Editor’s note: This post is part of “Counting the Gifts of Ignatian Spirituality.”
Here are 10 things I love about Ignatian spirituality.
1. It promotes lasting happiness.
One of my friends gave me a coffee mug that reads “Do more of what makes you happy.” Every morning, it makes me happy just thinking about doing things that make me happy! I am also reminded of St. Ignatius’s belief that those noble desires closest to our hearts that make us most happy deep down—not passing fancies or things that we want but know aren’t good for us—reveal God’s plan for us. Ignatian spirituality helps us to get in sync with God’s plan for each of us. When we are working along with God’s plan we are most deeply happy and fulfilled. 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.
2. It helps us to come into relationship with God.
Ignatius taught that we are put on earth to praise, reverence, and serve God. Yet relating to the concept of God can be difficult. Through the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius takes the abstract concept of God and facilitates an intimate and personal relationship in which we come to know God’s gentle and compassionate love for each of us.
3. It helps us make good decisions.
It’s often hard to choose the best path. In the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius laid out a solid framework through which a person can make good decisions.
4. It’s accessible.
Ignatius taught that God can be found in all things. Every day, God’s love is active and demonstrated in the people, places, and things around us—not just in big, grand gestures but often in the moments of everyday life. We just need to keep our eyes open!
5. It encourages balance.
Ignatius encouraged his followers to take care of themselves in body, mind, and spirit. He also encouraged an even-keeled and grounded approach to life, neither dwelling too long on the bad nor on the good. Ignatian spirituality offers a balanced, realistic outlook and a practical approach, not just to spirituality, but to life in general.
6. It encourages gratitude and optimism.
Over the years, Ignatius developed an “attitude of gratitude.” He found daily life to be laden with gifts from God, whom he found in all things. He incorporated gratitude as an essential component of his daily Examen. Rooted in his deep faith in a living Savior who came to earth and died to redeem each of us, Ignatius’s example inspires a hope-filled confidence that, through Christ, all will be well.
7. It encourages positive communication.
Ignatius encouraged his followers to assume the best in others. In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius advised retreatants that, “it should be presupposed that every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor’s statement than to condemn it. Further, if he cannot interpret it favorably, one should ask how the other means it. If that meaning is wrong, one should correct the person with love; and if this is not enough, one should search out every appropriate means through which, by understanding the statement in a good way, it may be saved.” (Presupposition, SE 22) How many misunderstandings might be avoided if we brought this communications approach to our daily life as well!
8. It keeps us connected.
Followers of St. Ignatius are called to be “men and women for others.” This requires us to be connected in community, sharing our gifts and serving others. As we serve, we start to “walk in the shoes” of others, and we grow in compassion.
9. It helps us become our best selves.
When we experience true kinship with our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we want to work in partnership with God in helping to eradicate injustices. In this way, Ignatian spirituality encourages us to do more and be more, revealing our best selves.
10. It helps us make the world a better place.
As we walk in solidarity with others, seeing Christ in each person and striving to alleviate their suffering, we make the world a better place. Ignatian spirituality enables us to work in a real way toward building the Kingdom of Heaven on earth—and this gives great glory to God.
When I sip my coffee and think about this, it makes me happy—deep down happy. How about you? What do you love about Ignatian spirituality?