|A VERY HAPPY FEAST OF ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA|
TO ALL THE VISITORS
Jesuit apostolic spirituality can be summed up in one phrase: ‘Contemplation in action’. However, we do not come across this phrase in the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus of the Society of Jesus written by Ignatius. Instead we find the word oración. For Ignatius, oración can be (a) formal prayer, (b) prayerful activity, i.e. saying yes to God who reveals Himself in and through the daily life-events, and (c) a mystical special sense of God which is a pure gift. But all these aspects of prayer (oración) are intimately connected. It is Jerome Nadal who coined the phrase ‘contemplation in action’. We can consider Nadal’s phrase as a faithful interpretation of Ignatius’ own phrase ‘finding God in all things’. In Ignatian spirituality the word ‘contemplation’ is not used in the sense of purely intellectual contemplation. Nor is this term equivalent to religious contemplation or formal interior prayer. In part IX of the Constitutions, Ignatius gives us a clear statement on the union and familiarity with God which must be present in action as well as in prayer. Regarding the qualities of the Superior General Ignatius writes that “he should be closely united with God our Lord and intimate with Him in prayer and all his actions.” ‘Contemplation’ in the Jesuit sense is the response and gift of this union. While this contemplation is surely actuated and realized in formal prayer, it is not restricted to it. ‘Contemplation’, then, is a sensitivity which enables a person to meet God present and active in the world, in history, and in the activities of men and women. It is this ongoing receptivity to God’s activity here and now that Nadal refers to as contemplation in the midst of action. Here, the word ‘contemplation’ refers to union and familiarity with God, and ‘in action’ refers to the active experience of being united with God’s will of love.
The experience of contemplation in action (or to find God in all things) is based on the existential structure of the Cross. Thus is revealed its essential relationship with the universal stream of Christian holiness. Every Jesuit has to approach the world from God. Not the other way about. He is called to commit himself in the lowliness of his own self devoid of all devastating attachments to the God beyond the whole world. It is not easy. He has to be a courageous person since his daring flight into God takes him back to the world, which he has to, in a real sense, abandon in the foolishness of the Cross. In order to find God in all things one must train himself in the art of cultivating the right motivation (purity of intention). The discernment of spirits and the daily examen of consciousness help one discover the will of God and clarify one’s motivation. “The examen gives our daily contemplative experience of God a real bite into all our daily living: it is an important means of finding God in everything.” The ‘faith sensitivity’ acquired through the daily examen enables one to pass from an active life in which the individual is the centre to an active life in which Christ is the centre. This sets in the process of self-emptying, a real grace which comes from God and which conforms one to the interior law of charity and love.
The foot notes of the original article have been deleted in this post.
A BIG THANK YOU TO ONE AND ALL!