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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Spiritual Exercises at Busted Halo

There's an interesting post at Busted Halo about Ignatian spirituality - about Ignatius of Loyola and about his Spiritual Exercises - an interview with Jim Conroy SJ, the head of The Jesuit Collaborative, a an East coast organization whose mission is to promote the Spiritual Exercises outside the Society of Jesus (h/t to Fr. Martin SJ). I was especially interested to see the interview as I've just started going along with Creighton University's online Ignatian retreat in everyday life. Here's just a bit of the interview ....


Busted Halo: Can you tell me what exactly the Spiritual Exercises are?

Jim Conroy: Sure. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius is a 500-year-old tradition of prayer based on the experiences of Ignatius of Loyola, who was a 16th century solider, courtier of the Spanish court. He was wounded in a battle in Pamplona as this massive conversion experience, and then begins to go more deeply into his relationship with God. And it’s really out of those experiences — a reflection on life and how God was present within his own life — that he began to understand the basic movement of God’s spirit in his life.

... (snip) ...

BH: I think a lot of people often think that the religious experience looks the same for everyone — that we all become these pious people that separate themselves from the world. One of the things I like about the Exercises is it doesn’t seem to create an artificial divide between the world and God.

JC: Absolutely. Let’s take music for example, the absolute beauty and truth of music is the poetry of the soul. Well that’s an enormous gift. So, a gift like music that is given to us to not only develop skills and talents, but to appreciate, and connect us to, that which is beyond — if one just plays music and thinks “my God, I’m really good,” you’re missing the whole damn point. But if one enters into music and into the relationship that is there — of creativity, of imagination, of what it does for other people — well, there’s a dialogue that begins to take place. And you become open to being transformed. And the gifts that you have in that area grow beyond what you can imagine. It’s not what you can do; it’s to imagine what can be done with this gift in a broader way. So creativity, imagination, the use of your talents and skills, not driven solely by your own energy and ability but open to receive from a culture in which your dialogue was based in truth — to see where that will lead. You necessarily lose control and it becomes larger and takes on a dynamic on its own that in God is a beautiful thing.

It’s about being who you are. It’s about being rooted in your primary relationship with God. And that’s the truth. It’s the truth of a simple person. It’s the truth of a homeless person who looks at you and says, “I need a dollar. Can you help me?” And they may be addicted; they may be problematic; there may be a hundred issues. But they are loved by God and they are touched with their need and the dignity of what it is to be a human being. When they speak out of that truth, you have to listen .....

There are questions of love, of justice, of truth. Those are the kinds of questions that I think young people have. And often enough, in terms of young Catholics, they’re kind of looking at the Sunday church, and Mass, and the faith communities, and they’re saying, “There’s not a lot there for me” … “Is it imaginable that I belong to God? And if so, how do I get in touch with that, and what truth comes to me as I let that relationship develop?”

It seems to me that the 21st century is really the century of the laity. And if the Spiritual Exercises can enhance the ministry of lay men and women, it’s all to the greater glory of God. And if I can add this piece to it, it does seem to me that with Ignatian spirituality, once it takes hold and begins to have that multiplier effect, it gives to men and women who have that experience of God the ability to speak out of that truth of their experience. It’s not what Father said or what Sister said; it’s what I know from my own relationship with God. Now that’s all informed by our theology and by our faith, but to have legitimate experience with prayer and relationship with God — it gives you a confidence and even the words to speak the truth that you know ..........


I have a past post about Ignatian spirituality for those who want links and more info - Ignatian Spirituality


Anonymous James said...

great post - enjoy your blog Crystal, isn't Ignatian Spirituality fantastic. I've seen you over at Steve Bogner's so it's good to be part of somewhat of a community. Good times!

2:21 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi James,

It is fantastic :) Thanks for the kind words. I remember you from Steve's too. It is good to feel part of a community - this is pretty much my only Catholic community, so I value it.

2:34 AM  
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