Ignatian Spirituality

Ignatian spirituality, 'finding God in all things'derives its inspiration from the life experiences of Ignatius of Loyola and his Spiritual Exercises.  This spirituality is humanistic by nature, since its sustenance for action comes from reflection on human experiences in the everyday.  It is also unambiguously Christian, leading one to act for the greater good of others, creation and God – Father, Son and Spirit. People who live by this spirituality are called 'contemplatives in action.' Their lives like Ignatius are based on his foundational insights of conversation, deepest desires and helping others.

Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, described his spirituality as a journey towards God. He envisioned almost everything in life as part of that journey - as created realities that facilitated the journey or impeded its progress.

Therefore, Ignatius also promoted the need for men and women - pilgrims all - to become people of discernment. Moreover, in that discerning journey, Ignatius believed that there were three guides: Jesus Christ, the mission he gave to his Church, and human experience. Ignatian spirituality is at heart a discerning pilgrimage to God guided by three important elements: the reality of Christ, the mission entrusted to his Church, and human experience.

. . . Ignatian spirituality is, then, the Christian experience, faithful to its foundations in the gospel, eager for the translation of that gospel in and through the times we live.

“ Ignatian Spirituality “ Fr Howard Gray sj.

reprinted in “ The Ignatian Spirituality Reader “, ed. George W Traub sj Loyola Press, Chicago, pp. 59-85

Ignatius: “ the first person in the history of Christian spirituality to perceive the Trinity as God at work - as the God who continues to work, always filling up the universe and actively awakening the divine life in all things for the salvation of humanity. If the inspired monk contemplates, the inspired Ignatius works - adhering with all his heart to the designs of the Trinity, offering himself to act in synergy with the Trinity so that his work is for the Trinity’s glory.“

Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach sj


Ignatian Spirituality Points

  1. A spirituality of the heart and not just of the mind. Experiences of God move us to gratitude and to action, on behalf of others.
  2. A spirituality of generosity and not of fear. The fundamental disposition is to be open and transparent to God.
  3. A spirituality of seeking, not of fixed and rigid plans. Am I ready for God’s surprises that come through reality?
  4. A resilient spirituality of being prepared and ready to resist in difficult situations.  How do we read our desolations? What do they teach us?
  5. A spirituality that is both contemplative and active - in fact, contemplative in the very act.  What is the deepest feeling in my heart? What helps me get nearer to the Lord?
  6. A spirituality of spontaneity, and not one of sheer will power. Everything is gift. The feast is the Lord’s - we enjoy it, but share it.
  7. A spirituality that facilitates intimate encounters with the Lord, rather than distant relationships.  From this relationship comes all others, including discernment of spirits.

Based on points given by Fr Eddie Mercieca, sj, CIS

Awareness Examen

 “ We are talking about an experience in faith, of growing sensitivity to the unique, intimately special ways that the Lord’s Spirit has of approaching and calling us.”

George Aschenbrenner sj

Review for Religious 31 (1972)


“ The Examen is a methodical prayer that helps you meet Jesus in your daily life, as he encourages you to do God’s will. The Examen helps you grow in spiritual sensitivity and helps you recognize and receive God’s care and assistance....

The more we notice how we can change and move toward God like flowers to the sun, the freer we become. As God continually labors within us to make us more like His Son, we can either cooperate with his unfolding creation or freely choose not to. The choice is ours, and, like the prophets, Ignatius reminds us to “Choose Life! “

Phyllis Zagano

“ Examen of Consciousness”


Ignatius set out to teach people how to become a kind of person who, through a sort of learned intuition, could detect the sources of one’s thoughts, emotions and actions.

Through the discernment of the sources - which he called Discernment of Spirits - the decider could determine God’s will in any given situation.  In other words, once a decider could recognize the motivations moving her towards one particular choice or another, then the work of coming to a decision becomes easy: the decider could simply choose the option which comes from God.

Discernment is the internal skill - the Ignatian Intuition - of recognising the motives attracting and repulsing the decider toward or away from any given option.  Ignatian discernment then isn’t so much about what to do but about who to be.  It’s about becoming a person in tune with the movements that lead one to God. The doing will flow from the being.

Mark Thibodeaux, S.J.




Ignatian prayer is imaginative, reflective, and personal. St. Ignatius Loyola encouraged people to develop an intimate relationship with a God who loves them and desires the best for them.

Ignatius Loyola trusted human desires. He believed that our deepest desire is to return God’s love. Ignatius Loyola also trusted feelings.

He believed that feelings of joy and sorrow, peace and distress, were important indicators of the path toward fruitful decisions and deeper union with God. At the heart of Ignatian prayer are the Spiritual Exercises and the Daily Examen.