Desires and Discernment

Sean Salai, SJ, interviewed writer, spiritual director, and Jesuit novice director Mark Thibodeaux, SJ, about discernment of spirits in the Ignatian tradition. When asked about distinctive features of the Ignatian approach, Thibodeaux replied: Probably the most surprising feature of the Ignatian approach is the premise that God’s will can often be discovered in our “great desires.” Much of Christian spirituality presumes that our desires are bad and will lead us to sinful actions. Ignatius believed […]

Following Our Deepest Desires Like the Bees

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved honeybees. My grandfather raised them on his retirement farm, and I used to love to help him out at the hives. We’d go to harvest honey or simply to check in on the bees’ health. Bees fascinated me for the way that their hard cooperative work could produce something so sweet and gratuitous. This summer, in the midst of my summer retreat, I spent some time contemplatively […]

Wading into the Ocean

Ignatian spirituality often focuses on being attentive to the nature of our own desires, especially in discernment. Ignatius discovered that following God’s will is not a question of repressing our desires but rather of getting to know better what we really want. Our deepest desires sometimes are not what we initially think them to be. For example, many college students begin with a concern to earn good grades, to prepare to get a job, and […]

Our Human Need for Happiness and Fulfillment (A Letter)

A reader wrote and asked: How does Ignatian spirituality address the human need for happiness and fulfillment of the whole person? Dear Ignatian Friend, Thank you for this question! While I know I do not have all the answers nor the space to give as thorough an answer as I would like, I do want to offer a few ideas on how I believe Ignatian spirituality helps us address our human need for happiness and […]

What Do I Really Want?

The question to be constantly asked in decision-making is “what do I really want?” Deep down, that’s what God wants too. God wants what is best for us. This isn’t something repugnant, or burdensome, or sad, or difficult. The way of life that God desires for us is the way of life we desire. “What do I really want?” is a simple question. But simple doesn’t mean easy. Usually this question is quite difficult to […]

Being Free Is Demanding

In celebration of the release of Pope Francis’s book, The Church of Mercy, several of our dotMagis bloggers will be sharing reflections this month based on the words of Pope Francis. Pope Francis is a Jesuit, formed in the spirituality of the Spiritual Exercises. So it’s not surprising that he zeroed in on one of the central ideas of Ignatian spirituality when he found himself in front of a group of students from Jesuit high […]

My Secret Desire to be Rich

This post is based on Week Two of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure. When I got to the second week of my Ignatian Prayer Adventure, I was struck by the seventh day’s question: “What are you looking for?” As soon as I read this I thought about a Jesuit who told me that there were always three questions asked on an Ignatian retreat. The first question starts off simple: What do you want? The second question then […]

The Sponge and the Rock

During the icy cold “polar vortex” in early January, my landlord asked me to leave the taps dripping at night to prevent the pipes from freezing. The problem was that the sound of the dripping water from the kitchen faucet hitting the metal sink was keeping me up. It was irritating. So I placed a sponge in the sink and let the water drip into that—no more loud clang when the drops hit the metal. […]

The Problem with Indifference

Brian Busse, SJ, says that our desires will save us. “It is in our deepest desires that we discover the heart of God.” Apathy toward our self or someone else is among the gravest rejections of freedom and love. Indifference feigns tolerance by saying that you’re acceptable in a way that suggests that it really doesn’t matter who you are. Love suggests the opposite: that you’re acceptable exactly because of who you are and not […]

Finding God in Our Desires

Do you know anyone with doubts about God?  Point them to three recent articles by Fr. Jim Martin, SJ, in the Huffington Post. Martin says that God can be found in a feelings of incompletion, common longings and connections, and unusual “mystical” experiences. These are expressions of desire: our desire for God and God’s desire for us. The trick is to recognize them as such. Martin tells a story: One friend, a self-described workaholic who […]

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