Ignatian spirituality continues to encourage us to practice awareness and deepen our faith by reviewing the moments of our daily experiences in a prayerful way. Mindy Hills, DMin and Spiritual Director, offers insights into how these daily prayer practices can enliven our new year resolutions.
In October 2021, twenty-five eager spiritual seekers began an eight-month Ignatian retreat guided by spiritual directors with Dominican Center Marywood. The continued uncertainty of COVID and health precautions warranted this retreat be offered virtually one evening per month for yet another year.
As we welcome a new year, I'm reminded how the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola remain relevant today.
Ignatius, a 16th-century Spanish courtier, provides insightful guidance on identifying a practical path that aligns our resolutions daily.
Experience the Divine in Yourself, Other People, and Everything Around You
Ignatian spirituality is an incarnational spirituality in which through Christ’s coming, we experience the divine presence in other persons, in the world, and in creation. Using reason, will, imagination, feelings, and senses we are invited to make meaning of experiences and channel them toward specific goals.
Whatever you are doing, that which makes you feel the most alive, that is where God is.
~ Ignatius of Loyola
After suffering an injury leaving him bedridden from the Battle of Pamplona against the French, St. Ignatius began to notice the consolations and desolations in his reflections. Dreaming about courtly heroism left him depleted, yet when he reflected on serving God, he felt a deep and energizing peace. This new awareness led him to make a radical change in the direction of his life. He met a group of university students who became his companions. In 1540, they together founded the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits, a community of priests and brothers that became known throughout the world for spiritual development, preparatory and university education, and justice advocacy.
God created us to praise, reverence, and serve God and in this way to save our souls. God created all of the rest of creation to help us achieve the purpose for which God created us.
Ignatian Spirituality Offers an Encouraging Daily Practice
St. Ignatius encourages individuals to reflect on their desires, resources, and vulnerabilities as a way to grow. In the Spiritual Exercises, his manual for prayer guidance, Ignatius suggests a five-step daily process, known as the Examen, used to capture life-transforming experiences. They remain relevant to this day as practical exploration of awareness and intention to help people concretize their daily resolutions.
The Examen is a primary time of prayer, of “being with God.” Ignatian retreatants are encouraged to spend time prayerfully recalling significant daily moments by using the Examen as an introspective prompt and reserving time for reflective prayer and journaling.
THE EXAMEN OF CONSCIOUSNESS
- Relish — Notice the moments that went well. Acknowledge strengths, vulnerabilities, positive and negative feelings, and areas of encouragement and discouragement as gifts. Give thanks. Trust that God was at work today.
- Request — Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you through the rest of your day. Expect to be surprised by new insights.
- Review the day — Notice the most significant moments. Linger with the pieces of your day that you want to remember. Who wore God's face for me today? Ignatius would move beyond listing strengths and weaknesses to discover how feelings advanced or impeded his goal to serve God and others.
- Repent any mistakes or failures — Ask what might disrupt your understanding of yourself and the world. Recognize missed opportunities to do good. Feel God's forgiveness and mercy when you recall challenges.
- Resolve in concrete ways to live tomorrow well — Deepen your commitment to God’s purpose for your life. Ask God to show you what kind of person you are being called to be.
- Conclude — Pray the Lord's Prayer.
If it's a part of our daily life, God is in it.
~ Ignatius of Loyola
Like Ignatius, we need to revise our resolutions and reflect on how to proceed despite feeling discouraged at times. Our path will not always be smooth, but the key is to patiently and deliberately cooperate and respond to what better leads us to God’s desires for our lives. Our prayers can then be directed toward developing a spiritual sensitivity to ways God approaches, invites, and calls us into communion with him.
Check back soon for information and registration details for the 2022-2023 Ignatian Retreat ~ Seeing God’s Presence in Your Daily Life.
Dominican Center Marywood at Aquinas College is a ministry of Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids.