Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ignatian Spirituality Revisited

I could also have titled this post as a question The Presbyterian Way of Ignatian Christianity? especially when I realized that something akin to what happened long ago - ecumenism - in the Church of South India may now possibly be happening with American Christian denominations :). Keeping in mind that I am a non-starter when it comes to ecclesiastical polity be it Presbyterian or another, let me give you an example: I've been dipping into Marjorie Thompson's Soul Feast and was fascinated to find out that she's an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life is about the use of the spiritual disciplines of prayer, spiritual reading (lectio divina), worship, fasting, hospitality, and self-examination (many different forms of Ignatian prayer including the Examen - Examination of Consciousness, Conscience, and Praying with our Lives, etc.). A short bio of Thompson tells me that she is also the chief architect of Companions in Christ, a congregational small-group resource in spiritual formation. This, I found as I read their story and browsed through the author list, is an ecumenical group: Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, United Church of Christ, United Methodist, ordained ministers as well as scholars from these traditions.

My first point is this and it's not really news to most Christians, I suspect: many different Christian denominations are working together in their attempts to focus on how best to help congregations with their ongoing spiritual formation in Christ. My second observation is this: Father Joseph Tetlow's rendering of two of the Ignatius Spiritual Exercises Annotations as Choosing Christ in the World is a fabulous work that has made the experience of God and spiritual discernment so very accessible to ordinary people. The critical need, however, seems to be that it must be adapted even further so more people in our churches can be reached and transformed. Especially in the way that it is given. Contemplatio in actione, a characteristic of Ignatius' own mature spirituality was after all a result of the transforming conviction and experience of God he had in 1521 when he chose the standard of Christ and was given the grace to labor under it.

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