Finding God in all things

This week we celebrated the Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. Ignatius was once a rather self-centered nobleman in the Spanish court at the time of the Renaissance. After he was seriously wounded in a battle, he encountered God during the many months of convalescence and became so fired up with love of God that he gave his life to helping people to come to experience God’s invitation in their own lives.  He later founded the Society of Jesus, also called the Jesuits, and wrote a book called the “Spiritual Exercises” based on his own experience of God which offers a process to help people discover God’s particular call in their lives.

The gift of Ignatian Spirituality is a gift, not just for Jesuits, but for the whole church.  What Ignatius offers us is a new way of seeing the world.  His vision of the world “is an optimistic vision of a world shot through with divine love.”[1] He believed that God did not create the world and then withdraw to leave us to it.  Our God is not a distant God, but one who is actively engaging with us at every moment. God loves the world and us so much that he remains in the midst of the mess, the chaos and the beauty of our lives.  Most of us live very busy lives with work and family or community responsibilities. When we open the newspaper or check our facebook accounts, we are confronted with a multitude of issues both international and local. Ignatius challenges us to see that if we look more deeply we can find God’s presence there.

God is constantly at work creating and re-creating and invites us to work with him as partners to bring about the changes to our world that are so deeply needed. It is an awesome thing to be invited into that partnership with God, working together to help bring about the reign of God where we are. Though we need to spend time alone with God in prayer, that prayer should help us to become “contemplatives in action” by engaging with the world from that deep rootedness in God. We seek more and more to see and engage with the world in partnership with God. We ask God to show us in the concrete realities and experiences of each day what he is inviting us to do and how he is already at work.

A prayer that can help us to grow in that sensitivity to God’s invitation is the Daily Awareness Examen (which you can find at www.jesuitinstitute.org.za/Examens). This prayer invites us to reflect back on our day with God; to notice God’s nudges through the conversations and experiences of the day and to see where I responded and where I chose not to respond – or perhaps did not even notice the invitation!  In doing this consistently we become more able to sense God’s leading in our own lives and to live our lives “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” – to the Greater Glory of God.

To discover more about Ignatius and his spirituality come to the Jesuit Institute’s annual Ignatian Day, this year at McAuley House School 20th Sept. For more information email Margaret on m.backwell@jesuitinstitute.org.za

[1] Peter Schineller

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell
MEd (Wits); MA Christian Spirituality (London); PhD (UKZN)

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell has worked in the area of Ignatian Spirituality for 19 years and heads up the work of the Jesuit Institute School of Spirituality. Her primary focus is the training and supervision of spiritual directors and the giving of retreats. She is also a registered Psychologist and her PhD focused on the interface between Christian Spirituality and Psychology. Annemarie is an editorial advisor to “The Way” journal of Spirituality and has authored a number of articles relating to the training of Spiritual Directors in an African context. She has contributed to several books, most recently co-authoring a book of Lenten Reflections: “Long Journey to the Resurrection”. She has contributed to international conferences and consultations in Spirituality in the United Kingdom; the United States; Rome; Spain, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

a.paulin-campbell@jesuitinstitute.org.za @annemariepc_c
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