A space of calm and trust
Today we offer up our hearts to the Lord.
Working with Jesuit schools gives me a unique and intimate insight into Ignatian spirituality. When I began my role as the Education for Justice Coordinator at Jesuit Missions, I hadn’t realised just how multifaceted the Jesuits are, and how deep their spirituality practice is. I was very lucky therefore to be sent on some courses to understand a little more about how Ignatian spirituality could impact on my work and, to my surprise, how it would impact on my life.
A sense of clarity and knowledge
With settings like Oxford’s Campion Hall and St Beuno’s Spirituality Centre in North Wales forming a backdrop for these courses, it was very difficult indeed not to find God in many, and in fact, all things. I was able to exhale the stress and clutter of a busy London life, and inhale the silence and solitude of these beautiful surroundings. Being guided in the theory and pedagogy of St Ignatius by Jesuits themselves was incredibly important; it presented to me a sense of clarity and knowledge and I felt confident and trustful of their expertise and experiences.
I little considered the prospect that I might be being ‘formed’
When I think about what my ideas of ‘formation’ (from a faith perspective) were in the past, I believed it mostly referred to those pursuing a religious vocation. So at the time of the workshops in Oxford and St Beuno’s I little considered the prospect that I might be being ‘formed’. Looking back however, I am certain that these experiences initiated a process for me, and opened a path of deep interest as well as a desire to incorporate Ignatian spirituality into my life.
From then on the impact on me has been palpable. I began by listening to Pray As You Go on my early commute on the tube, which has been a wonderfully modern and accessible way to hear the gospel. I continued by doing the Examen every few months both at home and at work. I admit I have found the Examen to be quite complex in nature, but it is something I hope to make a regular practice. Finally, we have been very lucky to have an annual retreat here at Jesuit Missions with Steve Hoyland to explore Ignatian spirituality in working life.
Prayer with colleagues is a wonderful reality
Within the office, being able to pray every morning with work colleagues is a wonderful reality. Being part of an environment that is dedicated to and enriched in prayer is something I didn’t realise could be so valuable, and it also gives us many opportunities to invoke Ignatian spirituality and continue to form ourselves on a daily basis, together.
All of these experiences, as well as the formation I am continuing to receive in daily life and work continue to be important to me. London living has, over the last few months, become pressurised, unpredictable and even scary. Living in an environment where extremist threats are becoming a new reality (but not a certainty), it is fundamental to be able to control ones reactions, to breathe when one feels they are losing control and to sink into a space of calm and trust. The formation I have received in these Jesuit practices enables me to do this.
For future formation, I am looking forward to this year’s feast day of St Ignatius. At Jesuit Missions, we have designed a resource for schools which can be downloaded for free here: End of term Examen
The focus of the resource is for an end of term Examen, using St Ignatius’ Take and Receive prayer as reflection and for inspiration. Personally speaking, I am looking towards an opportunity to going back to St Beuno’s for another retreat. My hope would be for the 30 day or for a young adults retreat. I suspect it would be an enriching experience and one where I could learn more about myself and the place of God in my life.
Jesuit Missions exists to support Jesuit works with poor and marginalised people around the world. We do this by promoting social justice, building bridges between communities and accompanying those working on the missions.
Pray as you go is an online audio daily Ignatian prayer. A great way to begin your day or to take with you for whenever you time. It is available as a podacst, on the website or as an app for android or apple devices. Visit the website >>
The ‘Prayer for Generosity’ is much-loved by followers of Ignatian spirituality, discover more about this