Something for Lay People

Yesterday I gave talks about Ignatian spirituality to the parents of children in our parish’s religious education program.  While their kids were in class, the parents listened to me.  I enjoyed it very much.  One point I made is that Ignatian spirituality is a spirituality for lay people.  Ignatius was a layman when he wrote the Spiritual Exercises.  The people he worked with were lay people.  This idea seemed to resonate with at least some of the parents.  It resonates with me.  I like the fact that the Ignatian way isn’t for a spiritual elite.

DotMagis blogger Tim Muldoon is someone else who makes this point–more eloquently than I.  The British Jesuit website recently posted Tim’s excellent article “Why Young Adults Need Ignatian Spirituality.”  I pointed to this piece years ago on this blog, but I though I’d do it again.  Read it, and take the word to a lay person you know.


  1. I love Ignatian Spirituality but have nowhere to encounter it with others. Alot of other spirituaities (Carmelite, etc.) have groups for lay people that get together on a monthly basis. Are there any groups like that around here? I live in Waterdown, Ontario. Not too far from Guelph.

    • Hi Carolyn,
      Where you able to connect with an Ignatian Associate group? I too am seeking a group, I live in London, Ontario.

      Bonnie Wilson

  2. What about we widows who are homebound and live completely alone?
    We pray, but to a hard-of-hearing one, the phone is out.

  3. I didn’t find Ignatian Spirituality until I was 58 when I was a second year student in a seminary in Detroit, MI studying to become a Spiritual Director. Now that I have graduated from seminary with an MDiv degree, got my certification for Spiritual Direction I am a ordained pastor at a United Church of Christ Church in Saline, MI and I am only 65 years old. The point is you are never to old to follow God’s lead – its amazing where he points you and what adventures you’ll find.

  4. Carol, I wish you the best of luck with your future…I was sincerely impressed by your spiritual director’s efforts to stand by you and to fulfill his vocation until the very last…
    However, the article that Jim Manney mentions is not about people who are 40 or 50 plus…young adults as a group are a whole lot younger than that. I agree with Kim that people who are not SO young anymore, might need Ignatian spirituality even more. When you’re truly young you have so many more possibilities…

    • Joanna. Joanna. Since I seem to be the old lady of the tribe here (who thinks young while she refuses to name her age since people put us into categories which gives me another excuse to get mad), I hope you will think about that last sentence I just tripped over, the one where you said that “[w]hen you’re truly young you have so many more possibilities.” When we are older then the possibilities open out!!!! We have more time. More space. More knowledge. More patience (oops scratch that one, what a lie, Linda G). More discernment so we won’t make the mistakes we have to make when we’re younger. And it’s more fun because we no longer have an elder helicopering over us (Canadian term for parents who won’t stop parenting even after their kids are adults).

  5. Kim, even as I contemplate retirement, after a serious on-the-job injury requiring spine surgery, at 59 years YOUNG I find myself asking daily, in my Examen, “Okay, Lord: What do you have in mind NEXT for me?”
    Several second career choices have come to mind, all of which build on my prior experience, and a few of which might require some brief coursework, none of which is particularly arduous in terms of time or cash.
    I had been blessed a few years ago with a Jesuit spiritual director who was terminally ill, and when he moved into the provincial Jesuit health-care facility, we continued our direction sessions via Skype. That was his idea. That incident, and many more exchanges over the course of the next few months, taught me the following: 1. We are alive until we take our last breath, 2. There is always a mission that we have assigned to us by God, and it is our responsibility to discern it and put it into action, 3. If an idea is truly from God, He will assist you and give you the grace and perseverance to bring it to conclusion, and 4. Even old age, infirmity, and yes, end stage illness is an opportunity to advance His kingdom on earth.
    Right now my primary responsibility in life seems to be to complete my physical therapy regimen. This is how I’m doing it: When I go to my sessions in the pool or in the gym, I do it with a smile on my face. I talk to other patients, listen to them, and give them encouragement as we go through our workouts. Sure, the regimen is painful to work through, and I’m sore as all get-out afterwards. But I figure that a scowl on my face and complaints coming from my mouth will make me feel worse, not better. On the other hand, reaching out to others and being able to give them a smile or a kind word helps both them, and me. And telling someone who is faltering that day that I will pray for them that night has almost always been received with a smile and a “thank you.”
    I don’t know that it’s “offering it up” for anything, but I figure that a miserable-looking Christian who is convinced of failure is a pretty crummy advertisement for the Kingdom of Heaven.
    Just my two cents’ worth on the matter. I will pray that you’re able to complete your educational goals, and get the job of your dreams that God has in store for you.

    • Carol from half way around the world in Asia I have been inspired by your message specially your 4 points. Like you I have many times asked Jesus in my prayers “what will you have me do now that I am 66 and a serious heart patient. I feel totally useless like the proverbial fruitless fig tree that deserve to be cut down”. Now my prayer has turned to asking for the grace to make a loving offering to Jesus of each ordinary event or non event every relationship even this illness or struggle at discernment all these as a prayer of trust in His providence that I am in desire and in reality doing his Holy Will. And yes to smile often and be kind to all. Then I am at peace or at least will try to be so for others and as you said “to advance His kingdom on earth”

  6. Kim – I’m older than you and at 58 found this blog, dipped my toe into Ignatian spirituality, then dove in heart first! Ignatius speaks to us in this age as truly as in ages past, a natural Christ centered perspective. I especially agreed with the article’s reference that young people need to meet the Jesus of the Gospels. Important to learn about Tradition, ritual, but first and foremost we all have to develop a personal relationship with Christ.
    Rosalie, I second Linda G – I know a number of people who did not complete their educational requirements for their career aspirations and so are either being told to get it done now or are unable to enter into the job market of their choice. If you have what it takes, you’ll not find it too difficult to make it through the training. Prayers for you.

  7. Re Jim Manney’s comments on the laity.
    Dear Jim — Synchronicity once again! I have been pondering this all weekend, as I struggle with thoughts of envy. A new (unordained) Pastoral Associate has been hired for our faith community. This is good news, but I have longed to serve in such a capacity for at least 13 years. Am I credentialed? No. Am I qualified? Yes! I won’t give you my resume, but I merely call to mind that our Lord Jesus Christ was not credentialed, nor were the Apostles. One of them was even a tax collector. Jesus was a nobody from a nothing locale. He served other nobodies, the detritus of society. I conclude that I am, with others like me, in good company after all.

    • Don’t take it personally. She likely has Business Administration certification or something to that effect. The way business is going now (the office in a church is a business like any other office) you need to have papers before they will hire you. I worked home care for years and suddenly needed a certificate so I took the training and decided I hate that kind of work so I quit all my jobs so the last laugh is on me. However you do need to have training for most jobs now and you also need to have a few years experience before they will even look at you. Don’t take it to heart, just take a course and then you will find a job. After you get experience somewhere (figure that out).


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