Ignatian Spirituality is closely associated with the Roman Catholic Church and dates back to medieval times. Coming from the life experiences of Ignatius of Loyola, a lay man, It took some of the great traditions of cloistered communities (lectio divina, meditation, contemplation) and adapted them for use in everyday life, outside the cloister.

Once it had been thoroughly tried and accepted, it was then applied to an ordered community, the Society of Jesus, known as the Jesuits. Even then, it was not intended for exclusive community use, but to be offered to laity who, like Ignatius, were seeking a deeper relationship with Christ while still involved in earning a living, bringing up families, studying, etc.

Considering it dates back to the 16th century, Ignatian Spirituality is coming into its own and perfectly adapted to modern times. It is not only a spirituality of the “real” world but also a radical lay spirituality, meant to empower a dynamic service of God both inside and outside the Church. Through the use of Scripture, meditation and contemplation and the ability to share one’s experiences with a good listener, this spirituality helps us find how we are to work along with God to bring a more Christ-centered focus in all areas of our human lives.

Ignatian Spirituality guides those who seek God, who is always at work in the world and within the heart of each person. This spirituality is helpful not only to Roman Catholics, but to people of many other faiths. It takes life in its entirety, as it really is, good and bad. It offers a way to find how best to use all that God has given us, so that we may partner with Him in bringing about healing in the world through the promotion of Peace, Justice, Truth and Love.

It offers a way to discern what God desires for us. It becomes a way to make effective choices concerning our true purpose in life as well as in the many decisions we are called to make on a daily basis.

The Ignatian approach to discernment is particularly relevant now in our rapidly changing world. We know, from Ignatius’ notes, that the judicious use of certain materials and methods of prayer helped him to sort through the effects of sin in his life and to discover and cherish God’s love. These insights he shared with others; and using these experiences further developed what later became known as the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: a way of seeking, finding and acting along with our active God, here/now/or wherever we are being led.

The bottom line in Ignatian Spirituality is “Finding God in All Things”.

(Adapted from an article by Joseph A. Tetlow SJ