Ignatius was always dealing with polarities: the divine and the human, the individual person and the corporate body, mission and community, spirit and law, charism and institution, the universal and the local, and so forth. The temptation or easy option, when faced with such polarities, is to choose one over the other. Such an either-or approach simplifies life, avoids uncertainty, and lessens stress. But it is flawed. It ignores the complexity of life even on a purely human level, and still more, the profound mystery of God’s plan for his creation.
Ignatius, by contrast, embraced a both-and approach. He acknowledged that he had to take with equal seriousness the divine and the human dimensions; the rights of the individual person and of the corporate body; the imperative of outgoing mission and the necessity of a nurturing community; the priority of spirit and the need of law to enshrine it; the spontaneity of charism and the continuity achieved through institution; the soaring universal vision and concrete local commitment; God speaking within each human heart and God speaking through the Church. If all this brought tension, then so be it!
Brian O’Leary, SJ