HomedotMagisSpiritual ExercisesThree Types of People Revisited

Three Types of People Revisited

3 pairs of shoes in different colors - image by Three-shots from Pixabay

In the Spiritual Exercises there is a meditation on “three types of people.” I think we are misled, though, by Ignatius naming these people as static “types” rather than dynamic beings, types of persons who cross some line and supposedly become forever. In this life, I don’t know that any of us is ever static. We are constantly moving, either towards or away from God. Our petty wants move us away. Our focused desire to be one with God moves us towards God.

On that dynamic journey we each have times of being all three people—times we are just too busy and don’t make the time to grow in this instant; times we do and say all the right things but don’t face what is really hindering us from growing; and times of equilibrium, when we can cast off our wants, knowing true fulfillment lies beyond them.

Lisa Kelly
Lisa Kelly
Lisa Kelly is a wife, mother, and Ignatian Associate living in Omaha, Nebraska. She works to help organizations integrate spirituality into their planning and systems. She and her husband, Tom, completed the 19th Annotation in 2005, just prior to spending two years living in the Dominican Republic with their three young children, supporting the work of the Jesuit Institute for Latin American Concern. Additionally they have lived in El Salvador and Bolivia for extended periods.


  1. Thanks Lisa for this very moving article. Indeed as pilgrims, we are moving all the time on God’s Holy Ground and in God’s Time. Here they say all roads lead to the Maker and Creator.

  2. An understanding I also came to, when doing the SE myself, over a decade ago – I was each of the three, according to current circumstances and spiritual understanding!

    • Thanks for affirming I’m not the only one who is constantly wavering on that spectrum! Maybe together we can make it easier to be that third type of person more often

  3. In St Ignatius Loyola’s memory, i firmly think, Tim Muldoon PhD is apt in articulating description of the ‘Three Kinds of People by St Ignatius Loyola. Using the word ‘misled’ by Lisa Kelly downplays the Spirituality of St Ignatius.

    The word ‘static’ versus ‘dynamic’ are both used in scientific experiments to gauge and dissect human identity. Isn’t the author in this instance downplaying St Ignatius perception?

    Tim Muldoon PhD iterated; “St Ignatius described three kinds of people: the postponer, the compromiser, and the free person.”

    In my mind, as some Theologians have asserted; St Ignatius had a much deeper sense of analyzing human-ness from a Spiritual perspective as noted in the Spanish original version; “conociniento interno”(Gregorianum, Vol. 95, No. 1 (2014), pp. 127-144 (18 pages).

    That simply means, in our struggle as humans and our love for the Lord will manifest itself in “a knowledge that is interiorly experienced and savoured”.

    This is the effect of our deep rooted love for the Lord hence our choice as humans to “follow him closely” despite our “struggles against sensual, carnal and worldly love”. The emphasis is more than “sight” but rather it is “insight”. One would guess, this line of thoughts based on our human understanding of where “faith-perception” begins versus “sensory-perception”.

  4. For some reason this fine article reminded me of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Dante’s search led him on a complex journey and we are all on such a journey. At the heart of our journey is our relationship with One who accompanies and is there for us. Even as the path throws up some difficulties!

    • Ignatius called our life journey a pilgrimage. He called himself a pilgrim. We are always moving in some direction on this journey. Ultimately, home to our best selves, a reflection of God.

  5. Merci pour ces lignes sur les 3 types d’hommes “en marche et en équilibre toujours fragile! L’image des 3 paires de chaussures et des 3 couleurs est bien mise en relief! 3 hommes en exercice !


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