Deliberately discerned choices

Adding to the accessibility of Ignatian tradition is the fact that it
brings almost 500 years of tradition to contemporary reality.


By Fr Michael Ryan SJ, Ignatian Spiritual Director 

I recently caught up with a colleague who, like me, had moved from a Jesuit education ministry to another sponsored by the Society of Jesus in Australia. While my Provincial had asked me to take a position in giving retreats, my friend had made a deliberate, discerned choice to ease back on his long association with school leadership to become a Provincial Assistant with Jesuit Social Ministries. As a layman, his own long career had given him first-hand acquaintance with different religious schools and their particular charisms. 

For him, there were a number of factors about Ignatian spirituality which eventually made for a seamless transfer of ministries. He spoke of the accessibility of the Ignatian tradition. He had found that this had been very attractive to parents and staff, often prompting a desire to know, and experience, more. He knew Ignatian history and had experienced how well resourced the Jesuit works were, but it was much more than that.  

He noted that people were attracted, drawn to, the deeper story of St Ignatius. The Spiritual Exercises explain that “love ought to show itself in deeds over and above words and that love consists in a mutual sharing of goods” – the essential foundation of the Ignatian charism and a spiritual maxim that generates momentum for living in this day and age. 

My friend was particularly drawn to the experiences of the early Jesuits and their work with the marginalised and the unloved. He saw theory and practice working seamlessly in a way that almost 500 years of history inform a lived reality for today. In turn he’s observed that his colleagues in ministry have relished the opportunities given to understand that deeper story of Ignatius. 

He commented on initiatives like the Jesuit Province’s Ignis orientation programs being so helpful to people of diverse backgrounds. Whether such programs were an introduction to the practice of the Examen or something as simple as what might be the difference between “Jesuit” and “Ignatian”, or even Jesuit and Catholic, this was all part of a personal uncovering of aspects of a God-given calling. Each of us in the wide Ignatian family has his/her own story, and it was a privilege to hear how my friend’s had unfolded over the years of his dedicated ministry. 

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