St. Ignatius Loyola’s 10 Guidelines for Negotiating Life’s Journey

pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago
One June morning, Brendan McManus, SJ, stepped out for a much-needed walk—to be exact, a 500-mile hike on Spain’s renowned Camino de Santiago. A few years earlier, he lost his brother to suicide, and the tragedy left Brendan physically, psychologically, and spiritually wounded. Something radical was required to rekindle his passion for life and renew his faith in God.

In Redemption Road: From Grief to Peace through Walking the Camino de Santiago, McManus tells his story of walking the Camino through the lens of Ignatian spirituality. Not surprisingly, he learns a number of lessons along the way for how to negotiate life’s journey.

  1. Remember that you are a pilgrim, just passing through life. You put yourself on the road, a journey into the unknown, to be open to hear God’s call.
  2. God is a pilgrim who’s always trying to find us, even in difficult situations. God is with you even if you are not with God.
  3. Walking puts you in touch with your deeper desires, what you really want. Following this longing will bring us to God.
  4. Keep on track by following the signs that are found only in reflection and meditation. Trust your inner compass to guide you.
  5. Take time out regularly to reflect on your path (i.e., Review of the Day); be flexible in progressively altering things as you go. Don’t be afraid of change.
  6. Take time over decisions; they are important “crossroads” moments in your life. Never make a hasty decision—rather, play for time, and ponder the options internally before deciding.
  7. If you get lost, be humble enough to backtrack to a known, sure spot. Beware of pride driving you on, getting you even more lost.
  8. Possessions are only temporary; don’t hold on to things too tightly. Practice detachment: use things insofar as they are useful, and discard them when they get in the way.
  9. You can expect fierce storms on the road. The important thing is not to be deterred from your course but to hang on tightly to those support structures you know to be sound (prayer, discernment, and reflection). Don’t change course, undo decisions, or alter the structure in midstorm.
  10. Protecting yourself is important, as is having good defenses against whatever comes. This means knowing your own weak spots and “unfree” areas, as this is where you are likely to be vulnerable. (Ignatius recommends fortifying your defenses to anticipate challenges.)

This list is excerpted from Redemption Road by Brendan McManus, SJ.

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  1. I’m reminded of Mother Theresa of Calcutta who had visions of Jesus. He told her that He couldn’t go alone, into the slums, that He would go to them, through her. That is what is meant by God being a pilgrim, as He pilgrims in us and through us. That is how we are to see ourselves and others, with the face of Jesus. I hope this makes sense as to how God can be a pilgrim, as He resides in us and through us on our journey to helping others. We are one in the body, we are one with the Lord.

  2. I agree with Eric A. on point #2, god cannot be a pilgrim if god is everywhere and all knowing and created man in his image. If he were just another pilgrim than we created him in our image. Point #3 ,”Walking puts YOU in touch with your deeper desires, what you really want. Following this longing will bring US to God. From you to us? Point #8 has many meanings. Firstly it is so like buddah. Yet it is contrary for husbanding resources and saving for a rainy day. Not good economics. Yet again, sociopaths use people as things and discard them when they no longer have any use for them. Play it your way dude. An officer of the church (deacon) sent this too me so felt I had to read and respond and stir the pot. I shall know via our treading the camino a week hence.

  3. #2 ??? God finding us?? He knows where we are both spiritually and physically …Always! We are the ones who are confused ; if we seek Him thru Prayer, fasting, meditating, the gift of discernment or thru His Leading…we can fi8nd HIM!!! #4 Carefully listening for His Still voice is a better choice than trusting in our own power…His Yoke is easy, our own is heavy and laden full of our own wisdom not HIS!!

  4. Thank you. This is helpful. My only question is regarding # 9. Could it be that the storm is giving us a message about the course we are on, a kind of red flag that we should reconsider? OR should we stay on the course with deeper prayer and faith because God can make all things good?

    • It is important to know if I am the source of my storms by allowing sin to control my life. In which case, I am causing my own storms and I need the medicine of Reconciliation and Eucharist.

      If the storms are from other sources: spiritual dryness, illness, misunderstandings, lose of love ones that are dear, & etc. then I need to remember Jesus walks with me in the midst of my storms and I need to stay the course of Examen, Prayer, Spiritual Reading and Sacraments.

  5. Prayer, discernment, and reflection are indeed formidable support structures for those privileged to keep walking.

  6. Hi Danielle
    I think the difference between 5 and 9 is that in point 5 we are encouraged to make changes after careful discernment and reflection, if we feel confident that this is how God is guiding us, whereas in point 9, I think we are being cautioned not to make kneejerk changes in the midst of uncertainty, but rather to wait until after the storm has subsided and then calmly reassess and take stock through the prayerful examen of the events.
    It’s reassuring to know, I think, that point 7 is telling us that even if we go in the wrong direction inadvertently, we can always return to the right place.
    I hope I have understood and helped you. We are all journeying together. God bless you.

    • I think point 9 is saying that, in the middle of a path, don’t let a storm turn you back. Point 5 is being reflective at, perhaps, a junction–which way is God leading me? Doubt during calm is not the same as doubt/fear in the middle of a crisis. In my humble opinion, of course.

    • Point 5 is general.
      Point 9 is when in the midst of a fierce storm. Just hold your path til you are safe. Then 5 applies again.

    • I think 5 means being open to material change, whereas 9 is referring to not changing your strong spiritual patterns and practices when difficulties arise but rather to turn to those good habits.

    • I think the difference is between a typical day and a very rough stormy day. In a typical day we can see signs of where we are going by reviewing the choices we made during the day. During the storm we cannot see the way so we just have to hold on until it passes.

  7. This article is a confirmation that i am on the right path. I must not chsnge course. I only need to be committed eith my prayer life.

  8. Jesus sought out the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He knew that they were dejected and confused over His death. He met them on this road to remind them of why He came and to give them comfort. Point number 2 reminds us that He is always seeking us on this road, to give words of encouragement and hope.


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