What is discernment? Who was Peter Faber? Why do the Jesuits exude such optimism? Awareness. Emotions. Love. Work. We use such words every day in normal conversation, but those same words take on special meaning when used in the context of Ignatian spirituality. Other words and phrases, such as finding God in all things, are distinctly associated with the Ignatian approach to spiritual development. Acquiring a general grasp of these terms will prove invaluable to those who desire a better understanding of the Jesuit / Ignatian way of life. With Ignatian Spirituality A to Z, Jim Manney has provided a brief, informative, and entertaining guide to key concepts of Ignatian spirituality and essential characters and events in Jesuit history. The lexicon format allows readers to find terms quickly, and the concise descriptions are ideal for those new to the Ignatian story. From Pedro Arrupe to Francis Xavier, from Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam to Zeal, this book uncovers the rich language of the Jesuits. It will be an indispensable tool to anyone interested in Ignatian spirituality, to staff, faculty, and students at Jesuit institutions and schools, and to clergy and spiritual directors who advise others about prayer and spiritual matters.
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About the Author
Jim Manney is a popular author and co-author on Ignatian topics: What's Your Decision?, A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer, God Finds Us, and An Ignatian Book of Days. He has also edited many books on Ignatian spirituality, including What Is Ignatian Spirituality? He lives with his wife in Michigan and continues to write at ignatianspirituality.com/dotmagis-blog/.
Read an Excerpt
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
When I was a kid in Catholic school, the nuns made me put the letters JMJ at the top of my test papers and writing exercises. They stood for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph; it was a pleasantly sentimental appeal for the blessing of the Holy Family. Nobody made me write pious letters at the top of my papers in high school, a no-nonsense prep school run by the tough Irish Christian Brothers. But in college, initials reappeared. One of my freshman teachers, a Jesuit, would write the letters AMDG at the top of the blackboard at the beginning of every class.
If JMJ is on one end of the sweetness spectrum, AMDG is at the other. AMDG stands for the Latin phrase Ad majorem Dei gloriam, meaning "For the greater glory of God." It's the motto of the Jesuits, and when you think about it, it's a very bold claim. It declares that God is glorified by what I'm doing, even if it seems futile and meaningless. At the same time, it's a profoundly humble claim: the meekest work, even work that seems far removed from the spiritual realm, can give glory to God.
As the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote:
It is not only prayer that gives God glory but work. Smiting on an anvil, sawing a beam, whitewashing a wall, driving horses, sweeping, scouring, everything gives God some glory if being in his grace you do it as your duty. ... To lift up the hands in prayer gives God glory, but a man with a dungfork in his hand, a woman with a slop pail, gives him glory too. He is so great that all things give him glory if you mean they should.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam captures several of the central ideas of Ignatian spirituality — the conviction that God can be found in all things, the desire to find union with God through the work we do, and the importance of seeking the choice that will give God the greater glory.
Several important Ignatian ideas are given extra gravitas by being rendered in Latin (see Cura Personalis, Magis, and Suscipe). One is agere contra, which means "do the opposite."
Ignatius says we should do the opposite, agere contra, when we're plagued by self-pity, sloth, lust for wealth and power, and other troublesome desires. Often you'll see agere contra translated as "act against," but Ignatius meant something stronger than that. When you're beset by temptations, don't just pray that they go away. Desire the opposite. Ignatius gives the example of an ambitious cleric who is tempted to seek high church office because he wants the power and creature comforts that go with it. "He should strive to rouse a desire for the contrary," Ignatius says. If you lust for riches, seek poverty. If you want power, pray to be powerless. If you're feeling sorry for yourself, go find someone to help. If it's hard to pray, pray more!
Agere contra illustrates the vigilant assertiveness that permeates the Ignatian outlook. Don't get comfortable. Beware of settling in. Always be alert for the next thing the Lord is calling you to do.
When I was just getting started in Ignatian spirituality, I went to a workshop on discernment at a Jesuit retreat house with a bunch of highly experienced spiritual directors and others who had been around a long time. I was an outsider, but I foolishly tried to act as if I was part of the club. At lunch I asked a woman when she had made the SpiritualExercises. She said, "I made a nineteenth annotation retreat four years ago." I smiled and nodded. I had no idea what she was talking about.
Turns out that a nineteenth annotation retreat is a way to make the Exercises without going away to a retreat house for thirty days. You work with a spiritual director over six or seven months while keeping up your normal daily routine. It's often called a "retreat in daily life," and it's the most common way for people to make the Exercises these days.
Ignatius described this kind of retreat in the nineteenth of twenty-two "annotations" that he put at the beginning of the published version of the Exercises — hence the name. The annotations are Ignatius's ground rules for the Exercises, written for the director who leads other people through the retreat. They touch on some of the most important ideas of Ignatian spirituality.
The second annotation tells directors to stifle their urge to explain everything and let retreatants figure things out for themselves. Ignatius didn't want the Exercises to be an experience of words and ideas and concepts. "It is not much knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul, but the intimate understanding and relish of the truth," he says. This is one of Ignatius's firmest principles: God speaks most powerfully in our hearts, not our minds.
The fifth annotation says that someone interested in making the Spiritual Exercises should show "magnanimity and generosity toward his Creator and Lord." It's often thought that the Exercises are for people with great intelligence, holiness, education, and vast experience in spiritual matters. Ignatius doesn't mention these things. Instead, he's looking for people with a spirit of openness, curiosity, courage, and generosity.
In the fifteenth annotation, Ignatius tells the director of the Exercises not to get in the middle of what's happening between the retreatant and God: "Permit the Creator todeal directly with the creature, and the creature directly with his Creator and Lord." This is one of the bedrock principles of Ignatian spirituality. If we look for God, we will find him. We can have a personal relationship with God that's uniquely our own. This idea got Ignatius in trouble: he was suspected of denying the traditional teaching that the church was the mediator between God and his creatures. He was cleared of heresy; it is, after all, Catholic teaching that we can have a personal relationship with God.
The world would be a different place if everyone practiced the twenty-second annotation, known as the Presupposition. Ignatius writes, "It is necessary to suppose that every good Christian is more ready to put a good interpretation on another's statement than to condemn it as false."
Arrupe, Pedro, SJ
When you look at modern Jesuit history and talk to Jesuits about why the order looks the way it does, one name stands out: Pedro Arrupe. Arrupe was a cheerful, eloquent, and enormously charismatic man who was Superior General of the Jesuits from 1965–1983. He guided a renewal of the Society based on a deeper understanding of its initial Ignatian charism. He oriented the Society toward service to the poor and refugees and emphasized the centrality of the Spiritual Exercises to Jesuit ministry. His vision of training men and women for others reshaped Jesuit education and profoundly influenced Ignatian ministries of all kinds.
Some words attributed to him capture the spirit of Ignatian spirituality as well as anything I know:
Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.
Arrupe suffered a stroke in 1981 and spent the last ten years of his life in an infirmary, paralyzed and mute. He wrote: More than ever I find myself in the hands of God. This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth. But now there is a difference; the initiative is entirely with God. It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel myself so totally in God's hands.
In 1552, two of Ignatius's closest friends asked him to write an account of his conversion and the events leading to the founding of the Jesuits. Ignatius was reluctant; he was tired and ill (he died in 1556), and he was temperamentally disinclined to talk about himself in any case. He went ahead with it anyway, and it's a good thing he did. Ignatian spirituality flows directly from the life of Ignatius, and most of what we know about his life comes from his Autobiography. It's a rare document — the life of a saint in the saint's own words. It's only about 20,000 words long; you can read it in an evening.
Ignatius sees his life as a pilgrimage, and he refers to himself throughout as "the pilgrim." He covers the first part of his life in one sentence: "Until the age of twenty-six, he was a man given up to the vanities of the world, and his chief delight used to be the exercise of arms, with a great and vain desire to gain honor." The tale begins in 1521, when he was wounded in battle, and ends in 1537, a few years before he and his companions formed the Society of Jesus. It's a literal pilgrimage; Ignatius covered many thousands of miles as he crisscrossed Europe, and journeyed as far as the Holy Land. But the greatest value of the book is Ignatius's account of his spiritual pilgrimage. Nothing comes easily. He goes through spiritual trials and setbacks; doors close unexpectedly; plans fall through. But he gradually learns to open himself to God, who teaches him many things, "just as a schoolmaster treats a child whom he is teaching." In the end, when the pilgrim and his companions find their true mission "to help souls," they give themselves over to it completely.
Ignatius was not a great literary stylist; the Autobiography lacks the passion and flair of Augustine's Confessions. But the steady, matter-of-fact quality of his writing conveys something of Ignatius's personality. He comes across as a talented man without airs — something of an ordinary guy who thought that if God would bless him, he would bless anybody. You finish the story thinking that maybe something like this could happen to you too.
Ignatian prayer is about awareness. It emphasizes noticing, seeing, and visualizing spiritual realities. The Examen helps us find God's presence in the routine of our everyday lives. Imaginative prayer draws on our senses and imagination to bring the Scriptures to life and make the person of Jesus an immediate and powerful reality. Discernment sees the inner movements of the heart as signs of how the Holy Spirit is pointing us toward choices that serve God best and bring us a life of joy and satisfaction.
The underlying assumption is that God is active everywhere, trying to catch our attention. William A. Barry, SJ, puts it well: "Ignatius presupposes that at every moment of our existence, God is communicating to us who God is, and is trying to draw us into an awareness of who we are in God's sight. He is trying to draw us into a reciprocal conscious relationship." Ignatius found God when he learned to pay attention to his moods and feelings and to value his intuitions and perceptions. The essence of Ignatian prayer is becoming attuned to what is stirring spiritually within so that it becomes present to our consciousness.
Ignatian awareness has to do with these inner spiritual movements, not with ideas and abstractions. Ignatius worried that the Spiritual Exercises could become a theological discussion. He instructed the person directing the exercises not to explain things but simply to turn over the material for contemplation with only the shortest summary. He explained, "It is not so much knowledge that fills and satisfies the soul, but the intimate understanding and relish of the truth." Sensing, savoring God is what we're after.
I like the way the spiritual writer Lisa Kelly describes Ignatian awareness:
This experience of being fully present to Christ, or rather Him being fully present to me, stops my mind in its tracks. There is nowhere else to be or wander in to. Here in this moment, with Christ, is the only place I need or want to be. It is where I am most honest about what is going on in my life, where I hear revelation unfettered by the clatter of the day. Only in this full presence is there peace.
You can often sum up the main idea of a religious movement in a sweeping message short enough to put on a billboard by the side of the road: Follow the Spirit, Withdraw from the World, Obey the Rules, Pray More, Work for Justice, Live in Community, Live in Poverty. You can't really do that with Ignatian spirituality. It has a foot in all those camps. In fact, the Ignatian ideal is to reach a state of indifference, where all options are on the table and nothing is excluded. The only concern is to do what gives greater glory to God, and that can be many things.
The Ignatian charism is to hold opposing tendencies in balance. In the Ignatian view we must balance trust in God with confident use of our talents; enjoying our community with throwing ourselves into mission; revering sacred things with openness to the world; reflective inwardness with bold action; obedience to authority with hunger for change. One of Ignatius's favorite images was the "pointer of a balance."
Think of a child's seesaw in a playground, perfectly level with equal weights on each side, poised in balance on the fulcrum.
As religious images go, the point of equilibrium isn't very exciting. The word balance on a billboard along with a picture of a child's seesaw won't stir many passions. But to me it seems like a good symbol for a spirituality of everyday life. Getting through the day successfully usually means achieving balance, not finding "The Answer." It's a matter of "both/and" rather than "either/or."
Barry, William A., SJ
Ignatian spirituality took me over gradually. I waded into the Ignatian waters as an editor at Loyola Press, where I worked on books by Jesuit authors. After a while I was swimming there, and before I knew it I was swimming laps. One of the big steps along the way was encountering the books of William A. Barry, SJ. God and You is a wonderful book about prayer — passionate and clear, concise yet somehow touching on every problem and objection I had.
Then came A Friendship Like No Other. There Barry asks the question, "What does God want from us?" His answer: friendship. He compares the growth of our relationship with God with the growth of a friendship between two people:
Once we get over the kind of fear of God engendered by early training, we enter something like a honeymoon period with God. This is followed by a period of distance when we recognize how shamefully short we have fallen of God's hopes for us. This distance is closed when we realize that God loves us, warts and sins and all, and the friendship is solidified. We are able to be ourselves with God. Ultimately we can become collaborators with God in God's family business.
Barry develops his ideas in book after book: Our relationship with God can be intimate; we can walk with Jesus like a friend; honesty in prayer is better than pretending; and the big impediment to friendship with God is the notion — likely absorbed in childhood — that God is to be feared. Barry has also made a substantial contribution to the field of spiritual direction. A psychologist, he is coauthor (with William Connolly, SJ) of The Practice of Spiritual Direction, regarded by many experts in the field as one of the best books on the topic. In all he has written twenty books on prayer and Ignatian discernment.
Barry is one of a group of Jesuit writers and spiritual directors who brought Ignatian spirituality to a general audience in the 1970s and 1980s. Joseph Tetlow worked in the Jesuit Curia in Rome for many years, and wrote Choosing Christ in the World, a widely used guide for directors giving the Spiritual Exercises. George Aschenbrenner, author of Quickening the Fire in Our Midst, popularized the Examen and became an expert in priestly spirituality.
Howard Gray promoted the Spiritual Exercises and trained a generation of spiritual directors. David L. Fleming was longtime editor of Review for Religious and author of Draw Me into Your Friendship, an invaluable contemporary translation of the Spiritual Exercises.
Excerpted from "Ignatian Spirituality A to Z"
Copyright © 2017 Jim Manney.
Excerpted by permission of Loyola Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Preface: The Ignatian Alphabet, xiii,
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, 3,
Agere Contra, 5,
Arrupe, Pedro, SJ, 10,
Barry, William A, SJ, 21,
The Call of the King, 31,
Cardoner Vision, 33,
Consolation and Desolation, 38,
Contemplation to Attain the Love of God, 43,
Contemplative in Action, 46,
Cristo Rey Network, 50,
Cura Personalis, 51,
Decision Making, 55,
Disordered Affections, 66,
The Evil Spirit, 71,
Faber, Peter, SJ, 81,
Finding God in All Things, 86,
Fourth Vow, 89,
Friendship with God, 93,
Generosity, Prayer for, 97,
Gods Will, 99,
Helping Souls, 105,
Hopkins, Gerard Manley, SJ, 107,
Ignatius Loyola, 111,
Imaginative Prayer, 123,
Jesuit Conspiracy Theories, 133,
Jesuit Education, 136,
Jesuit Formation, 140,
Jesuit Jokes, 144,
The Jesuits: A Brief History, 147,
Jesuits I Have Known, 151,
Jesuits in Fiction and Film, 155,
La Storta Vision, 163,
Martin, James, SJ, 173,
Men and Women for Others, 175,
Nadal, Jerome, SJ, 179,
Our Way of Proceeding, 186,
Permit the Creator to Deal Directly with the Creature, 191,
Pope Francis, 195,
Pray as If Everything Depends on You, 198,
The Presupposition, 200,
Principle and Foundation, 202,
Rahner, Karl, SJ, 207,
Rules for the Discernment of Spirits, 209,
Rules for Thinking with the Church, 216,
Society of Jesus, 221,
Spiritual Direction, 223,
Spiritual Exercises, 225,
Superior General, 231,
Suppression of the Jesuits, 233,
Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre, SJ, 239,
Three Classes of People, 242,
Three Kinds of Humility, 245,
Two Standards, 248,
Ward, Mary, 257,
Xavier, Francis, SJ, 265,
An Ignatian Reading List, 275,
About the Author, 284,