Ignatian spirituality is grounded in the belief that God is active, personal, and present to us in our daily lives. We don’t have to retreat from the world to find God. God’s presence can be found everywhere—in our work and our relationships, in our family and friends, in our sorrows and joys, in the sublime beauty of nature and in the mundane details of our daily lives. It’s often said that Ignatian spirituality teaches us to “find God in all things.”
The two primary forms of prayer taught in the Exercises are meditation and contemplation. In meditation, we use our minds. We ponder the basic principles that guide our life. We pray over words, images, and ideas.
Contemplation is more about feeling than thinking. Contemplation activates the emotions and stimulates deep desires. In contemplation, we rely on our imaginations to place ourselves in a setting from the Gospels or in a scene proposed by Ignatius. We pray with Scripture rather than studying it in an academic manner.
The discernment of spirits underlies the Exercises. We notice the interior movements of our hearts, and discern where they are leading us. A regular practice of discernment helps us make good decisions.
All the distinguishing themes of Ignatian spirituality are based in the Exercises. These include a sense of cooperation with God’s action in the world, spiritual discernment in decision-making, generosity of response to God’s invitation, solidarity and companionship in service, and a temperament to find God in all things. Spiritual integration is a hallmark of the Exercises: integration of contemplation and action, prayer and service, and emotions and reason.
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