Both-And, Not Either-Or

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

Searching for Meaning Today: An Ignatian Contribution”

About Jim Manney 753 Articles
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is Ignatian Spirituality A to Z. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

1 Comment on Both-And, Not Either-Or

  1. A Jesuit I know (who is surely talking with the Lord, Ignatius, Rahner, and Lonergan now in the life of Heaven) once told me that it often took Ignatius 3 hours to get through presiding at Mass — he was often so moved.

    That insight surely shred to bits my former image of Ignatius as a cold, unflexible drill sergeant…!

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