St. Ignatius Loyola’s 10 Guidelines for Negotiating Life’s Journey

pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago

One June morning, Brendan McManus, SJ, stepped out for a much-needed walk—to be exact, a 500-mile hike on Spain’s renowned Camino de Santiago. A few years earlier, he lost his brother to suicide, and the tragedy left Brendan physically, psychologically, and spiritually wounded. Something radical was required to rekindle his passion for life and renew his faith in God.

In Redemption Road: From Grief to Peace through Walking the Camino de Santiago, McManus tells his story of walking the Camino through the lens of Ignatian spirituality. Not surprisingly, he learns a number of lessons along the way for how to negotiate life’s journey.

  1. Remember that you are a pilgrim, just passing through life. You put yourself on the road, a journey into the unknown, to be open to hear God’s call.
  2. God is a pilgrim who’s always trying to find us, even in difficult situations. God is with you even if you are not with God.
  3. Walking puts you in touch with your deeper desires, what you really want. Following this longing will bring us to God.
  4. Keep on track by following the signs that are found only in reflection and meditation. Trust your inner compass to guide you.
  5. Take time out regularly to reflect on your path (i.e., Review of the Day); be flexible in progressively altering things as you go. Don’t be afraid of change.
  6. Take time over decisions; they are important “crossroads” moments in your life. Never make a hasty decision—rather, play for time, and ponder the options internally before deciding.
  7. If you get lost, be humble enough to backtrack to a known, sure spot. Beware of pride driving you on, getting you even more lost.
  8. Possessions are only temporary; don’t hold on to things too tightly. Practice detachment: use things insofar as they are useful, and discard them when they get in the way.
  9. You can expect fierce storms on the road. The important thing is not to be deterred from your course but to hang on tightly to those support structures you know to be sound (prayer, discernment, and reflection). Don’t change course, undo decisions, or alter the structure in midstorm.
  10. Protecting yourself is important, as is having good defenses against whatever comes. This means knowing your own weak spots and “unfree” areas, as this is where you are likely to be vulnerable. (Ignatius recommends fortifying your defenses to anticipate challenges.)

This list is excerpted from Redemption Road by Brendan McManus, SJ.

11 Comments on St. Ignatius Loyola’s 10 Guidelines for Negotiating Life’s Journey

  1. Jesus sought out the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He knew that they were dejected and confused over His death. He met them on this road to remind them of why He came and to give them comfort. Point number 2 reminds us that He is always seeking us on this road, to give words of encouragement and hope.

  2. This article is a confirmation that i am on the right path. I must not chsnge course. I only need to be committed eith my prayer life.

    • I think point 9 is saying that, in the middle of a path, don’t let a storm turn you back. Point 5 is being reflective at, perhaps, a junction–which way is God leading me? Doubt during calm is not the same as doubt/fear in the middle of a crisis. In my humble opinion, of course.

    • Point 5 is general.
      Point 9 is when in the midst of a fierce storm. Just hold your path til you are safe. Then 5 applies again.

    • I think 5 means being open to material change, whereas 9 is referring to not changing your strong spiritual patterns and practices when difficulties arise but rather to turn to those good habits.

  3. Hi Danielle
    I think the difference between 5 and 9 is that in point 5 we are encouraged to make changes after careful discernment and reflection, if we feel confident that this is how God is guiding us, whereas in point 9, I think we are being cautioned not to make kneejerk changes in the midst of uncertainty, but rather to wait until after the storm has subsided and then calmly reassess and take stock through the prayerful examen of the events.
    It’s reassuring to know, I think, that point 7 is telling us that even if we go in the wrong direction inadvertently, we can always return to the right place.
    I hope I have understood and helped you. We are all journeying together. God bless you.

  4. Prayer, discernment, and reflection are indeed formidable support structures for those privileged to keep walking.

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