St. Ignatius would say, “It is not knowing much, but realising and relishing things interiorly, that contents and satisfies the soul.” Ignatius invites us to an in-depth examen not only of our ideas, but also our feelings, so that we can see where the path towards the fullness of human life is leading us and can identify and reject that which deceives us, entangles us, divides us, and takes away true joy.
This is just what spiritual discernment comprises. We have to accompany young people by helping them develop this capacity, which they already possess, so that amid so much information and so many distracting and tempting options, they can discern what is worthless and what is of real value, and zone in on what is essential. It is a reminder to not let oneself get distracted or swept up in superficialities, so that one may truly know oneself and others in depth. It’s also possible to promote this on social media, in the digital world, and that’s why we are there. We should not just be caught up in what’s new but try to go deeper. Young people also reach the point where they consider this themselves.
—Excerpted from Walking with Ignatius by Arturo Sosa, SJ
“Walking with Ignatius” – promises to be a fascinating road-map for our onward journey as pilgrims. Saint Ignatius of Loyola – Pray for us.
Sounds like she’s had many a rough “life experience” in her 20 years. I will keep her in prayer, as will I you, that you are empowered by the Spirit to effectively minister to her as her Spiritual Director. I work with young men who have aged out of foster care, and it’s tough to hear about the lives they’ve had. It can be hard to not always see my efforts bear fruit, but then again, I don’t know for sure when exactly it is that I may say something to them that’ll stick with them. Perhaps one of my biggest learnings from the professional world is “sometimes how one says something is just as, if not more, important than what’s said.” And sometimes, that greatest thing someone can do for someone is simply to listen to them. You simply listening to her may be what she needs most at this point. The young men I work with have a tough time growing Spiritually because of all of the anger and distrust their lives have left them with. Instead of trying to place Spirituality into them, I’ve found it fruitful, rather, to start by asking them what it is that’s preventing them from growing. Can’t put something into a given space if that space is already fully occupied. You’re serving this young woman and others, and in doing so, serving Our Lord. I encourage you to keep pouring yourself out to this young lady. In doing so, you live out today’s reading from Sirach 35: you give to the Most High as he has given to you – generously, and according to your means.”
HOW DOES ONE BEGIN A CONVERSATION WITH A YOUNG PERSON OF 20 YEARS OLD AND OLDER? THEY ARE MOSTLY INVOLVED WITH THEMSELVES AND FRIENDS AT THESE AGES AND HAVE NO LIFE EXPERIENCES. I AM ACCOMPANYING A 20 YEAR OLD FEMALE BEING AN ANANIAS TO HER. SHE IS SPIRITUAL BUT HAS HAD A VERY UNHAPPY AND DISTURBING CHILDHOOD. HER BIOLOGICAL MOTHER IS NO LONGER IN HER LIFE WHICH IS FOR THE BEST, AND HAS BEEN ADOPTED BY FAMILY MEMBERS. BUT SHE HAS REPURCUSSTIONS FROM CHILDHOOD, AND DOES NOT FEEL HER ANGER AND STREET ATTITUDE HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH HER CHILDHOOD. SHE NEEDS GOOD PSYCHO-ANALYSIS AND HELP BUT IS VERY EMOTIONALLY IMMATURE. I DO NOT HAVE THAT TYPE OF BACKGROUND BUT AM SUPPORTING HER SPIRITUALLY. ANY SUGGESTIONS? THE EXERCISES MAY BE TOO COMPLICATED FOR HER.