Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ignatian Spirituality

I just began reading a book by Joseph Tetlow, S.J., called Making Choices in Christ: The Foundations of Ignatian Spirituality. It's very good--a very clear explanation of the Ignatian version (flavor?) of spirituality, especially as it is lived out today. Fr. Tetlow makes the point that Ignatius always intended it to be used among the laity, and that this intention is being lived out very widely, especially since Vatican II.

He says that all traditional spiritualities are ways of life, in addition to ways of relating to God. This is an important point--how we relate to God and understand ourselves ought to influence how we live. It seems to me that this only happens after some self-reflection and consideration of our actions. (Which, by the way, is a particularly strong characteristic of Ignatian spirituality.)

Fr. Tetlow describes the difference between this spirituality and others: "Other spiritualities seek the God of love, or of beautiful order, or of truth. Ignatian spirituality seeks the God who is always at work in the world and in each heart. The purpose of the spirituality is to help us find how we are to work along with God to bring the reign of Christ to human life and good order to the natural world--to the everyday world as it is now." (p. 2) I think about some of the other spiritualities that he is talking about -- ones that speak only of my heart, my relationship with God. It seems that some of them are missing the crucial point of looking to the world and seeing God in it.

I just watched Hotel Rwanda. I am trying to reconcile in my mind the horrors of human hatred with the work of God in the world. But I think one thing Ignatian spirituality teaches me is that I have to look at the world and see the pain and suffering. That is the world, which is where we live, the situation we have to deal with here and now. So then, the question becomes, where is God in all of that suffering? In the aide workers, in all who seek to protect those in danger and comfort those who suffer.

It makes me so sad that we live in world where money is still considered more than people, than human life. But I have to remember that not everyone agrees, that there are many of us who would always stick up for anyone, even if they can bring us nothing more substantial than a smile or a little joy.

How do we change the world? I don't know--I know that I don't have control of the world. But I can change me, and I can show to others the love that God has for them. If enough of us want to do that, the world will change.

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