholarly for the general reader. The book covers both the life of Ignatius of Loyola and his spirituality. Particularly good is Ch 4 on The Discernment of Spirits, and Ch 6 on The Spiritual Exercises. Here Lonsdale explains why the Exercises are not a DIY manual but best used as the handbook for the one guiding the seeker. 


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