A friend whom I’ve always admired and looked up to has been seeing an Ignatian Spiritual Director for several years. Occasionally he posts Facebook status updates about his experiences that have caught my eye – like how he regularly dines with Jesuits in Washington DC (where he used to live) and now New York City (where he recently moved to). He made Ignatian Spirituality seem really “cool” – or, at the very least, quite interesting. After several years of Facebook-stalking him 🙂 I decided to look into meeting with a Spiritual Director.
Spiritual Directors can be found in almost any religious faith and with wide varieties in their training, but I knew I wanted someone within 30 or so minutes from my house and someone from the Ignatian tradition. Not because I knew what that meant, but because that’s what my friend is doing. I found one who is trained as such at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis. I go there a couple times a year for Ordination RIM (Residence in Ministry) Retreats, and have always enjoyed myself so it seemed like a natural place for me to go to meet with a spiritual director.
I had my first meeting last week. And I am SO glad I’m doing this!
Mary is my new spiritual director, and she gave me the book An Ignatian Introduction to Prayer – Scriptural Reflections According to the Spiritual Exercises. It is a daily prayer guide that follows Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. I’m still learning what that means and you can look here for more information, but here are a few unique aspects to his approach:
- Ignatian Spirituality is rooted in the conviction that God is active, personal, and – above all else – present to us. God wants to be our friend.
- God calls, and we respond. This is the fundamental dynamic of the spiritual life.
- Praying with scripture
- Finding God in all things
- Faith that does justice
- Flexibility and Adaptability
There are other qualities particular to Ignatian Spirituality, but it’s the first and last ones I listed that resonate with me most – in addition to praying with scripture (I just love praying with the biblical stories, finding myself in them, and listening to what God has to say to me through their stories). I liked the flexibility and adaptability aspects because my life is so seemingly chaotic right now. With a toddler, newborn, wife, church, chaplaincy at my local YMCA beginning, and a host of other responsibilities, I feel frazzled, poured out, and drained. This introductory prayer book is short enough that it doesn’t take a huge commitment, is meaty enough that I get a lot from it, and provides me with some much needed structure. And I like its emphasis on God’s closeness, activity, and desire to be my friend. I need to hear that right now.
I’ll close with today’s readings from Isaiah 55.
“‘Come, buy…without money and without price.’ I hear these words of pure invitation; there is no need to have ‘achieved’ something spiritually before I can dare to approach. All that is necessary is to come to receive God’s gift.”
Amen. May it be so, Lord.