What is Ignatian Spirituality?
A way of praying or meeting God gathered by St Ignatius of Loyola from earlier Christian practices and from his own experience of God. Many communities, such as the Jesuits, the communities involved in MAGIS, as well as people within and even beyond the Catholic Church, have lived the Christian faith by using this pathway to God.
Characteristically, Ignatian Spirituality seeks to find God in each moment of our daily life, imagining ourselves walking in the pages of the Bible and reflecting on where God has come to meet us, in a prayer known as the Examen. St Ignatius compiled his experience of prayer in a manual for those helping others to pray, known as the Spiritual Exercises (which is not meant to be read), but his many letters do give useful hints for prayer and Christian living; some of them are found in Saint Ignatius of Loyola: Personal Writings. Some ways of praying inspired by St Ignatius can be found on the Pathways to God website and with Pray as you Go app, available in many languages.
What is the Ignatian Family?
Many communities have drawn inspiration from the Way of Praying of St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, a male order of priests and brothers. Living from the same Spirituality, though each is autonomous, these communities often work together, and consider themselves related as an Ignatian family. The earliest of these were communities of lay people praying and working alongside the Jesuits to live out the Gospel, which are now known as the Christian Life Communities. Communities of religious women, who wanted to work in a similar way to the Jesuits inspired by the needs of different times and places, were founded later, such as the Congregation of Jesus, the Faithful Companions of Jesus, the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto Sisters), and many others.
The Five Pillars of MAGIS
MAGIS is rooted in prayer, a personal and communal encounter with Christ that transforms us, through Mass, reading Scripture, private meditation, and any way in which we can listen and speak to God.
Paying attention to our experience, in the ordinary events that happen each day, in unusual events which happen to us and in situations which we seek out because they will help us to be aware of how God works among us.
Reflection on experiences and on our feelings helps us to notice how we are inclined to act and where Christ is inviting us to deepen our own life and how we follow him. It also shows us where we resist or find it difficult to do what God invites us to do and to find our deepest joy.
Working and living in community strengthens us in our best intentions to love our neighbour and God and highlights how best to persevere in it. Other people also help us to know our need for deeper conversion.
Prayer, reflection on experience and life in community bear fruit in service, particularly of those most in need. We take it back into prayer, and through reflection on experience and community life help us to continue our pilgrimage with the Risen Christ.