is about fixing supper for one’s husband and children. Studying theology is not necessarily holier than working as a laborer, clerk, or executive. God is fully present in every molecule of the universe. The challenge is to find God where God is and not where we think God ought to be. Ignatian spirituality teaches that the essence of the spiritual life entails the moment-by- moment search for God’s desires throughout the course of one’s own lif e. 7. An apostolic focus. Generally for those called by God to Ignatian spirituality, action in the world on behalf of God’s reign, according to one’s vocation and one’s talents, is imperative. What Ignatius called the desire to “help souls” was the groun d for an apostolic approach to the world beyond any cloister or church building. In European religious practice of the sixteenth century this was unusual for vowed religious communities. Even lay organizations were often pious prayer societies. Today such apostolic
44 focus represents a major theme for religious life due, in large part, to Ignatius’ and his companions’ pioneering work. As early as the twelfth century, Francis of Assisi and Dominic Guzman had seen the necessity for a ministry of preaching, hearing confessions, and responding to human needs in the highways and byways of medieval Europe beyond the convent and cloister. Even so their rules called for extended and established times for prayer, often sung in choir as generations of monks had done before them. Ignatius did not replicate monastic practice when he and his companions determined to form a religious community. They saw themselves called above all to direct service of the gospel in the streets of cities where humanity dwells in poverty, ignorance, and often violence. If one is faithful, attentive, and generous in redressing the greatest or most demanding needs to which he is sent, the labor itself, whether spiritual, material, intellectual, or social, and the relationships which arise from such service, provide both an encounter with the risen Lord and any necessary penance and self abnegation. Formal prayer is limited to short periods of meditation each day, regular participation in Eucharist and reconciliation, and daily times of self-examination to discern whether one is following the light of consolation from God or desolation from darker impulses. This discerning examination focuses not only on interior movements of formal prayer but especially on the movements and impulses which occur during and within the daily activities of apostolic life and all human interactions. Holiness comes from an intimacy with God through partnership with Jesus in obediently discerned service of others. 8. Companionship in and with Christ. Despite some historic accusations that followers of Ignatius are “lone rangers,” in the work of spreading the Gospel an important sensibility of Ignatian spirituality is the necessity for companionship in prayer, in service, in the struggle for justice, in the works of mercy, indeed in all aspects of life. The first companion is Jesus Christ, but Jesus’ closest companions become
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