Four Keys to Ignatian Spirituality – 3

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To be prophetic in our world today


From the beginning of his mandate – already in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, his programmatic document – Pope Francis has spoken of a Church going forth, he exhorted the whole Church to recover that missionary impetus which seems to have declined in recent decades.

From this point of view, Ignatian spirituality has a prophetic element, because in Ignatius’ spiritual intuition, the Society of Jesus was born precisely as a mission-oriented priestly body. Over time, the priests have been joined by brothers, Jesuits who are not ordained, but who share fully in mission, uniting all, priests and laity, in that common priesthood which the Second Vatican Council reaffirmed as a characteristic of all the baptised (cf. Lumen Gentium 10).

Through Spiritual Exercises and the practice of discernment, the individual Christian recognises the specific call he or she receives from God and, by discerning the signs of the times, seeks to follow the Spirit who guides him or her to be that part of the body of Christ required for the evangelisation of the today’s world.

In fact, the Exercises and discernment mentioned above are not aimed at spiritual well-being, although many turn to Ignatian spirituality and the practice of the Exercises for this purpose, to find peace. Certainly through the exercises, a situation of peace-giving reconciliation is achieved, but the most genuine Ignatian spirituality always retains a concern, a tension towards the proclamation of the Gospel.

Especially during the second week of the retreat, the retreatant, who relives in prayer the main episodes of Jesus’ life and listens to His call, is enabled to identify his personal vocation and the way in which the Lord calls him to follow Him in the present world.

In this sense, the Spiritual Exercises, although they have a consolidated tradition behind them, are always new, always current, because they foster the communication of the Spirit who, with His creation, is capable of awakening that special missionary commitment, of which every place and every time has a specific need.

Fr Giuseppe Trotta SJ
Carla Bellone