Ignatian Indifference

Often, we think about freedom as freedom from interference from others, but St. Ignatius understood freedom differently. For him, human freedom is a freedom to grow in relationship with God and share in God’s redemptive work. This requires internal freedom or what Ignatius called “indifference.” Indifference means being detached enough from things, people, or experiences to be able either to take them up or to leave them aside, depending on whether they help us to […]

Four Reasons We Resist Letting Go

Why do we resist letting go of unhealthy, or disordered, attachments? What happens inside us that makes us hang on for dear life, even when hanging on is hurting us? Here are some ideas. I resist letting go because, at some level, letting go feels like failure. I don’t want to admit defeat—that I can’t finish a project well, that the relationship is never going to work, that I can’t change a situation no matter […]

The Inner Process of Letting Go

What has to happen inside a person before she can let go of attachments that are harming her? The attachment can be physical, such as a house or keepsake; it can be emotional, such as resentment about an incident or fear of an unwanted outcome. Attachments can be needs—the need to understand everything completely, or the need to force things into an order she can manage. Attachments can be relationships or jobs, or even dreams. […]

Accepting Grace

Ignatian spirituality appeals to people of multiple Christian denominations, as a recent post at Las Puertas Abiertas de Par en Par shows. Rosa reflects about what the Ignatian concept of indifference has meant to her and what she has learned in her life on a farm. These beautiful lines are worth noting: This business of unclenching my hands is not just about surrender. It is also about accepting the small, never-ending and absolutely sufficient, gifts […]

My Mother’s Suscipe

My mother, Rosemary Mulligan McCann, was a brilliant woman, and it was particularly hard for us to watch as Alzheimer’s seeped her brilliance from her. When St. Ignatius encourages us to be detached or indifferent to an outcome or a decision, he knows detachment leads to a freedom which will bring us closer to God. When I think of that kind of freeing detachment, I often think of my mother’s last years. Over those difficult […]

Mary as a Model of Indifference

In many discussions of Ignatian indifference by Jesuit colleagues, the paradigmatic stories revolve around leaving behind jobs, projects, and relationships for the sake of mission. But I struggle to make sense of indifference in that way, since I live the life of a layperson where my intimate relationships are long-term. I’ve been married for 25 years, am the mom of two, and my closest friendships span many years. If life is not that of a […]

Snow Art and Indifference

As many of us deal with the effects of snow and frigid temperatures, here’s a video of British artist Simon Beck’s snow art to help us appreciate the beauty of the season. Beck’s canvas is ever-changing with the winds, so that he often wakes up in the morning to see the previous day’s art blown away. But it’s a lesson in Ignatian indifference, acknowledging that the meticulous work of one day has to start anew […]

New Year’s Gift of Indifference

As we move out of the Christmas season and into the New Year, my family is cleaning up the last decorations and storing away extra gift wrap and boxes. It reminds me of a prayer from many Christmases ago, when my spiritual director suggested praying about what gift I’d like to offer to Jesus and what gift I thought he might be offering to me. This suggestion was given at a particularly difficult time in […]

How Indifferent Are You?

Ignatius really means it when he says that we need to be “indifferent to all created things.”  In his Principle and Foundation at the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises, he says “we ought not to seek health rather than sickness, wealth rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, a long life rather than a short one.” To make it even more challenging, Michelle Francl-Donnay suggests that we write our personal version of that sentence, inserting […]

The Grace of Detachment

The grace of indifference or detachment is often what we hope for in prayer. It is the place where we have surrendered to God the outcome of our hopes, fears, and worries, and we trust God enough that no matter what happens, “God’s grace will be enough for me.” Detachment is not always a gift I like receiving in prayer, at first. Intellectually, I understand that detachment or indifference can be a fruit of prayer. […]

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