Ignatian Spirituality

Ignatius Loyola
Ignatian spirituality focuses on the insights and teachings of St Ignatius Loyola. (1491 – July 31, 1556) the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). His spirituality is primarily embodied and passed on through his Spiritual Exercises. This is normally experienced as a thirty day silent retreat made individually under the guidance of a spiritual director. The book The Spiritual Exercises is more a guide book for the director of the retreat rather than an easy "do it yourself" spiritual guide book.

After his conversion Ignatius visited the Benedictine monastery of Montserrat (March 25, 1522). There he gave up and left behind his military paraphernalia before the statue of Mary. He then went and spent several months in prayer and rigorous spiritual discipline in a cave near the town of Manresa, Catalonia.

This section of this website will develop to provide increasing resources drawing from and pointing to Ignatian spirituality.

As a start, there is much on this website currently on monastic, and particularly Carthusian spirituality. The connection between Carthusian and Ignatian spirituality I believe is not sufficiently made.

Prior to his conversion, Ignatius was a soldier defending Pamplona against the French in 1521. Ignatius was hit in the leg by a cannon ball, the town surrendered, and the French sent Ignatius home on a stretcher with his broken leg. His leg, however, healed badly. Ignatius was unhappy about the way it would make him look and demanded it be rebroken and reset. In fact it set crookedly and he was left with a permanent limp. During his period of convalescence he sought for material to read. All that was available was a Life of Christ, written by the Carthusian Ludolph of Saxony's (c. 1300-1378). The only other book available was The Golden Legend, a collection of lives of the saints. Reading these was part of the transformation of his life.

The Carthusians spend their lives as hermits (cf. Ignatius at Manresa). The Carthusian life is divided into weeks – each week the community has a walk together for recreation. The Spiritual Exercises are divided into “weeks” between which there is time for recreation.

In some ways I think Ignatian spirituality is a particular way of living Carthusian/monastic contemplative life “outside the walls”. Ignatian spirituality stands on the line of development of bringing monastic spirituality into daily, ordinary life for many of us. Ignatian spirituality is ideally being contemplative in action, being contemplative even in action.

The Jesuits continue this particular relationship with the Carthusians. Jesuits may transfer to the Carthusian order and even return to the Society without loss of position. These are surprising agreements.

As time permits, this section of the website will be developed. For now may I point to the Spiritual Exercises changing each week in the virtual chapel on this site.

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