Ignatius's Balance

America magazine has republished a classic article by the late Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, that makes an intriguing argument. Dulles says that two tendencies are poised in tension in the spirituality of Ignatius: “between immediacy and mediation, between personal freedom and obedience, between universalism and ecclesiocentrism, between horizontal openness to the world and reverence for the sacred and the divine.” He says that the Ignatian charism is to hold these tendencies in balance:

A purely mechanical obedience without regard for the movements of the Spirit and a purely individualistic reliance on the Spirit without regard for ecclesiastical authority would be equally foreign to the heritage we have been exploring. For Ignatius it was axiomatic that Christians are called to achieve authentic freedom by surrendering their limited freedom into the hands of God. The theologian who is most prayerfully open to the impulses of the Spirit is best able to enter into the mind of the church and by this means to interpret the Christian faith in fullest conformity with the intentions of the Lord himself.

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Jim Manney
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 What Matters Most and Why. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. Balance. Non-attachment. Always that Eastern flavor. I guess that is why I always drawn to know more about Ignatian spirituality and Ignatius himself. Boy would I love to be able to pick his brain!


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